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Trinity in East and West

Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 11:21 AM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Brendan wrote:

It seems to me that the intersection of Christology and Pneumatology is really the point of departure for some of these issues. Specifically, reflecting on the relationship between the Father and the Spirit and Son and the Spirit, and the respective economies of the Son and the Spirit seems to be a fruitful way of thinking about these issues from the trinitarian perspective. It is possible, for example, that the Western tendency to downplay the Spirit (either through established theology or simply by having an underdeveloped pneumatology) has led to a tendency there to downplay or deemphasize the pneumatological role in the church -- in other words, to play up the economy of the Son -- who was concretely active in the world, in history -- but not that of the Spirit -- who gives the church its eschatological perspective and dimension. In addition, this could lead to a more hierarchical view of the trinity, which could be reflected in a more hierarchical view of church life. And if, in fact, the Spirit is in some sense subordinate to the Son (as He may have been considered for centuries in Roman Catholic trinitarian theology), it's possible that this would lead to an emphasis of the Pope over the remainder of the church, and an increasingly rigid hierarchical model for the church.

From the Orthodox perspective, it's possible that our tradition of viewing the trinitarian persons as fundamentally equal, distringuished only by their origin (or lack thereof), has led to a tendency to de-emphasize primacy in the life of the church. In fact, this needn't be the case, for Cappadocian trinitarian theology still contains the concept of "arche" (and this, in fact, is the lynchpin of this theological schema), but it's possible that this has not been sufficiently emphasized and understood by the Orthodox east over the centuries.


Hi Brendan,

I took the liberty of moving this discussion to another and new thread since it has little to do explicitly with the Formula of Hormisdas.

I am most interested in this topic as you raise it.

I already replied to your comments about some "subordination" of the Persons of the Trinity in the western Trinitarian approaches and indicated that this is not reflective of actual dogma and liturgical expression of the western Catholic Church.

Here I reply to your comment about an "underdeveloped pneumatology" in the west, as you seem to indicate. I am not sure this would hold up to close scrutiny. Fr Congar, in his study I referred to already, makes it clear that the west compares favorably in terms of its pneumatological theological development - and, in fact, deals with the procession of the Spirit in a far more positive way than the eastern approach to the Trinitarian Mystery.

(There may indeed be lack of proportion in some expressions of Catholic piety in this area but then we can say the same, probably, about some Orthodox expressions of piety, etc.).

Another important issue is expressed well by Irenee Dalmais, who writes:

In his later works, and ultimately in the masterly synthesis of the De Trinitate (notably Books VI and XV), Augustine constantly returned to the themes received from Cyprian, and especially from Hilary; but from these he extracted the word that was to become classical and distinctive of Western pneumatology: the Spirit is the Love of the Father and the Son.

"Therefore the unutterable conjunction of the Father and His Image is not without fruition, without love, without joy. That love, delight, felicity ... is called by Hilary, in short, Use (usus), and it is the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. Not begotten, he is the sweetness of the begetter and of the begotten, filling all creatures according to their capacity with abundant bountifulness and copiousness" (De Trin. VI, 10-1 1).

That word "Love" (caritas), one of the richest of Christian latinity, was charged with overtones which the word agape was never to possess in the Greek world. Doubtless this is the Latin world's specific contribution to pneumatology.


I believe this emphasis on caritas - which flows, too, from an understanding of Filioque in the Trinitarian relationships - may explain why it seems the west has developed more the themes around "the loves" - including romantic love, and the love of friendship, and even conjugal love (and may explain, in part, the emphasis in the west on the works of charity as well).

This is not to say there is nothing like this in the east. In fact, especially among the Russian thinkers we find some of these same things (but these were quite influenced by the western "Love-Mysticism" and the western approaches to the Trinitarian Mystery). But I do think Dalmais is unto something of some significance in his comment about the specific contribution of Latin pneumatology.

I have more to say (of course) but await any response you might have. I am eager to learn, too, about specific eastern contributions to pneumatology and the Trinitarian Mystery of Life and Love.
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 01:46 PM

Dear Gerard,

Whether the reduction of Triadology (i.e. theology of the Trinity) to its internal relations in Western modalities of thought is a "positive" comment on the Procession of the Spirit is open to discussion.

I can't speak for the Orthodox, but as an Orthodox Catholic in union with Rome (I'm in an adventurous mood today, Brother Gerard smile ), I wanted to comment on Brendan's earlier analysis.

Western theology has seen the Holy Spirit as the "Love" between the Father and the Son."

In this schema, the Spirit is "between" the First and Second Persons of the Trinity and the Spirit Himself is understood in terms of a "characteristic" or "quality" that is REALLY proper to all Three Divine Persons at once.

I would agree with Brendan and would also argue that to "reduce" the Spirit to a quality in this way is to truly downplay the Spirit's Economic role within the Mystery of Salvation.

And I'm not saying anything RC theologians since Vatican II have not said with respect to the "Forgotten God" or the Holy Spirit.

RC theologians who gathered at Rome about the role of the Holy Spirit in Latin theology came to much the same conclusions (see P. Bilaniuk's book on the Spirit where this is discussed from a Catholic point of view).

Is not the often controversial Catholic Charismatic Movement a way to redress the overtly neglected role of the Spirit in former Catholic devotional life and ecclesiological reflection?

The active role of the RC Priest in consecrating the Bread and Wine during the Mass, at least formerly, sharply contrasted to the mystical, instrumental role of the Eastern priest who did indeed pronounce the Words of Institution, but then knelt and invoked the Spirit in the Epiclesis to effect the actual Change.

The more activist, bureaucratic and organized nature of RC ecclesiology is something that the West is famous for and perhaps the East can use more of it.

But I think the point is agreed to that RC theology of recent times has tried to give a liturgical focus and expression to the role of the Spirit, not the least of which was the deliberate placement of an Epiclesis in the NO Rite.

Lossky, whom I believe Brendan echoes here, made the argument that papal triumphalism at its worst came into being fast on the heels of the theology of the Filioque: If the Spirit proceeds from the Son as He does from the Father, then the Spirit must also proceed from the Pope, the Vicar of the Son as well.

This is contrasted by the collegial spirituality of church governance in the East where the Ecumenical Council representing the entire Church, with a Pentarchy guiding it, assembles under the influence of the Holy Spirit Who guides His Church into all truth.

The East has a much more dynamic understanding of the Spirit Who is not "between" the Father and the Son, but Who proceeds from the Father alone and is sent through the Son into the world as His Successor.

Holiness and Grace are not "things" in Eastern theology, but the Gift of the Spirit Himself, with holiness consisting in the life-long acquisition of the Holy Spirit Who is our Grace and the Source of Life.

The NO liturgy may have recovered some aspects long neglected in the West, but one may legitimately question how well it has encapsulated the experience of mysticism and the experience of the Holy Spirit.

IF it has tried to imitate Protestant forms, then the NO has also followed mainline Protestantism in its overt rationalism and lack of mystical experience, something the later Pentecostal movements would try to make up for.

RC theology is tracking a different course today.

It can do no better than follow the Patristic impulse and rich liturgical and devotional tradition that is focused on the Holy Spirit of the Eastern Church.

Alex
Posted By: Brendan

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 02:50 PM

Gerard --

Thanks for your post. My own post was really more focused on the impact of various trinitarian theologies on the respective ecclesiogical visions of West and East - which I think are different. I was not suggesting that Western and Eastern trinitarian visions are completely incompatible, but rather that the various trinitarian visions -- which their different emphases -- may have an impact, perhaps a decisive one, on the respective ecclesiological visions that have prevailed in West and East over the centuries.

Reflecting on your post, I can't help but have some difficulty with the conceptualization of the Holy Spirit as the spirit of love between Father and Son -- to my own way of thinking (which is not flawless, obviously), this seems somewhat "de-Personalizing" at least .... but, to get back to the topic of how this intersects with ecclesiology, it seems at least possible that this conception of the Spirit has been reflected in Roman Catholic ecclesiology -- viz., the tendency to exalt the primate (the Vicar of Christ who represents the Son) over the balance of the episcopate (which would represent the fulness of the Spirit as a charism to each person). Or, on another level, the tendency in the West to exalt the priesthood and clerical orders generally over the laity (at least until Vatican II when the Roman Catholics did make a sincere attempt -- one that doesn't seem to have really sunken in, but nevertheless it was a sincere attempt -- to develop a theology of the "laos tou theou") might be related to the tendency to emphasize the Son over the Spirit -- ie, by emphasizing those who stand in the person of Christ in the liturgy or as Bishops over the people of God who equally share in the charisms of the Holy Spirit.

Metropolitan John describes this as the false dichotomy between the "one" and the "many". Christ is the "one", through whom all must pass in order to come to the Father -- but the Spirit is in the multiplicity of persons who come to God each in a personal way. This is not a dichotomy, because the Son and Spirit (and the Father) are always working together dynamically, in terms of the divine economy. But when one aspect of this trinitarian economy becomes de-emphasized (however that may happen, either through formal theology, liturgical use, popular piety or the like), and another element becomes more emphasized, it's possible that either the "one" or the "many" receives a disproprortionate emphasis in the life of the church, and, as such, this can impact the life of the church on many levels, including ecclesiology.

Alex --

I think that Roman Catholic ideas about this have progressed significantly recently. The classical Augustinian view appears to be declining in influence in many Catholic circles -- but it's hard to tell. The question for you is this: do you think that this has had an impact on the respective ecclesiological visions of East and West?

My own perspective is that this seems possible to me. I think Lossky may have overstated the case, or at least stated it in a one-sided and therefore less charitable than necessary way -- but the core of what he was saying may be right. The corollary is whether there are aspects of Orthodox trinitarian theology that have impacted the Orthodox view of the church, with the noted radical de-emphasis of the role of the Primate. My own supposition on this is that the theological vision -- in the case of the Eastern Church -- is not so much the culprit here as the historical experience of living without a real primacy for centuries ... that's had a definite impact on Orthodox ideas about this, not on the theological level (as our theologians are at pains to point out, noting that our ecclesiology requires us to be organized differently than we presently are) but on the pragmatic level. It's possible, however, that on the Catholic side the development of the papal powers, on the doctrinal level -- which happened over the course of time -- was related in some fundamental way to the basic thrust of the Latin view of the trinity. It is an interesting question -- what do you think? Was Lossky basically right (if uncharitable)?

Brendan
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 03:11 PM

Dear Brendan,

It's just so very good to be able to discuss something with you here again - I'm rubbing my hands gleefully right now . . . smile

Yes, I thought you were going to dampen my enthusiasm about Lossky as you have before - but I'd rather be told to go easy on Rome by an Orthodox than by anyone else though!

I guess I like Lossky's view because it is nice and neat.

And I think that being uncharitable to a particular theology of another Church is not really being uncharitable - if he named names well then . . .

But as I see it, the emphasis on the Holy Spirit in Eastern ecclesiology had the impact of bringing mysticism and charismatic qualities to bear on church life and leadership.

In such a case, centralist, bureaucratic tendencies receive a cap in church life.

The "sacerdotal" view of episcopal authority, rather than the triumphalist view, takes set of honour.

The bishop in the East has always been seen to be on an even keel with the monk. Both bishop and monk are always in prayer for the building up of the Body of Christ. The authority of the bishop is that of Christ Himself and he is open to the Gifts of the Spirit to serve as the Spirit's instrument in the guidance of the Church into all truth while protecting it from error.

Just as every sacramental/mystical action of the Eastern Church is begun with an Epiclesis or invocation of the Spirit, so too is it completed.

The reliance on the Spirit in this way, the Spirit of the Father Who is dynamically sent into the world in the Name of the Son, Jesus Christ, allows for the element of surprise in the life of the Church.

Bureaucratization deadens surprise and change and adaptation.

The Spirit is always aiding us to better proclaim the Good News and reach out to those who need to have it proclaimed to them.

To be open to the Spirit in this way is to truly be able to hear the Words of Christ and receive the truly charisma of the Spirit to apply it in our lives and around us by means of the praxis of the Church whereby the Gospel of Christ is incarnated and inculturated anew in fresh social and cultural contexts.

I think that the RC theologians are more open to the patristic theology of Orthodoxy.

There are still hangups about the Filioque, fears about what will happen to the "orderliness" of the Church with greater decentralization of church authority based in Rome, and concern about maintaining the basic hieratic structure of that authority.

When I was studying the charismatic movement, what struck me most was how the enthusiasm about the Holy Spirit in this particular form, of course, was something that was "outside" the mainstream of the Roman Church.

Vatican II had made many pronouncements on a revivified role for the Spirit in the liturgical and spiritual lives of the Latin faithful.

But that is when I came to a much deeper realization of the profound and enduring role and significance of the Spirit in the life of the Orthodox Church and, from my point of view, the Eastern Catholic Churches that were true or had recovered their Eastern heritage.

The Eastern Church is truly the Church of the Holy Spirit, just as it is the Church of the Resurrection and of the Mother of God.

Ultimately, to rely on the Holy Spirit is to be willing to take a risk, a risk that is avoided by bureaucratic, centralist structures of ordered control.

That risk is to be willing to follow the promptings of the Spirit and follow them wherever they may lead, as did St Herman of Alaska and so many others throughout history.

Alex
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 03:52 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Alex writes:

Western theology has seen the Holy Spirit as the "Love" between the Father and the Son."

I don't think that is at all what western theology states: its insight, based on Scripture and the earliest Latin theological ventures, is that the Holy Spirit is the Personal Love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father: their "fellowship", their "communion", their "we" so to speak.

To reduce this insight (which does not exhaust western pneumatology!) to "love between Father and Son" seems not to do justice to the more nuanced western approach.

In this schema, the Spirit is "between" the First and Second Persons of the Trinity and the Spirit Himself is understood in terms of a "characteristic" or "quality" that is REALLY proper to all Three Divine Persons at once.

This, too, does not do justice to the insights of the western theological tradition. The love that is the Holy Spirit is in relation to the Relationship of the Father and the Son to One Another. (And some eastern theologian approach this theme as well such as Gregory of Cyprus and more recently Dmitru Staniloae - and others as well).

I would agree with Brendan and would also argue that to "reduce" the Spirit to a quality in this way is to truly downplay the Spirit's Economic role within the Mystery of Salvation.

I wasn't aware Brendan had said this.

How does making the Holy Spirit an outpouring of the love of the Father and the Son as "gift" and as "caritas" downplay the role of the Holy Spirit in the economy of salvation?

I do not have time right now (my lunch and siesta are beckoning me) but hope to respond to more of what you wrote later (and Brendan's reply too). I am most interested in this topic. I wish I were brighter and more articulate. But I will try my best, even as I realize that my own faith is rather simple and unadorned really. But I have prayed a good bit and studies a bit around this blessed topic of the role of the Holy Spirit.

One last reply:

And I'm not saying anything RC theologians since Vatican II have not said with respect to the "Forgotten God" or the Holy Spirit.

RC theologians who gathered at Rome about the role of the Holy Spirit in Latin theology came to much the same conclusions (see P. Bilaniuk's book on the Spirit where this is discussed from a Catholic point of view).


I have studied a good bit of contemporary Catholic writings on the Holy Spirit and have not encountered any that would dispute the basic western insight of the Holy Spirit as Gift and Caritas/Love. I am not aware, however, of P. Bilaniuk's book, but from a quick internet search I suspect he may be a Ukrainian Catholic, no?.

At any rate, what "RC" theologians, when and where, and what conclusions? (Otherwise you just tease....).

See you later after a siesta, that great gift of Mediterrean cultures and of God himself who, as the psalmist tell us, gives to his loved ones while they sleep.

[ 08-07-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 05:54 PM

Veni Sancte Spiritus!

Hi! back after a little siesta and now with a cup of coffee --

Alex wrote:

Is not the often controversial Catholic Charismatic Movement a way to redress the overtly neglected role of the Spirit in former Catholic devotional life and ecclesiological reflection?

The charismatic movement is not at all limited to the Catholic Church but it has "sprung up" in all the mainstream Protestant Churches, some of which have had a rather high view of the role of the Holy Spirit, and has even made an appearance here and there among Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox. Father Eusebius Stephanou, the controversial Greek Orthodox priest/evangelist comes to mind here.

But I do think the Catholic Renewal did serve on some levels as you suggest as well. But I would see it as more than that. In some ways, too, others see it as a direct result of the prayers prayed by all Catholics before Vatican II: "Renew your wonders in our own time as in a new Pentecost." Remember? (You are probably too young to remember that prayer written by Blessed Pope John XXIII).

snipped material

Lossky, whom I believe Brendan echoes here, made the argument that papal triumphalism at its worst came into being fast on the heels of the theology of the Filioque: If the Spirit proceeds from the Son as He does from the Father, then the Spirit must also proceed from the Pope, the Vicar of the Son as well.

Critics have pointed out that Lossky seems to have neglected the facts: that the Filioque goes back far into the Latin theological tradition and that even the insertion into the Latin Liturgical Creed took place in Spain as early as the seventh century.

I have read a fair amount of Lossky (who is over my head much of the time) and never recall him going so far as the absurd comment about the Spirit proceeding from the Pope - though I do recall him making the filioque the reason for papal monarchy and absolutism.

Even his disciple, Olivier Clement, says that Lossky began to modify this opinion towards the end. Bishop Kallistos says that after much reflection he cannot see any such consequences on ecclesiology flowing from the Filioque (and that now he considers the Filioque controversy, largely, if not exclusively, a matter of semantics).

This is contrasted by the collegial spirituality of church governance in the East where the Ecumenical Council representing the entire Church, with a Pentarchy guiding it, assembles under the influence of the Holy Spirit Who guides His Church into all truth.

These Councils are affirmed by the Catholic Church as well. And indeed Ecumenical Councils have continuously been held in the Catholic Church, and have not been held in the east for many, many centuries. That would seem a fatal flaw in Lossky's approach if you reflect it correctly.

The East has a much more dynamic understanding of the Spirit Who is not "between" the Father and the Son, but Who proceeds from the Father alone and is sent through the Son into the world as His Successor.

Without denying any dynamic understanding of the east regarding the Holy Spirit, I would simply disagree with your characterization of western Catholic pneumatology. The mission of the Holy Spirit is beautifully spelled out, for example, in the great treatises of Saint Thomas Aquinas. It is a most dynamic understanding! (As is the understanding, for example, of the great Latin hymns, Veni Sancte Spiritus and Veni Creator Spiritus}.

Holiness and Grace are not "things" in Eastern theology, but the Gift of the Spirit Himself, with holiness consisting in the life-long acquisition of the Holy Spirit Who is our Grace and the Source of Life.

The NO liturgy may have recovered some aspects long neglected in the West, but one may legitimately question how well it has encapsulated the experience of mysticism and the experience of the Holy Spirit.


Holiness and Grace are not things in western theology but ultimately the Uncreated Grace: the divinizing Spirit of God. The holiness of the authentic western Catholic tradition has always been centered on caritas/love: the love of God shed abroad in our own hearts by the Holy Spirit - Rom 5: 5.

I would not see any great gap here between east and west.

In fact, there is much more in common than differences if we go to the authentic sources. Or so it seeems to me in both my readings, prayings, and experiences.

[ 08-07-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 06:26 PM

Dear Brother Gerard,

I'll respond to points as you have laid them out in so orderly a fashion, Big Guy!

Nuancing aside, the argument of the East against Western Triadology is precisely as you've put it yourself, that the Spirit is, quoting you, "the Personal Love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father."

The East sees "Love" as being a quality that is shared by all Three Persons Who love one another.

There is a difference, nuances notwithstanding. The difference is not insurmountable in terms of ecumencial rapprochement, but the differences remain and CAN remain within a united Church, East and West.

My reference to the "Between" is in terms of an ideal construct in terms of how the Trinity is seen in the West.

No one is denying that this is not a valid way of viewing the Trinity, but it is not the way of the Orthodox Catholic Christian East. John Meyendorff discusses this at some length within an irenical appreciation of Western Triadology and I for one have no problem with him!

To treat of the differences of the East and the West is not to say they are what continue to maintain the schism. Some would say they do. Within a united Church, in God's good time, the differences would remain.

I am an Eastern Catholic brought up on Augustine and Aquinas (I am 46 years old, Big Guy, with a Ph.D. and a wife and I don't know which of the two has given me a greater education).

The West tends to reduce the Trinity to its internal relations, the East views the Trinity in terms of the economy of salvation. I've yet to see anyone deny that general overview.

But again, the East sees "Love" as a quality of all Three Persons and not of the Spirit alone.

And I don't see how your more nuanced approach changes that theological point.

Orthodox theologians may come to appreciate the Western approach, as did Meyendorff as well as Kallistos Ware, but accepting it is another matter.

Your point on the outpouring of the Spirit is one that both East and West share.

That's not what we are talking about. We are talking about the Procession of the Spirit Himself and why it was necessary for the West to understand it, in terms of the eternal procession, from both Father and Son.

That is the crux of the matter that we need to settle first. And we have to be careful about taking RC theology since Vatican II, including Bl. Pope John XXIII as this theological emphasis on the Spirit takes on a path more similar to Orthodoxy than was had previously. That's all I'm saying.

Fr. Bilaniuk was Ukrainian Catholic and was highly conversant with RC theologians on this subject. I've read the RC sources, or most of them, that he's listed in his work.

And, Big Guy, you don't know me really. I don't tease about theology. I tease about everything else, but not about theology.

As for the Charismatic movement, I used to belong to it, but don't anymore and don't see it as a positive thing for any Church really. The priest you mention is truly controversial and I would humbly suggest he return to the Patristic sources of his faith for a better understanding of Orthodox Pneumatology.

The Charismatic movement is too Protestant and too emotional in nature. I think we should be very careful about suggesting that this is the work of the Spirit.

I once read a Protestant Pentecostal tract that reported the hurling of lightning from heaven that destroyed Catholic statues of the Virgin Mary in the Philippines.

Is the "lord" anti-Catholic, do you think? Where is the sobriety and other spiritual qualities the Fathers always required of true spirituality in the Charismatic movement? Sorry, but it's one big turn-off for me and turned out that way for my colleagues.

The Grace that is uncreated in the West, as you say, is something RC theologians would agree to.

But when did that happen? What RC theologians agree to that? Otherwise, you just tease . . . smile

Alex
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 06:32 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Brendan writes:

Reflecting on your post, I can't help but have some difficulty with the conceptualization of the Holy Spirit as the spirit of love between Father and Son -- to my own way of thinking (which is not flawless, obviously), this seems somewhat "de-Personalizing" at least ....

Hi Brendan,

I think I can understand to some extent your difficulty here. But I don't share it, maybe, in part, since I am by nature a "romantic" and find the image of Love very much speaking to my depths. I realize, though, that this is an imperfect, incomplete image and that when it comes to our affirmations about God these are totally inadequate and do not at all exhaust the Mystery. Our words and images simply are not adequate to Infinite Mystery!

But, as I say, I find the image of the Spirit as Love relatively easy to accept: it is very resonant with my own deepest yearnings, experiences, desires, and intimations of eternity.

Even those who do not consider themselves "filioquists" can relate to this image. For example here's Father Alexander Schmemman himself:

"We believe in one God, but not a God in solitude, not in God-self-love. God is love, teaches Christian faith. Yet love is openness to the other, and at its greatest the offering of oneself to the other. The Father... loves the Son and gives everything to him. The Son loves the Father and gives himself to him. Finally, the very gift of love, this very love.... is the Holy Spirit...

"If God is the lover and the Son the beloved, then the Holy Spirit is the love that joins them together.... Such is the Mystery of God-the Trinity, the God of love."
(Voskresnye besedy , Sunday Sermons, Moscow 1993, p.81)


The God of love! This image, while not perfect, at least has the advantage of offering some wonderful vistas into the Mystery of the Triune Life and Love of God. Many can relate to this, taking the Trinity out of the realm of the abstract and into human life and experience (in a limited way).

But I do understand to some extent, I think, those who find this problematic as well.

..but, to get back to the topic of how this intersects with ecclesiology, it seems at least possible that this conception of the Spirit has been reflected in Roman Catholic ecclesiology -- viz., the tendency to exalt the primate (the Vicar of Christ who represents the Son) over the balance of the episcopate (which would represent the fulness of the Spirit as a charism to each person). Or, on another level, the tendency in the West to exalt the priesthood and clerical orders generally over the laity (at least until Vatican II when the Roman Catholics did make a sincere attempt -- one that doesn't seem to have really sunken in, but nevertheless it was a sincere attempt -- to develop a theology of the "laos tou theou") might be related to the tendency to emphasize the Son over the Spirit -- ie, by emphasizing those who stand in the person of Christ in the liturgy or as Bishops over the people of God who equally share in the charisms of the Holy Spirit.

I have yet have a fully formed opinion on some of what you write. I know some have suggested as much while others have more or less rejected theories along these lines (including, I believe, Bishop Kallistos Ware). I remain open.

But one strong opinion I do have: there can be no real separating the missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit and pitting one over the other. That would seem unbiblical and untraditional and unfaithful to the writings of the Fathers of both east and west. Some have, for example, criticized Lossky for seeming to do this (e.g. see the critique of Stanilaoe of Lossky's Pneumatolgy in Theology and the Church (SVP)

I don't think it accurate to say the Latin theological tradition emphasizes the Son over the Spirit (but, of course, even the gospels speak far more of Christ than of the Spirit!).

Metropolitan John describes this as the false dichotomy between the "one" and the "many". Christ is the "one", through whom all must pass in order to come to the Father -- but the Spirit is in the multiplicity of persons who come to God each in a personal way. This is not a dichotomy, because the Son and Spirit (and the Father) are always working together dynamically, in terms of the divine economy. But when one aspect of this trinitarian economy becomes de-emphasized (however that may happen, either through formal theology, liturgical use, popular piety or the like), and another element becomes more emphasized, it's possible that either the "one" or the "many" receives a disproprortionate emphasis in the life of the church, and, as such, this can impact the life of the church on many levels, including ecclesiology.

The gospel itself says that no one comes to the Father except through the Son. That is Truth itself.

The gospels speak of the Spirit/wind blowing where it will and no one knows from where it comes or where it goes: so is everyone born of the Spirit.

But this unexpectedness, this surprise of the Holy Spirit, is never separate from Jesus Crucified and Risen, who makes all things new.

You affirm this, too, but emphasize how one aspect can be blown out of proportion. This can happen either way I guess (e.g. Luther's comment about the Anabaptist, Thomas Muntzer: "He swallowed the Holy Ghost, feathers and all!"

The One and the Many: the west seems to have this aspect in the filioque itself: the Two Persons of Father and Son One in the Holy Spirit, the Third and Fully Equal Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. The east has this perhaps in the doctrine of the circumincessio of the Persons and the "arche" of the Father perhaps.

I suspect here, too, it is more complimentarity than contradiction.

I grow weary speaking of these things. I do better with a simple:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!

Thanks very much for your good and thoughtful reply, Brendan.
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 06:55 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Alex wrote:

The Charismatic movement is too Protestant and too emotional in nature. I think we should be very careful about suggesting that this is the work of the Spirit.

And in an earlier post to Brendan, wrote:

When I was studying the charismatic movement, what struck me most was how the enthusiasm about the Holy Spirit in this particular form, of course, was something that was "outside" the mainstream of the Roman Church.

This may be true enough for some streams of the Charismatic Renewal but not all. There are, for example, remarkable charismatic communities in France that are fully Catholic and full integrated into the heart of the Church. I think of communities like Emmanuel and Beatitudes (and there are others).

These communities are active in the general renewal of the Church (and in the World Youth Days they are very important, especially Emmanuel).

They both have websites for you and others to explore:

Emmanuel at:

http://www.emmanuel-info.com/en/startmain.html

And Beatitudes at:

http://www.beatitudes.org

At least in the French version, click on the large map and see the various communities listed and visit those that have websites. You may be, like me, in awe.....

Just now an Orthodox group from Moscow finished up a retreat at one of Beatitude's Houses of Formation in an ancient 12th century monastery (they are reinhabiting a lot of the old abandoned monasteries dotting France and elsewhere - maybe harbingers of that New Pentecost?)

[ 08-07-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]

[ 08-07-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]
Posted By: George Blaisdell

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 07:00 PM

Gerard Serafin writes:

>>>...western theology['s] insight, based on Scripture and the earliest Latin theological ventures, is that the Holy Spirit is the Personal Love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father: their "fellowship", their "communion", their "we" so to speak.<<<

Therein lies the problem, you see... "Fellowship", "communion", "Personal Love", are all relational terms, subordinate to the state or action of the person, or hypostasis, of the one having or doing them.

By reducing the Third Person [Hypostasis] of the Holy Trinity to an aspect of relationship of THEIR Hypostases, we cannot but help losing the equality of "Stasis" of the Third Person, Who thereby becomes a byproduct of the first Two Persons...

Being of One Essence, the Three Hypostases have equal standing [stasis] in Each of Their Three Persons.

Besides, what do you do with John's: "God IS Love." All Three Persons ARE Love... Yes? Love is not just something They DO, is it?

geo
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 07:04 PM

Dear Gerard,

In terms of the goals of the Charismatic movement - the more assiduous reading of Scripture, dedication to the praise of God, spontaneous prayer, the building up of community - these are all positive things.

What I didn't like when I was a member of that movement was what I perceived as a de-emphasis of the Cross over the emotional enthusiasm for the Spirit and the "Gifts" as they defined them.

I didn't like the fact that I was being coerced into doing something I could not in fact do - speak in tongues. I was told to let go, let go, Alex etc.

What was I supposed to let go of? My sanity?

That's already taxed beyond the limit! smile

It was assumed that when someone spoke in tongues, it was, in fact, the Spirit that was doing this in that person.

Aren't we supposed to submit to the Church for this sort of thing?

One Roman Catholic priest in our group gave us a homily and said that for too many years the Catholic church allowed "bad theology" to go unchecked.

At that point, I got up and said, "Yes, and you are living proof of that, er, Reverend Father."

Not all that glistens is gold. The Eastern Church monastic Fathers know a lot more than anyone about sobriety and spiritual states.

There is little sobriety in that movement. I know the sites you list.

But more than that, I've been in that movement.

It taught me a lot. The number one thing it taught me is to get out of it before my Catholic faith suffered.

Eastern Catholic and Orthodox theology have a much more Patristically and Scripturally defined idea of the Role of the Holy Spirit that is also liturgically based.

I need no more than this treasure.

Alex
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 07:43 PM

Alex writes:

But more than that, I've been in that movement.

It taught me a lot. The number one thing it taught me is to get out of it before my Catholic faith suffered.


You know, of course, Pope John Paul II would not completely agree with you in your estimation.

By the way, I respect your opinion based on your experience.

I happen to know some others, however, deeply involved in the CCR and they are among the finest Christians (and Catholics) I know.

The Pope supports this movement and always urges it to greater fidelity and insertion into the heart of the Church, as he does with all the ecclesial movements (none of which are without its critics).

I am not a member and never have been, though I have been involved with charismatics on various levels since the bery beginnings of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I have been enriched by some of its riches (while I have not found its expression to be "my cup of tea" to use a colloquial and inadequate expression).

I do thank God for any graces bestowed through this renewal. And hope for its fruitfulness for the Church and the world to the praise of God's glory.
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/07/02 07:49 PM

Dear Gerard,

I'm not saying this movement should be quashed, but I think it is telling that while the Pope supports it, he wants it to be fully integrated into the Church, and that is wise advice and guidance.

And I don't know if those who speak in tongues really do so. I just don't know. But I would rather have all that submitted to the Church rather than assume things about this and other phenomena.

The great Pentecostal Saint, St Seraphim of Sarov shone with the Uncreated Light, as you know.

You have a great knowledge of both Roman Catholic AND Orthodox theology that you link at certain junctures - which is fine, although I prefer to see them as integral and distinct wholes.

Your perspective is rare and appreciated.

Alex
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 12:25 AM

Come, Holy Spirit.

George writes:

Besides, what do you do with John's: "God IS Love." All Three Persons ARE Love... Yes? Love is not just something They DO, is it?

I would speak very similiarily to Father Alexander Schmemman who puts it:

"We believe in one God, but not a God in solitude, not in God-self-love. God is love, teaches Christian faith. Yet love is openness to the other, and at its greatest the offering of oneself to the other. The Father... loves the Son and gives everything to him. The Son loves the Father and gives himself to him. Finally, the very gift of love, this very love.... is the Holy Spirit...

"If God is the lover and the Son the beloved, then the Holy Spirit is the love that joins them together.... Such is the Mystery of God-the Trinity, the God of love."
(Voskresnye besedy , Sunday Sermons, Moscow 1993, p.81)

Here Father Alexander comes very close to the "love-mysticism" of the western Catholic tradition, which has been so fruitful and has influenced especially Russian thinkers and theologians.

It reflects the great insight Augustine received from those who went before him: that the Most Blessed Trinity is the Lover, the Beloved, and Their holy Love (and the "love-mysticism" posits the need for a Third Person to complete the "isness" of Love as in God "is" Love - not just that God loves....

I may not be expressing it too well but I do think lovers might understand to some degree...
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 01:43 AM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Alex writes:

The Grace that is uncreated in the West, as you say, is something RC theologians would agree to.

But when did that happen? What RC theologians agree to that? Otherwise, you just tease . . .


Hi Alex,

I don't think I expressed myself too well. My point was that the aim of all grace is the Uncreated Grace of the Holy Spirit who enlivens and divinizes the believer... The east and west have many points of contact on this level, it seems to me.

Here's a selection of great importance, in my opinion, from one of the finest theologians of our own times, Louis Bouyer (who was a Protestant Pastor and became Catholic and is a friend of "the east"). I realize it's quite long but I do think it is worth any effort to read and grasp:

"...But thanks to the Aristotelian renewal, it was St. Thomas who, without breaking with the tradition of borrowing from Hellenism, without
breaking even with the Christian Platonism of Augustine, nonetheless by the orientation of his Neo-Aristotelianism brought about a decisive
return to the Pauline view of man.

For Aristotle had ceased to conceive of the soul as somehow parallelling the body in a superior world, separated from the body although weighed
down by it. He made the soul the proper "entelechy" of the body, that is, as it were, the directive idea intimately determining all its development.

His successors, however, had interpreted this in a purely materialistic sense, as if the soul had no distinct existence apart from the body, and
it is not impossible that Aristotle himself actually thought of it in this way. His teaching on this point, therefore, had seemed irreconcilable with Christian doctrine.

Nonetheless St. Thomas took it up again and, by somewhat "re-platonising" it, made it much more
satisfactory from the Christian point of view than any form of Platonism or Neo-Platonism.

For, like Plato, he saw the soul as a form, and, moreover, a substantial form, endowed with its own spiritual being, in itself indestructible.
But he saw it nonetheless, as did Aristotle, as the form of the body, and of one particular body, determined by its insertion into the material world. The unity of man, body and soul, is thus restored, in harmony with the biblical view - restored, that is, in a spiritual dynamism which causes the body to be unified and perfected in itself in and through the soul.

The soul, in turn, in accordance with the way in which St. Thomas thought of grace, is perfected and exceeds itself in God. In contradiction to Peter Lombard, St. Thomas did not accept the idea that grace is purely and simply the gift of the Holy Spirit, of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity as He is in Himself. It seemed to him that, in this case, man would indeed be the Temple of the Spirit, but not His living Temple, vivified by the presence of its Guest assimilating our life to His own life. The uncreated grace of the gift of the Spirit, therefore, according to Thomas, is extended in the soul itself by a created grace, that is, by a divine quality making the soul like to God,
causing it to participate in His own life.

This teaching was frequently misunderstood later on to the point of being interpreted in an exactly opposite sense. The characterizing of grace as created was taken as a pretext for representing it as a second nature, a "super-nature" superimposed on our original nature. Nothing could be more contrary to the profound thought of St. Thomas.

If grace, as he conceived it, is created, it is in the soul that it is so: he says expressly that it is not a superior and distinct nature added to the soul like a mere garment, but a quality infused into it.

While grace is supernatural in the basic sense that it is superior to any created nature or to any that could be created, it is in no way a
"super-nature." It is as it were a new "accident" inserted into the substance of the soul, fitting it as a soul to live the very life of God, wholly divine.

No theological notion, certainly, is more mysterious than this idea of grace which is created, but in such a way as to render a creature whom it recreates, without changing or destroying it, a "participant in the divine nature," according to the phrase used in the second Epistle of St. Peter (v. 4).

How can a created reality cause us to participate in the uncreated? Yet the paradox is simply that of a reality actually inserted in us to the point of being wholly our own, without ceasing nonetheless to be in itself divine. This is the paradox of that Spirit Who is the Spirit of God, but Who makes Himself the "spirit" of the soul. It is the summit and the crown of that dynamic vision of a creation adopted by its Creator, it is the perfection of that life of relatedness, of one being's reference to another, which is the basis of the biblical universe.

And here this universe most completely transcends the highest of purely human visions of the world, even those developed among the most religious of Greek thinkers.

About a century after the Thomistic synthesis, the East saw another at once deeply traditional and strongly original, take form along its own
lines. This is the synthesis of the bishop of Thessalonia known to Byzantine and Russian Christians as St. Gregory Palamas.

It seems at first sight to be opposed point by point to that of St. Thomas. In reality, it was almost precisely the same spiritual preoccupations which motivated it and to which it wished to do justice. Yet its metaphysical
presuppositions are different although they are not so completely contradictory to those of St. Thomas as they might appear.

For Palamas, the living God that offers us His grace remains at once absolutely transcendent and yet very really communicated to His creatures. He expresses this in a line of thought which, by way of the Greek Fathers and especially St. Gregory Nazianzen and the other Cappadocians, unquestionably goes back to a Judaism of purest biblical inspiration. As the rabbis distinguished between, without separating, God in His inaccessibility to the creature and the Face (or the Angel) of God in which He really communicates Himself, so Palamas distinguishes
between the divine essence, totally incommunicable, in which neither man nor any other creature can participate either in this life or even in eternal life, and the divine "energies," in which God actually condescends to His creatures.

In contrast to the divine essence, these energies can be participated in, while they yet remain uncreated, wholly divine. They are the life
of God inasmuch as He wishes to communicate it, a life inseparable from His essence and from the three Persons Who are one with that essence,
but distinct from Them to the point of being capable of being participated in by created persons.

What is more, since man is inseparably body and soul, the divine energies in permeating his soul transfigure even his body of flesh: this is the light of Thabor, the light shining from the face of Christ at the Transfiguration, as it had once been reflected from the face of Moses at Sinai, and as it snatched away the prophet Elias in the fiery chariot.

This light, which not only illuminates the soul but also tranfigures the body, is nonetheless called "uncreated" for the reason that it is the
product, the immediate activity of the divine energies in us.

If we wish to indicate the points of contrast between St. Thomas and Palamas, we can pick them out easily. On the one hand, absolute simplicity of the divine essence, in which grace already allows us to participate and which we shall see without any intermediary in the eternity of the blessed.

On the other hand, division, or at least real
distinction, between the divine essence and the "energies," so that, in grace, the energies act directly within our whole being, while the
essence itself, in this life and the next, remains impenetrable, inaccessible to us.

On the one hand, again, created grace, but one which assures our participation in the very essence of God. On the other, uncreated
grace, but one which causes us to participate only in the energies radiating from the essence.

Although St. Gregory Palamas was as persuaded as was Thomas himself of the necessity for realistic thinking, and for a realism which should be critical and therefore nourished by Aristotle rather than by Plato - though by an Aristotle rectified by the Bible and the tradition of the
Fathers - he was certainly a less rigorous philosopher.

His concern was directly spiritual, and he wished to be a theologian only to defend the spirituality which seemed to him traditional, not to speculate for the sake of speculating. It is, therefore, an easy game to criticize, from
a strictly philosophical point of view, the real distinction he made between the divine essence and the divine energies.

The fact remains that the same contradiction encountered here is at least latent in the Thomistic theological conception of a grace which is created even though it causes us to participate in the divine nature itself.

For on the one hand as on the other, we run into the unheard-of paradox of biblical faith, the paradox that no Greek concept could include: of the transcendent God Who yet communicates Himself and Who really communicates Himself, without for all that absorbing His creature, much less being dissolved in it.

Furthermore, we must not be deceived by some of his expressions. While Gregory Palamas speaks of the divine essence as unpartakable, unknowable, this must be understood, as with the Cappadocians, in the sense of an adequate knowledge or of a participation which would make us divine persons.

Conversely, the participation which St. Thomas
envisages is only an analogical participation and the vision necessarily not comprehensive. Under one formulation as under the other, what is
meant is a communication of the divine life which is authentic, and which becomes authentically our own, without implying any pantheistic immanence or any form of externalism.

Moreover, the notion, which at first sight seems so disturbing, of an "uncreated" light which yet can be seen even by the eyes of the body, simply synthesizes this life of the body in the soul and the life of the soul in God by grace, which is the ideal of humanity as Thomism itself conceives it.

There is no doubt that, in Thomistic thought, the
transfiguration of the body at the resurrection, however mysterious it remains, will be the effect of its receiving the radiation of the beatific vision as it takes possession of the soul in its entirety - a soul to which, let us remember, it is essential to be the form of a body.

In spite of the apparent conflict between Thomism and Palamism, we should, therefore, recognize in both systems, from the viewpoint of spirituality, the final triumph of the biblical idea of man over all the dangers of warping which the usage of terms or ideas borrowed from the Hellenistic idea of man might have involved."

Louis Bouyer, INTRODUCTION TO SPIRITUALITY, pp. 152-156
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 01:55 PM

Dear Gerard,

Thanks for the refresher course on Uncreated Grace 101! smile

(As an aside, did you know that Peter Lombard is a local saint in Italy, having been beatified by a bishop there before the decree of Urban VIII? I have his icon!).

The moral tradition of Aquinas was very welcomingly accepted in the East, and Meyendorff quotes a private prayer of an Orthodox Christian to Aquinas that tries to exonerate him for teaching the "Filioque heresy" of the West!

Patriarch Joseph Slipyj had an Eastern Icon of Aquinas written for his St Sophia Church in Rome as well.

Aquinas had an intimate familiarity with the Eastern Church and grasped the nuances of Eastern Triadology much better than Augustine (Augustine, as you will recall, submitted that he may not grasp all that the Cappadocian school taught and asked to be corrected when his understanding failed in this regard - for this reason the East continues to venerate him despite disagreements over his ideas on Original Sin).

Aquinas also interpreted the Filioque in terms that would have been familiar to St John of Damascus and St Maximos the Confessor or "Through the Son." (St John of Damascus in his "De Fide Orthodoxa" actually denies that it can be said that the Son proceeds "from the Father").

Aquinas' views on created grace need not concern Eastern theologians at all as he was writing from within his own legitimate Particular Latin theological tradition.

Aquinas also answered in the negative on the issue of the Immaculate Conception, again speaking against the backdrop of the Augustinian notions surrounding Original Sin that also are no concern for Eastern Christians who were, thankfully, spared that controversy.

Alex
Posted By: George Blaisdell

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 02:38 PM

Alex writes:

In terms of ... the Charismatic movement - ... a de-emphasis of the Cross over the emotional enthusiasm for the Spirit and the "Gifts" as they defined them... I was told to let go, let go, Alex etc.

Not all that glistens is gold. The Eastern Church monastic Fathers know a lot more than anyone about sobriety and spiritual states.

There is little sobriety in that movement. I know the sites you list.

But more than that, I've been in that movement.

It taught me a lot. The number one thing it taught me is to get out of it before my Catholic faith suffered.

Eastern Catholic and Orthodox theology have a much more Patristically and Scripturally defined idea of the Role of the Holy Spirit that is also liturgically based.

I need no more than this treasure.

______________________________

Awesome witness, Alex, and a common one coming out of that movement. I read Seraphim Rose's "Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future", and he describes prelest - communion with demons - very elegantly and graphically, and shows by examples, some from the Charismatic movement, a little of how the deceptions work. [The real master in a book is Bp. Brianchaninov in "The Arena"]. The Charismatic movement, being an emotionally based indulgence in "spiritual pleasure" - pleasurable ecstatic states outside the Church among large gatherings of people - is quite simply demon worship. You did well to "get outta Dodge!" This "Painless Christianity" that indulges "spiritually pleasurable" states, indeed SEEKS them, is really very easy demonic pickings... They are hard enough to dig out of prayer and fasting!!

geo
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 02:52 PM

Dear George,

Right you are again, Sir!

(You seem to make me want to call you "Sir" and so I just do it! smile )

I think the Roman Catholic Church can learn much from the Eastern monastic tradition of spiritual guidance and ascesis.

There can be no real Life in Christ and Theosis in the Spirit without ascesis, and I think Western Christianity in general seems to have largely forgotten this.

Discernment of spirits by trained spiritual Fathers is another area.

The idea of some of the charismatics that I knew jumping up and down and experiencing all kinds of "Gifts" at a single bound is not only questionable at best (and I'm really trying to be charitable) but is really not the picture of spiritual progress and struggle that we get from the Bible and the Fathers.

When the Spirit comes to us, He comes on HIS own terms. And St Seraphim's conversation with Motovilov is an excellent eye-witness account of a truly Charismatic Christian for our times.

Alex
Posted By: George Blaisdell

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 03:05 PM

From Gerard Serafin

George writes:

>Besides, what do you do with John's: "God IS Love." All Three Persons ARE Love... Yes? Love is not just something They DO, is it?

>>>I would speak very similiarily to Father Alexander Schmemman who puts it:

"We believe in one God, but not a God in solitude, not in God-self-love. God is love, teaches Christian faith. Yet love is openness to the other, and at its greatest the offering of oneself to the other. The Father... loves the Son and gives everything to him. The Son loves the Father and gives himself to him. Finally, the very gift of love, this very love.... is the Holy Spirit...

"If God is the lover and the Son the beloved, then the Holy Spirit is the love that joins them together.... Such is the Mystery of God-the Trinity, the God of love." (Voskresnye besedy , Sunday Sermons, Moscow 1993, p.81)

...the Most Blessed Trinity is the Lover, the Beloved, and Their holy Love (and the "love-mysticism" posits the need for a Third Person to complete the "isness" of Love as in God "is" Love - not just that God loves....<<<

And in a similar way we could say that God is Being, Christ is Truth, and the Holy Spirit of Truth is the RELATIONSHIP of Being and Truth, except PERSONIFIED... And indeed, the Very Spirit of Truth!!!

>>>I may not be expressing it too well but I do think lovers might understand to some degree...<<<

The cognitive challenge is not hard - I love you, and you love me, and between us and surrounding us is our Love, and it is greater than either of us, or even both of us together outside It... And this is how the Father and the Son commune... In the Person of the Holy Spirit, Who is greater than both together. [Or not, depending on one's thoughts about it.]

The Eastern Church, of course, has the Holy Spirit IN communion with the Father and the Son, and not AS the communion itself, except personified.

geo
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 03:13 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Alex writes:

Aquinas had an intimate familiarity with the Eastern Church and grasped the nuances of Eastern Triadology much better than Augustine (Augustine, as you will recall, submitted that he may not grasp all that the Cappadocian school taught and asked to be corrected when his understanding failed in this regard - for this reason the East continues to venerate him despite disagreements over his ideas on Original Sin).

Aquinas also interpreted the Filioque in terms that would have been familiar to St John of Damascus and St Maximos the Confessor or "Through the Son." (St John of Damascus in his "De Fide Orthodoxa" actually denies that it can be said that the Son proceeds "from the Father").


Hi Alex,

Of course, you know that Aquinas explicitly disagrees with the Damascene only once (and Thomas quotes him many times): on the issue of the procession of the Holy Spirit and he even (wrongly) accuses the Damascene of following "the Nestorians" here....

On my own Filioque Page I have a fine article, originally published by the Saint Vladimir's Theological Quarterly comparing the way Thomas and John deal with the procession of the Holy Spirit. It can be found and read at:

http://praiseofglory.com/torre.htm

Thanks for your reply. Glad to hear Peter Lombard is a local saint. His Sentences had tremendous influence!
Posted By: George Blaisdell

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 03:14 PM

Alex:

"Right you are again, Sir!

"(You seem to make me want to call you "Sir" and so I just do it!)"

Doubtless because I am old, smelly, in pain all the time, have a crappy attitude, and am uncharitable!

But enough about my virtues! :rolleyes:

"And St Seraphim's conversation with Motovilov is an excellent eye-witness account of a truly Charismatic Christian for our times."

Where do I find it?

geo
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 03:20 PM

Dear George,

Here is an excellent on-line version:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/wonderful.htm

God bless!

Alex
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 03:21 PM

Dear Gerard,

Yes, that is an excellent article.

Forgive me for asking, but where did you pick up your astuteness with Orthodoxy?

Alex
Posted By: George Blaisdell

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 03:31 PM

Dear George,

Here is an excellent on-line version:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/wonderful.htm

God bless!

Alex

Allrightythen! It IS the same one I thought it was. Great story - Took me to the autobiography of St. Patrick, where he said that 'by now I no longer needed blankets to sleep out on the ground in winter' [as I recall]... As he described his spiritual development and its consequences in ascesis...

geo
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 03:35 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

George writes:

The Eastern Church, of course, has the Holy Spirit IN communion with the Father and the Son, and not AS the communion itself, except personified.

The western Catholic Church, too, fully honors the Unique Person of the Holy Spirit, who is not a quality or a "thing" but a Person in relationship.

The traditional conclusion to almost all liturgical prayer in the Roman tradition has been, and still is:

Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus per omnia sęcula sęculorum. Amen.

Literally: Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who with you lives and reigns, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ages of ages. Amen.

So the Father and Son are one in the communion of the Person of the Holy Spirit - and I wonder how this differs from what you say about the view of the Eastern Church.

[ 08-08-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 03:38 PM

Dear Geore, er, Sir,

Yes, love those Celtic Saints!

The Celi De monks would get up, as you know, at 3:00 am to begin their Office and to read the entire Psalter by 3:00 pm in the afternoon. The Celtic Rite was also the only Western one to actually do prostrations.

Much of it was influenced throught the writings of St John Cassian following his sojourn through Coptic Egypt and the Thebaid.

I visited the Isle of St Honorat, Lerine in France and one may still see the seven small eremitic communities that surrounded the main coenobitic monastery there, again from the influence and writings of St John Cassian.

Since he opposed Augustine on original sin, Cassian's cult is only local to Marseilles!

Alex
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 03:44 PM

Dear Gerard,

An interesting point in terms of the way East and West understands God.

God in the West is liturgically celebrated as "One" in terms of the one God the Father or the one Lord Jesus Christ.

In a sense, that is natural to the West since the oneness of God can be attained through the use of reason.

The East on the other hand celebrates the mystical revelation of the Trinity and the entire Trinity is invoked constantly, something that Jungmann, I believe, discussed at several points.

There was even a council in the West that decreed that only God the Father was to be invoked at the altar - I don't remember the source or the council, could you help me out here?

Eastern Spirituality is much more focused on the Trinity of Persons, even though it does share the dynamic Ecnonomic view of the Trinity e.g. to the Father through the Son by means of the Spirit.

As John Hardon (see, the old brain hasn't lost its memory yet) once wrote in his Catholic Catechism, I believe, the East has a "social conception" of the Divinity. It is that term of his that has kept me fascinated with Eastern theology ever since.

(I heard that there is a movement afoot to prepare the way for the introduction of a Cause for Fr. Hardon at Rome - do you know anything about that?)

Alex
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 04:26 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Alex writes:

God in the West is liturgically celebrated as "One" in terms of the one God the Father or the one Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, and here the "arche" of the Father, as source and root of the entire Trinity, is honored in her prayer: lex orandi, lex credendi. It is interesting that the Roman Rite retains even to this day the oldest tradition here: prayer to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

The later tradition of invoking the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as "God" can be found more in the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. But it seems to me some of the older prayers, especially in the Liturgy of St Basil, reflect the more ancient tradition and address the Father "through your Beloved Son" or "through the Only-Begotten Son" or simply "through your Christ" (I quote here by memory only!).

In a sense, that is natural to the West since the oneness of God can be attained through the use of reason.

The liturgical address is to *the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ* and has nothing to do with any One God available to reason. NADA! (I'm surprised to read these words from you especially).

The East on the other hand celebrates the mystical revelation of the Trinity and the entire Trinity is invoked constantly, something that Jungmann, I believe, discussed at several points.

As I recall Jungman he claimed the Roman Rite retained the more ancient tradition of prayer to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit, while the east, in reaction to Arianism, began to invoke the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the One God.

This fact (as I believe is verifiable) can overturn actually some quite popular "myths" about differences between east and west. From my perspective, the Latin Liturgy remains more "economic" in its formulations and gives more expression to the "arche" of the Father as well! Huh? Some may say. Check it out, I reply.

There was even a council in the West that decreed that only God the Father was to be invoked at the altar - I don't remember the source or the council, could you help me out here?

Yes, a local Council of either Orange or Carthage decreed that all prayer be directed to the Father. Remember, though, this is the "Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ". As a rule, all liturgical prayer of the Roman Rite follows this decree (with some exceptions of course, thank God!).

Eastern Spirituality is much more focused on the Trinity of Persons, even though it does share the dynamic Ecnonomic view of the Trinity e.g. to the Father through the Son by means of the Spirit.

There is, I suspect, some truth in what you suggest. However, I would nuance it too. For example, I know no spirituality more explicitly Trinitarian than that of the early Cistercian Fathers. Even John of the Cross is explicitly Trinitarian in a remarkable way, especially as he faltingly describes the state of the deified soul.

On the contrary, many of the eastern Fathers, while completely affirming the dogma of the Trinity, when they enter the "holy of holies" so to speak, begin, it seems to me, to leave much Trinitarianism behind, and speak almost in terms of a platonic One. My favorite, by far, theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, makes this claim powerfully in several places (some of which are on my website and if some are interested I could give the URLs).

I have found often enough that assumptions and sometimes commonly made assertions do not necessarily hold up under closer scrutiny. I have this to be the case, often, regarding statements about eastern versus western Trinitarian understandings and praxis.

And I am always learning more...

Now, God willing, to plunge into a restful siesta where the Lord can give to his beloved while they sleep....

Blessings on all!

[ 08-08-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 05:21 PM

Dear Gerard,

Don't let me disturb your siesta - it is a most civilized thing!

I don't know why you were perturbed at my generalization about the One God. Of course, this is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

The West is more rationalistic than the East, do you not agree? That is a generalization which I think reflects well on the actual state of affairs.

My comment about the one God comes from a series of articles published by Eugene Ivankiw in the "Visnyk" or "Herald" published by St Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in Chicago. These were quite a while ago and I happen to agree with him. There is nothing wrong with that approach either, just that the East is generally more attuned to the mystical, revelatory perspective. Again, it doesn't come from me but from another and I happen to agree with it.

Yes, the Roman Rite certainly has focused on the Economic Trinity in its liturgy and prayer.

But the Byzantine tradition was never constrained by it, even though it does certainly reflect it in its own prayers. The Coptic Church ends every Our Father with the "Through our Lord Jesus Christ" following Origen's admonition.

We begin, as you know, all our prayers with the prayer to the Holy Spirit directly. There are prayers directly to Christ and to the Mother of God. Perhaps it's me, but does the Roman Rite Liturgy, old or new, every directly address the Mother of God at the altar? I don't believe it does, but I stand corrected if you can indicate to me otherwise.

It was not only the East that began to emphasize direct prayer to all Three Persons in response to Arianism and then as part of its theological emphasis in general - St Benedict was the one who likewise prescribed the Glory be . . . for after every Psalm for the same reason.

Both approaches to the Trinity are needed and the East, as you've shown, does indeed have a strong devotion to the economic Trinity, for which reason in part it reacted to the West's "Filioque" when it did (although this bad theological expression that was placed in the Creed against the admonitions of the Councils that proclaimed it was only used in some Western locales at first - the Pope John of St Photios' time who reconciled with the Patriarch actually called it 'heretical.')

I think devotion to all three Persons of the Trinity is wonderful wink and I love the Byzantine and other Eastern Churches for having such a rich liturgical expression of it.

Regardless of how the Western Fathers expressed themselves theologically on this, it didn't make its way into the Liturgy in quite the same, full way and that, I think, is sad.

Alex
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 05:48 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Alex writes:

Both approaches to the Trinity are needed and the East, as you've shown, does indeed have a strong devotion to the economic Trinity, for which reason in part it reacted to the West's "Filioque" when it did (although this bad theological expression that was placed in the Creed against the admonitions of the Councils that proclaimed it was only used in some Western locales at first - the Pope John of St Photios' time who reconciled with the Patriarch actually called it 'heretical.')

Here, too, Alex, I would ask a reference, that is verifiable. I have read pretty much everything I could get my hands on about the Filioque and have never come across a statement asserting a Pope called this - what you refer to as - "a bad theological expression" - "heretical."

I realize there was a spurious letter attributed to Pope John that critiqued the insertion of the filioque into the Creed (the great historian Msgr Francis Dvornak demonstrates its spuriousness), but even here I do not recall the use of the term "heretical."

Either I know even less than I thought or you know infinitely more than I do. Either case is quite possible.

Just give a verifiable reference, please.

Thank you (and I believe such comments as you make here should be able to be "backed up" and not just "spouted off" - don't be offended by my bluntness, please).

I hope to reply to more of your post in a bit. But now to make a cup of coffee to start my second day in one day - everyday!!! God is good!!!
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 05:56 PM

Dear Gerard,

Ah, but there is where the difference between us lies.

The "bad theological expression" is my own assessment of the Filioque, based on my own reading and thought, from both the RC, Orthodox and Eastern Catholic vantage points.

Meyendorff makes mention of Pope John's reference, and if it was spurious, then why did Pope John agree with St Photios on the Creed without the Filioque?

The problem with your approach, you see, is that we can heap bibliographies on one another.

But the question is the Filioque itself. Both of us have read enough about it to be able to discuss it intelligently ourselves. There is no sacred text out there than can settle this issue and this is not "spouting."

I do take offence at your use of this rude and really reprehensible term. You certainly take offence quickly enough at me for being "personal" with you. And you think such a term applied to me is not?

You have a thing or two to learn about common courtesy - and being a little more dispassionate about your triumphalist Latin perspective that sees an enemy in anyone who even questions the Western approach.

Sorry, but that's not on. And this is where I get off.

Alex
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 06:10 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Alex writes:

You have a thing or two to learn about common courtesy - and being a little more dispassionate about your triumphalist Latin perspective that sees an enemy in anyone who even questions the Western approach.

In the area under discussion, the Trinity in east and west, I am most interested in learning as much as I can. This is an area dear to my own heart (and soul). I do not think I have seen an enemy in anyone questioning the western approach, (I haven't seen enemies anywhere yet in this thread at all!).

I have contributed a few of my own observations and responses - and have disagreed with some observations shared by some as well. That's to be expected I hope.

Regarding you: I did question your comment about a Pope calling the Filioque "heretical" - and believe such comments, since they can have some serious consequences, should be able to be verified. I hope if I ever make a strong claim I can back up any quote I refer to or reference I make. Otherwise I would be "spouting off" myself. And would not be offended, I hope, if someone suggested that was what I was doing if I couldn't back up my assertions.

And, yes, in another thread I questioned you on yet another quote attributed to another Pope. I think I have such a right to ask for verifiable references to such assertions.

Be that as it may: I am sorry you are so offended. As I mentioned in the original post, I had hoped you wouldn't be offended. I do not chisel my words. I am sure I can learn more about common courtesies. But I do not think I said anything to cause you - or anyone else - to "shake the dust off your feet" in my regard.

But you are free of course....and I have no power to make you change your mind.

However, I have enjoyed our conversations greatly and am sad to think they might be over.
Posted By: Brendan

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 06:14 PM

Perhaps someone who has ready access to it can dust off Fr. Dvornik's writing on the topic of the council that took place with Pope John VIII. I think that would help to clear things up.
Posted By: George Blaisdell

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/08/02 06:41 PM

From Alex:

>Dear Geore, er, Sir,

[Ye Ol' Smelly One is as good as Ge-ore!]

>Yes, love those Celtic Saints!

>The Celi De monks would get up, as you know, at 3:00 am to begin their Office and to read the entire Psalter by 3:00 pm in the afternoon. The Celtic Rite was also the only Western one to actually do prostrations.

I did NOT know - Thank-you! Immersion in the faith seems to be the key, rather than engagement or praxis, unless the praxis constitutes a 24/7 effort... millisecond by millesecond!

>Much of it was influenced throught the writings of St John Cassian following his sojourn through Coptic Egypt and the Thebaid.

More news, Thanks again - I was just impressed that when he was kidnapped, his dad was a deacon, his grandfather a priest, so that even though he was stuck out by himself tending critters, he knew, at 14, what he needed to do, and had the wherewithal, apparently memorized, to do it, and succeed...

>I visited the Isle of St Honorat, Lerine in France and one may still see the seven small eremitic communities that surrounded the main coenobitic monastery there, again from the influence and writings of St John Cassian.

I think Podraigue's grand-pa was from France...

>Since he opposed Augustine on original sin, Cassian's cult is only local to Marseilles!

Well, as well, when the split occurred, the Isle of Saints, Ireland, which had been producing saints heavily until the split, was effectively shut down, and stopped producing any but a handful [by western rite standards at that] for the next 800 years or so... The Eastern Christian tradition in the west did not do well at all under the post-schism Popes... They were pretty effectively shut down, [perhaps with only a few 'hags' [hAGIAS] left in the woods - I have wondered if these might have been the focus of much of the inquisition...].

geo
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/09/02 02:17 AM

Come, Holy Spirit!

Alex writes:

We begin, as you know, all our prayers with the prayer to the Holy Spirit directly. There are prayers directly to Christ and to the Mother of God. Perhaps it's me, but does the Roman Rite Liturgy, old or new, every directly address the Mother of God at the altar? I don't believe it does, but I stand corrected if you can indicate to me otherwise.

Not sure, Alex, by what you mean "at the altar" - are you referring to the eucharistic liturgy or including all the liturgical services, such as the Liturgy of the Hours.

In the Eucharistic Liturgy the Latin Church almost never addresses Our Lady, but I believe it can happen in some "Introits" etc. One comes to mind: O salve sancta parens.... but, in general, the prayers of the Roman Rite invoke the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; a few prayers invoke Our Lord himself, and a few the Holy Spirit, such as the golden sequence, Veni, Sancte Spiritus

In some liturgical celebrations, such as at the Vigil of Easter and ordinations, the Litany of the Saints is used. This invokes Mary and other saints - Holy Mother of God, pray for us, etc.

In the Liturgy of the Hours there are some Marian prayers, most especially the Marian antiphons of Compline - such as the Salve Regina and the Regina Coeli Laetare, etc.

So it does seem there are some direct invocations of the Blessed Virgin at the altar and certainly in her liturgy. But not as often, I suspect, as in the Byzantine Liturgical Services.

[ 08-08-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]
Posted By: Gerard Serafin

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/09/02 01:08 PM

Come, Holy Spirit!

To all:

One reason I am so "smitten" with the Filioque as doctrine is the "spiritual fragrance" I find emanating from it and the resonance with my totally inadequate experience of the Triune Life and Love of God bestowed even on me, unworthy as I am. Here is one such example from someone far more worthy to speak of these mysteries than I am, the great John of the Cross (whose poems are considered by many the high-point of Spanish literature!):

A SPIRITUAL CANTICLE OF THE SOUL AND THE BRIDEGROOM CHRIST- an excerpt

by ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS

STANZA XXXIX

The breathing of the air,
The song of the sweet nightingale,
The grove and its beauty
In the serene night,
With the flame that consumes, and gives no pain.


The soul refers here, under five different expressions, to that which the Bridegroom is to give it in the beatific transformation.

1. The aspiration of the Holy Spirit of God after it, and its own aspiration after God.
2. Joyous praise of God in the fruition of Him.
3. The knowledge of creatures and the order of them.
4. The pure and clear contemplation of the divine
essence.
5. Perfect transformation in the infinite love of God.

"The breathing of the air"

2. This is a certain faculty which God will there give the soul in the communication of the Holy Spirit, Who, like one breathing, raises the soul
by His divine aspiration, informs it, strengthens it, so that it too may breathe in God with the same aspiration of love which the Father breathes with the Son, and the Son with the Father, which is the Holy Spirit Himself, Who is breathed into the soul in the Father and the Son in that transformation so as to unite it to Himself; for the transformation will not be true and perfect if the soul is not transformed in the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity in a clear manifest degree.

This breathing of the Holy Spirit in the soul, whereby God transforms it in Himself, is to the soul a joy so deep, so exquisite, and so grand that no mortal tongue can describe it, no human understanding, as such, conceive it in any degree; for even that which passes in the soul with respect to the communication which takes place in its transformation wrought in this
life cannot be described, because the soul united with God and transformed in Him breathes in God that very divine aspiration which God breathes Himself in the soul when it is transformed in Him.

3. In the transformation which takes place in this life, this breathing of God in the soul, and of the soul in God, is of most frequent occurrence, and the source of the most exquisite delight of love to the soul, but not however in the clear and manifest degree which it will have in the life to come. This, in my opinion, is what St. Paul referred to when he said: "Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father." The blessed in the life to come, and the perfect in this, thus experience it.

4. Nor is it to be thought possible that the soul should be capable of so great a thing as that it should breathe in God as God in it, in the way of
participation. For granting that God has bestowed upon it so great a favor as to unite it to the most Holy Trinity, whereby it becomes like God, and God by participation, is it altogether incredible that it should exercise the faculties of its understanding, perform its acts of knowledge and of love, or, to speak more accurately, should have it all done in the Holy Trinity together with It, as the Holy Trinity itself? This, however, takes place by communication and participation, God Himself effecting it in the soul, for this is "to be transformed in the Three Persons" in power, wisdom, and love, and herein it is that the soul becomes like God, Who, that it might come to this, created it to His own image and likeness.

5. How this can be so cannot be explained in any other way than by showing how the Son of God has raised us to so high a state, and merited for us the "power to be made the sons of God." He prayed to the Father, saying: "Father, I will that where I am they also whom You have given Me may be with Me, that they may see My glory which You have given Me."

That is,"that they may do by participation in Us what I do naturally, namely, breathe the Holy Spirit." He says also: "Not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in Me; that they all may be one, as
You, Father, in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that You have sent Me. And the glory which You have given Me, I have given to them: that they may be one as We also are one. I in them and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have also loved Me,"-- that is, in bestowing upon them that love which He bestows upon the Son, though not naturally as upon Him, but in the way I speak of, in the union and transformation of love.

6. We are not to suppose from this that our Lord prayed that the saints might become one in essence and nature, as the Father and the Son are; but that they might become one in the union of love as the Father and the Son are one in the oneness of love. Souls have by participation that very God which the Son has by nature, and are therefore really gods by participation like unto God and of His society.

7. St. Peter speaks of this as follows: "Grace to you and peace be accomplished in the knowledge of God, and Christ Jesus our Lord; as all things of His divine power, which pertain to life and godliness, are given us by the knowledge of Him Who has called us by His own proper glory and
virtue, by Whom He has given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature."

Thus far St. Peter, who clearly teaches that the soul will be a partaker of God Himself, and will do, together with Him, the work of the Most Holy Trinity, because of the substantial union between the soul and God. And though this union is perfect only in the life to come, yet even in this, in the state of perfection, which the soul is said now to have attained, some anticipation of its sweetness is given it, in the way I am speaking of, though in a manner wholly ineffable.

8. O souls created for this and called to this, what are you doing? What are your occupations? Your aim is meanness, and your enjoyments misery. Oh, wretched blindness of the children of Adam, blind to so great a light, and deaf to so clear a voice; you do not see that, while seeking after greatness and glory, you are miserable and contemptible, ignorant, and unworthy of blessings so great. I now proceed to the second expression
which the soul has made use of to describe that which He gave it...."

I would especially appreciate any critiques from an "eastern" Trinitarian perspective.

[ 08-09-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]
Posted By: byzinroswell

Re: Trinity in East and West - 08/12/02 12:04 PM

John 15:26
"But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me."

Maybe I am naive, but it seems to me that Jesus Himself said the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone.

I attended 8 years of Roman elementary school with nuns (remember them?.... haven't seen one in years, sadly). Never could understand the
Spirit from what I was taught there, The Spirit did not seem to really be a Person, not equal to the Father and the Son. The Spirit was a complete mystery.

But as I read Orthodox theology, the Spirit has now become an equal Person, is somewhat less of a mystery. And that the Trisagion prayers begins with the prayer to the Holy Spirit shows to me the devotion the East feels towards the Spirit.

I keep a holy card of Rublev's Holy Trinity on my night stand as a constant reminder of the Trinity.

That's all.
Not a theologian
denise
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