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Orthodox Faith and Spirituality

John Meyendorff, The Orthodox Church,
Its Past nad its Role in the World Today,

ed. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press,
New York 1981, p. 190 207


We mentioned earlier the great spiritual legacy which the Orthodox Church has inherited from its medieval forebear, the Byzantine Church . This legacy embraces the prayers, hymns, and other formulas of our liturgical services, the canonical organization and discipline of the churches, our spiritual tradition, and the dogmatic system of the Orthodox faith. Yet, while it is perfectly true that the Orthodox Church claims to be the true Church of Christ, the one and only Catholic Church, the Orthodox theologian, nevertheless, is under a strict obligation to distinguish carefully in this heritage between that which forms part of the Church's Holy Tradition, unalterable and universally binding, received from the past, and that which is a mere relic of former times, venerable no doubt in many respects but sometimes also sadly out of date and even harmful to the mission of the Church. All modernism of the wrong kind is of course to be condemned, as exemplified recently by the Renovated Church in Russia, but also all narrow conservatism like that of the Russian Old Believers, which tends to canonize the past as such. These two tendencies, unfortunately, are always present in most local Orthodox churches and soon make themselves felt. We need to be continually on guard against them. But this can be done only by persons who have received a sound training in theological principles, who are prepared to show a genuine respect for tradition, and who are disposed at all times and in all things to be guided by revealed Truth.

It is not possible within the limits of this book to offer the reader anything like a full systematic account of Orthodox doctrines (1) . He will undoubtedly have been able to gather from the preceding pages what the main Orthodox positions are on a number of points, and further dogmatic questions will be taken up in the chapter which follows. It is our purpose here merely to give a general survey of the mysteries of the Christian faith as the Orthodox Church sees them, to describe the Orthodox attitude toward them, and finally to dwell somewhat on the Orthodox conception of man's communion with God. The Orthodox faith is expressed, jointly, by its spiritual tradition and the declared dogmas of the Church, by the lives of the saints, and by the doctrines of its teachers (the Fathers of the Church and other theologians). It is both the lex orandi and the lex credendi of the Church. According to V. Lossky :

Eastern tradition has never clearly distinguished between mysticism and theology, between a personal experience of the divine mysteries and the dogmas declared by the Church. . . . The dogma which expresses a revealed truth and appears to us like an unfathomable mystery, must be lived in such a way that, instead of assimilating the mystery to our manner of understanding it, we must, on the contrary, strive to bring about a profound change, an inner transformation of the soul, so that we will be more receptive toward the mystical experience. Far from being opposed to each other, theology and mysticism mutually support and supplement each other. One is impossible without the other. If mysticism is the application by the individual of the content of the common faith to his own experience, theology is the expression of that which can be experienced by each one for the benefit of all (2) .

The new reality made available to the world by the Incarnation of the Word and made effective in the Church through the operation of the Holy Spirit is not a mere sum of knowledge, but a New Life. It is transformation, a transfiguration of our being. We do not achieve it simply by reading the Word of God or through a knowledge of dogmas, but by dying and rising again with Christ in Baptism, by receiving the seal of the Spirit in Confirmation, by becoming members of the actual Body of Christ in the Eucharist, and finally by making progress in ever greater knowledge, until we attain the "stature of the man made in Jesus Christ" (Eph. iv.13). This sacramental nature of the true life in the Spirit presupposes the existence of a visible Church with a hierarchy possessing special functions and a charisma to teach, but it also means that the saints are authentic witnesses of the actual presence of God in the midst of his people. By means of its hierarchic and sacramental structure, the Church expresses the permanence and reality of the union brought about, in Christ, between the human and the divine. The Ascension of Jesus does not mean the end of his presence but the glorification of human nature, which is now deified and seated on the right hand of the Father. It presupposes Pentecost and the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father to the Church. The Spirit builds the Body of Christ in history, confers the sacraments, establishes the Church in truth, and guarantees its permanence and its infallibility. It operates through various charismas, including those of teaching and pastoring which are proper to the bishops, but it does not impose itself, magically, on the inner freedom of the individual which constitutes the very basis of the human person. Each one of us receives, through the sacraments, a seed of sanctity, but it is up to us to make it bear fruit. The Church as an "institution" is therefore not opposed to the Church as an "event," but the one presupposes the other, as grace presupposes our personal efforts to make it effective. Since the age of the Fathers the Orthodox Church has always upheld the doctrine of synergeia, that is, the collaboration between divine grace and the free will of man on his way toward God. We are all saints by grace, but we must become saints by our acts and in our whole being.

God, in his very Being, his Providence, his Incarnation, his presence in the Church, and his manifestation of himself at the end of time, is the unique Object whom the saints know and whom theologians seek to express by their formulas. Two aspects of the conception of God appear to be particularly important if we wish to understand Orthodox theology as a whole. These two aspects-going back of course to the Greek Fathers-are the absolute transcendence and the trinitarian, that is, the personal, nature of the Divine Being.

God's transcendence is a logical consequence of the Biblical account of creation ex nihilo. This is one of the essential traits of Biblical religion. The Bible clearly affirms that the world is not an emanation of the divine nor a reflection of a preexistent reality, much less an extension of the Divine Being, as the result of any natural necessity. God, says St. Paul, "sends his call to that which has no being, as if it already was" (Rom. iv.17). The world did not exist before the divine Fiat, but it began to exist, thus giving birth to the quantity we call "time." To be sure the Fathers spoke of "ideas" existing in the divine Mind before the creation of the world, but these ideas had only dynamic and intentional character. The appearance of created beings from nothing means that these creatures belong to an order of existence essentially different from God, an order called by the Fathers, beginning with St. Athanasius, the "natural" order, created by the will of God and existing by his will alone. Between God and the created world there can be no "interdependence," there can only be a total "dependence" of the creature on the Creator.

The abyss between the Absolute and the relative, the Uncreated and creatures, is a theme constantly recurring throughout the New Testament, and is what Christian theologians and mystics mean by the "transcendence" and "unknown ability" of the divine Essence. Creatures can know each other, among themselves, but when it comes to knowing God they are crushed, as it were, by their total dependence on him and by their virtual nonexistence. Their only resource is to assert that God is not what they conceive him to be, that he is not like any creature, that no image or word can express his Being (3) . Unknown in his essence, God has however revealed himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: the Son became man and the Spirit descended on the Church. The Christian God therefore is not the "unknown God" venerated by philosophers, but a living God who reveals himself and acts. This is the meaning of the Orthodox doctrine concerning the divine energies or actions, which are distinct from the unknowable essence, as formulated by St. Gregory Palamas in the fourteenth century (4) . The Old Testament has much to say about the divine intervention in the history of the Chosen People, but with Christianity we have a fullness of divine action in history: the Son of God "dispossessed himself, and took the nature of a slave, fashioned in the likeness of men, and presenting himself to us in human form; and then he lowered his own dignity, accepted an obedience which brought him death, death on the cross" (Phil. ii.78). Henceforth the divine acts affect not only the external man, but their very Source has assumed human nature, which is now deified in Jesus Christ. We are no longer limited to acknowledging the transcendence and omnipotence of God, but we may also accept the salvation which he grants us and assimilate the divine grace which he gives us. This is what the Fathers meant by "deification": God became man that we might become God (5). This deification is realized when we become members of the Body of Christ, but also, and especially, by the unction of the Spirit when the latter touches each one of us: the "economy of the Holy Spirit" means precisely this, that we are able to enjoy communion with the one and truly deified humanity of Jesus Christ throughout history from the time of the Ascension to the final Parousia (6) : "God has sent out the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out in us, Abba, Father" (Gal. iv.6).

This "personal" emphasis of Orthodox theology and mysticism is intimately connected with the way in which the Fathers interpret the transcendence of God; that is, God remains unknowable in his unique essence, but he has revealed himself as a Trinity of Three Persons. The God of the Bible therefore is known to the extent that He is a living and acting Deity, the One to whom the prayers of the Church are addressed, the One who has sent His Son for the salvation of the world. This particular emphasis of the thought of the Eastern Fathers distinguishes them- without opposing them, however-to the way in which their Latin brothers preferred to think of God first as a unique essence, and then only as a Trinity (7) . These two different attitudes would later give rise to two schools of Trinitarian theology. In Latin theology, the divine Persons were considered as the simple inner relations of the unique essence of the Godhead: hence, if the very existence of the Spirit is determined by its relations to the Father and the Son, the doctrine of the Filioque -or procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son-becomes a logical, dogmatic necessity, for the Spirit cannot be said to be distinct from the Son if he does not proceed from him (8). Eastern theologians, on the other hand, remained faithful to the old " personalism " of the Greek Fathers. The doctrine of the Filioque appeared to them, consequently, as Semi Sabellianism (to use an expression of Photius ) (9) . Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, because proceeding from the Father, the unique source of the Deity, the Spirit has his own existence and personal function in the inner life of God and in the economy of salvation: his task is to bring about the unity of the human race in the Body of Christ, but he also imparts to this unity a personal, and hence diversified, character. It is with a prayer to the Holy Spirit that all the liturgical services of the Orthodox Church begin and with an invocation of his name that the eucharistic mystery is effected.

While remaining absolutely transcendent and incomprehensible, God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, "in whom the whole plenitude of the Deity is embodied" (Col. ii.9). In this way the true Life which comes from God was communicated to men, who, until then and ever since the sin of Adam, had been subject to death, a kind of hereditary, cosmic corruption, the consequence of his revolt against God.

The drama of sin, described in the first chapters of Genesis and explained by St. Paul and the ancient Fathers of the Church, provides a key to the mystery of suffering and death as found in man, both in the past and today. Adam and Eve sinned and this sin involved their death, as well as the death of all their descendants. This doctrine of original sin, which has played such an important part in Western theology ever since the time of St. Augustine, is interpreted to mean that countless generations of men have been affected by the consequences of Adam's sin, who were not responsible, it would seem, for the original fault.

In their eagerness to reconcile this fact with a certain conception of the divine "justice," Western theologians have always insisted on the pint guilt of all men for the sin of Adam: punishment for sin could not affect all humanity unless all men had sinned "in Adam" and had therefore merited the divine wrath. This interpretation seemed to be confirmed by the Latin translation of a particular passage in the Bible- it may even have had its origin there-which speaks of the "transmission" of Adam's sin (Rom. v.12: in quo omnes peccaverunt ). But, as a matter of fact, this is an inaccurate rendering of the original Greek (10) . The Eastern Fathers who read St. Paul in the original Greek never attempted to prove the joint guilt of all the descendants of Adam for the sin of their ancestor: they merely observed that all men have inherited corruption and death by a process of inheritance and that all have committed sins. They preferred to interpret the state of affairs inherited from Adam as a slavery to the Devil, who exercises a usurped, unjust, and deadly tyranny over mankind since the sin of man's Progenitor. On the other hand God, throughout the history of Israel, sought to steer men toward salvation by preparing them gradually to receive the Promised Messiah freely and sincerely. In the fullness of time this Messiah, the true Word of God, became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Ghost-therefore outside the corrupt inheritance of Adam-triumphed over the Devil on the Cross, rose again on the third day, and has given back to mankind access to life.

It goes without saying that these fundamental mysteries of the Christian faith are of the very essence of true doctrine and have their consequences for Christian spirituality. Doctrinal differences will necessarily entail certain variations in spiritual emphasis. Thus, the Christian East has remained a stranger to the juridical conceptions of salvation which have been dominant in the West since medieval times (the doctrines of the "merits" of Jesus Christ and indulgences) and which have so profoundly affected Western spirituality. The doctrine of original sin, moreover, as the Greek Fathers understood it, excludes the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in the form in which this was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854 (11) . This dogma assumes that original sin consists of a "sin" committed "in Adam" and meriting punishment, and that the Virgin Mary could not have any share in this, for, from the moment of her conception, she was chosen and purified in view of the divine maternity. The choice that was made of her for this end is, in fact, irreconcilable with the divine anger associated with sin. But this reasoning no longer holds good if we adopt another interpretation of original sin. According to Orthodox tradition, slavery to the Devil, mortality, and corruption, transmitted by way of natural heredity, were the consequences of Adam's sin. The Virgin Mary was of course holy and pure from her conception, but she was born of Joachim and Anna in the same way that all other men have been born, and like them she was mortal: Adam's legacy was not passed over except in the case of her divine Son, who was born of the Holy Spirit. The Byzantine liturgy is certainly far from sparing in its praise of the "Mother of God": it recognizes her exceptional role in salvation-by her Fiat to the Archangel, Mary, the New Eve, is the origin of the new human race which shares in the life of God-and also extols the corporal glorification of the Theotokos after her death; it sees in her the goal and perfection of all creation, ready at last to receive the Savior-but it is Jesus Christ, and not Mary, whom the Church adores as the Prince of Life, Savior, and Redeemer, and it is he alone who benefited from an Immaculate Conception in her womb. Mary is the Mother of God, the one who, in the name of all mankind, received God the Redeemer.

Thus, in spite of the opposition of Orthodox theologians to the Roman dogma of the Immaculate Conception and their reservations regarding the new dogma of the Assumption of Mary-to the extent that this could imply that Mary did not die because of her Immaculate Conception-in spite of these differences, I say, which basically do not concern Mary herself but the doctrines of original sin and the Redemption (12), East and West vie with each other in extolling the virtues and grace of her "whom all generations shall call blessed."

The Redemption which God granted in Jesus Christ is available to us through the Church and by means of the Church: both the whole corporate and personal life of each Christian is thus determined by the historical fact of the death and resurrection of Christ. We share in this resurrection in Baptism and we "commemorate" it in the Eucharist. Finally, it determines our rule of prayer.

We mentioned above the very important part played by the liturgy in the life of the Orthodox Church, a living, dramafilled liturgy, which has served as a unique source of inspiration for theological thought and a last refuge for the faithful during particularly difficult periods, and has even revealed itself capable of keeping alive the essential truths of the Christian faith. Regardless of the age in which he lives or his status in life, when the Orthodox Christian enters a church he feels instinctively that he is in the presence of Heaven, that the Kingdom of God is already here; he knows that Christ is there in the spiritual communion of his Body and his Blood, in the Gospel read by the priest, and in the prayers of the Church.

This sacramental conception of the Christian life has been evident in Orthodox spirituality from the beginning and pervades it. Extreme tendencies toward an individualistic, personal form of piety all find themselves integrated in a coherent whole as a result of this conception, which does not regard personal forms of piety as something opposed to the corporate liturgy. This is especially true of Hesychasm, a mystical movement which goes back to the Desert Fathers and which has played such an important part in forming the spiritual tradition of the Christian East. It was actually in connection with the theological controversies over the question of Hesychasm in the fourteenth century that the Orthodox Church came to define its doctrine on grace and its conception of the relations between God and man. These doctrinal definitions therefore gave a permanent and lasting value to a spiritual tradition, whose methods and practical features, by contrast, are only of relative significance.

It was in the deserts of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt in the fourth century that we find the first Hesychasts (from the Greek hesychia, "solitude," "contemplation"), the first exponents of continual prayer. Alone with God in their solitary habitations, the Christian hermits saw in St. Paul 's commandment: "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. v.17) the most effective way for remaining in direct contact with the grace of Redemption. Some of them were accustomed to recite the Psalter in an endless round, thus inspiring the lectio continua of the Psalter in our liturgical offices. Others were devoted to a monologic or pure form of prayer consisting of the constant repetition of a short prayer stressing the Divine Name. Had not the Old Testament revealed that a more than ordinary significance was to be attached to the Divine Name? Did the Bible 'not teach that we must constantly "glorify the Name of the Lord" and did Christ not send his disciples to baptize people "In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit"? The perpetual invocation of God's Name was the most appropriate means for monks to communicate with the Divine. The form of monologic prayer often varied-sometimes it consisted of a simple Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy)-but the essence of the practice was the continual repetition of a set formula.

Occasionally, the earliest doctors of Hesychasm, and especially Evagrius of Pontus (fc. 400), a great ascetic who had studied Origen and NeoPlatonism, were inclined to envisage prayer as a means of dematerializing the self in order to attain to the world of the mind, as the "highest intellection of the intellect," as an ascension of "the immaterial toward the Immaterial." In part it was a question of mere terminology. The Greek Fathers were fond of expressing Christian truths in the language of the day and this language was permeated with the conceptions of Hellenism. But sometimes the Greek spirit also got the upper hand over Biblical doctrine, particularly in the matter of anthropology. The Bible never taught that man is a spirit imprisoned in matter, like Plato. The Word became flesh in order to save all mankind, the whole of mankind, and it should be the aim of Christian spirituality therefore to realize this salvation in its totality. Christian prayer, which Evagrius tended to conceive of as a kind of dematerialization and described without any reference to Christ, God incarnate, ought to bring the entire man face to face with God. Gradually these Origenist and Evagrian distortions were corrected by ecclesiastical tradition. A work by an anonymous author of the fifth century, who hid his true identity under the name of St. Macarius of Egypt, and many other works by spiritual writers of the time, were instrumental in bringing this about.

With St. Diadochus of Photice (fifth century) and St. John Climacus (fifth 650) the "intellectual" prayer of Evagrius has been transformed into the "prayer of Jesus." Jesus henceforth will be the Divine Name incessantly invoked by ascetics, and Christ, the God become man, will be regarded as the sole mediator between the created world and the Divine. Their prayer will no longer be a flight from matter but a communion with God in soul and body. The divine grace they will seek will transfigure both the soul and the flesh, regarded as bound together in the New Life and illuminated by the uncreated divine light.

"The Hesychast " wrote St. John Climacus in his Ladder of Paradise, "is he who strives to confine the Incorporeal into his bodily house . . . Let the remembrance of Jesus be present with each breath; then you will know the value of solitude" (13) . And St. Maximus the Confessor († 662) thus describes the deification which is sought by every Christian, and especially by every Hesychast : "Man becomes God by deification, thereby he experiences a complete abandonment of all that belongs to him by nature . . . because the grace of the Spirit triumphs in him and because God alone, manifestly, acts in him. Thus God, and those who are worthy of God, henceforth have only one and the same activity in all things" (14). The divine vision granted to mystics in deification was identified by St. Gregory of Nyssa (fourth century) and St. Maximus with the vision of Moses on Mount Sinai and with the divine light that was witnessed by the Apostles on Mount Tabor when Christ was transfigured.

Later spiritual writers will place even more emphasis upon the bond between the Prayer of Jesus, the mysticism of deification, and the sacramental life of the Christian community. St. Symeon the New Theologian, the great Byzantine mystic of the eleventh century, found the essential inspiration for his experience of the divine in the Eucharist: his hymns and prayers, both before and after Communion, are some of the most realistic and spiritually moving in the Byzantine Euchologion . In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the Hesychast revival coincided with a new interest at Byzantium in the sacramental life of the Church. The bestknown example of this tendency is Nicholas Cabasilas, whose Life in Christ -a comprehensive view of the spiritual life-is in the form of a commentary on the sacraments of Baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation), and the Holy Eucharist. Thus, the Orthodox Hesychasts of this period thought of the Prayer of Jesus not as a subjective and emotional way of communicating with God, but as a method by which they could make more effective, in themselves, the gifts received through the sacraments.

During this period also the practice of saying the Prayer of Jesus according to a particular method began to be widely followed. This consisted of repeating the words of the short prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me" in rhythm with one's breathing while at the same time concentrating the mind on the region of the heart, regarded as being the focal point for the whole psychophysiological nature of man.

Though attacked by Barlaam the Calabrian († 1350), a philosopher of both skeptical and Platonizing tendencies, the Hesychast method of prayer was defended in the fourteenth century by the great theologian and monk of Athos, who later became archbishop of Thessalonica, St. Gregory Palamas (†1359). It was the merit of Palamas to have seen clearly the connection between the Orthodox doctrine of God, the deification which the mystics sought to achieve in their mystical experiences, the Hesychast method of prayer, and the sacramental life of the Church. Without attempting to construct a doctrinal summa, he assigned to each one of these elements its proper place. God, essentially unsharable and transcendent, is also a living God who communicates Himself voluntarily through His acts: He thus becomes available not merely to knowledge, but sharable or communicable, because of the hypostatic union of divinity and humanity in Jesus Christ. Even then, however, He remains transcendent, since this is His nature: participation in His Being or deification is only possible to the extent that He wills it and in accordance with His energies or acts. This participation is total in Jesus Christ, since the Person of the Word incarnate is the source of all the divine operations. The distinction established here between transcendent essence and "energies" of course involves a philosophical antinomy, but is God subject to the limitations of our intellect? This "deification" in Jesus Christ is available to us through Baptism and the Eucharist: the Incarnate Word communicates to us the divine life and transforms our whole being from inside. Henceforth, "the Kingdom of God is within us." This "within us" does not signify necessarily "in the mind" or "in the soul," for human nature is indivisible and shares as a whole in God. Our body therefore, as well as our mind and soul, shares in this process through fasting, prayer, and various acts which make up the duties of the Christian in his search for the Kingdom of God, and it can also receive, as of now, the first fruits of glory: does the Church not venerate the corporal remains of the saints after their death, and during their life do the saints not perform miracles which attest the transfiguration already achieved? (15)

Finally, it is the special task of Eastern Orthodox spirituality to make known to us the presence of God in history, and to make this known not only in words but also by providing living examples of God's power. God is henceforth present in the Church not only in His written Word, but in the reality of the sacraments and in the gifts of the Spirit, evident in His saints, which are available likewise to all Christians who are determined to live in accordance with their baptismal promises. The saints of the Church-from St. Paul who was "raised to the third heaven" to St. Seraphim of Sarov whose face was illumined by a divine light- are all witnesses of this New Life granted to men which transfigures matter itself. Apostles, bishops, martyrs, missionaries, monks, or simple laymen: wherever God is pleased to find them, the saints are the true agents of the Kingdom of God in the world.

In the history of the Orthodox Church Hesychast mysticism has proved to be the most traditional way in which this communion with God, which constitutes the very essence of the Christian Me, has expressed itself. Because of its simplicity and uncomplicated nature the Prayer of Jesus became a very popular form of spiritual devotion and was widespread not only among the monks but also among the laity. Its precise definition by great theologians saved it from degenerating into a purely individualistic form of piety. Only in the Church, in the communion of saints, in the sacramental life of the Christian community, can the mystical experience of the individual have, in reality, a truly Christian meaning. Here also is found the ultimate criterion for all spirituality. The Church does not canonize any particular form or method of devotion, but merely sanctions the holiness of those who have been able to express the reality of the Kingdom of God in their lives and in their words.



(1) The best systematic account of this kind is still that by S. Bulgakov, The Orthodox Church ( London, 1935; 2 nd ed. New York, 1960).

(2) The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church ( Napierville, III, Allenson, 1957).

(3) This is what is meant by the term "negative theology" or " apophatic theology," the two greatest exponents of which in the East were St. Gregory of Nyssa and the anonymous author of the fifth century who hid his real identity under the pseudonym of Dionysius the Areopagite, the disciple of St. Paul at Athens .

(4) See our Study on Gregory Palamas (London, Faith Press, 1963), and Saint Gr é goire Palamas et la mystique orthodoxe, Coll. " Maitres Spirituels " (Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1959).

(5) St. Athanasius of Alexandria, The Incarnation of the Word, 54, PG 25.192 B.

(6) O. Clément, Transfigurer le temps.-Notes sur le temps a la lumière de la tradition orthodoxe (Paris, Neuchatel, 1959).

(7) See on this point T. de Regnon, Etudes de théologie positive sur la Sainte Trinite, Vol. I, p. 433; G. L. Prestige, God in Patristic Thought ( London, 1952), pp. 242 ff.

(8)The doctrine of the Filioque has been debated at two recent meetings of Catholic and Orthodox theologians; the minutes of the debates were published in the Eastern Churches Quarterly, Vol. VII (1948), Suppl . issue, and in Russie et Chretiente, Nos. 34 (1950).

(9) Mystagogia, 9, PG 102.289 A B; Sabellianism is a heresy dating from the second century attributed to a certain Sabellius who taught that the divine Persons are simply modes or "aspects" of a unique God.

(10) The Latin text, by translating the Greek eph'o as in quo, implies that "all have sinned in Adam." But this is impossible grammatically. The two possible translations would read: "Death passed to all men, from the fact that all have sinned"; or, "Death, on account of which all have sinned, has passed to all men." The latter version finds confirmation in several of the Greek Fathers. In the first case, St. Paul would be referring to the personal sins of men committed by them on their own responsibility and meriting punishment like that which Adam suffered; in the second case, mortality, transmitted to the whole race of Adam, would be the origin of their personal sins.

(11) "We declare . . . that the doctrine which holds that the most blessed Virgin Mary at the first instant of her conception by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in virtue or the merits of Christ Jesus, Savior of the human race, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin has been revealed by God . . ." (text in Denzinger, Enchtrtdum Sym bolorum, No. 1641).

(12) The Orthodox point of view in relation to these problems has been well stated by G. Florovsky and V. Lossky in the articles which they contributed to The Mother of God, ed. by E. L. Mascall (London, Dacre Press, 1949). For the doctrine of the Byzantine theologians, see our Study on Gregory Palamas .

(13) Ladder of Paradise, Twentyseventh Step, tr. by Lazarus Moore ( London, 1959), pp. 237. 246.

(14) Ambigua, PG 91.1076 B C. On St. Maximus, see P. Sherwood, The Early Ambigua of St. Maximus the Confessor ( Rome, 1955), and, by the same author, translation and commentary on works of Maximus, in Ancient Christian Writers, No. 21.

(15) We have examined the doctrine of Palamas in some detail in our Study on Gregory Palamas, and a more rapid sketch of the Hesychast tradition, both before and after the fourteenth century, may be found in Saint Gregoire Palamas et la mystique orthodoxe, Coll. " Maitres Spirituels,' No. 20 (Paris, 1959). The chief work of Palamas, his Triads for the Defense of the Holy Hesychasts, has been edited by us with a complete translation in French, in the series Specuegium Sacrum Lovaniense, Nos. 3031 ( Louvain, 1959), 2 vols.


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