Jean Bies, Journey to the Holy Mountain

Jean Bies
From the book “Journey to the Holy Mountain”Chapter X Holy Orthodoxy (1) – The first evening meeting in a Turkish house”Imitation of the nature of God.”
Before describing the very meeting in the monastery, I would like to tell you about an interesting conversation that we had with Father Cyril. This conversation took place in the preceding days and chronologically and logically, as it were, announced the subsequent events.
Was it all in reality? Even before coming to the Lavra, I spoke with Father Cyril, and before that I had to go down to Mount Filoteu to collect my notes, which I accidentally left there. I easily found them there, in a small Turkish house, next to Mount Filotheu, which towered with graceful fragility over the surrounding buildings: my notes were lying on a bench, on the floor, mixed up by the wind, and I collected them, trying to lay out the sheets in order.
At the beginning of the conversation, after a few phrases of the greeting, a long silence reigned, in which some important revelations seemed to be slowly ripening, which were supposed to turn our too calmed and too modern consciousness. These were moments of “contemplation of nature,” which is a very important element of Orthodox mysticism, something close to Japanese practices. I would say that this is a contemplation of the logoi spermatikoi (“seed logos”), these intangible seeds contained within all creatures … Filled with these logoi, virgin nature reminds us of paradise purity. It is a vegetable remembrance of the earthly Paradise and the anticipation of Heaven’s Paradise: the earthly sanctuary containing the particle of the heavenly, the mysterious presence of the invisible in the visible. Contemplating on such evenings the beauty of St. Athos – “this tabernacle of the covenant, created without the help of human hands,” according to Palamas – we discovered the essential identity of cosmic manifestation and its Principle. Fathers say perfectly about this: “God wanted to discover his beauty and created matter.” The Greek text of Genesis also adds after each day of creation: “And God saw that it was good” (Kalon).
[…]
Father Cyril contemplated not so much these things themselves as their internal “flame” – the “watermarks”, katanyxis, their invisible spiritual substance, and at the same time his eyes, like the very spirit of Orthodoxy, were full of “sobriety,” nepsis. A pacified look directed at them to nature seemed to pacify her even more, brought her back to the source, not so much to the temporary source, as to the eternal and only Source beyond time.
Elder’s glance from under the half-closed eyelids barely noticeably slipped through these wild gardens and parks. He himself, with his pacified appearance, with his calmness, with his beard, seemed to us the embodiment of that spiritual Obviousness and inner certainty, which we, the people of the West, had long and hopelessly lost.
“What is Christianity, honorable father?” We asked him to begin the conversation.
Father Cyril crossed himself and began this way:
“Christianity, beloved brethren, is” imitating the nature of God, “as St. Gregory of Nyssa said beautifully … But you see, the brethren in Christ, before asking what Christianity is, you need to recreate the Christian way of thinking. Until you renounce university prejudices, reinforced by the thousand conventions of the profanity world, this “abomination of desolation” – bdelygma tes erenoseos – from constant criticism, pseudo-explanations, dialectics, systematic doubts, from philosophical anxiety leading only to suicide, you are not You can understand the essence of Christianity, which is on a super-rational level and uses the language of analogies and symbols … You are pretty students, but at the same time you are already victims of poisonous reasoning, contradictory arguments, nyaemyh theoretical constructs that lead to the beginning to the denial of God, and then to the denial of man, of his image. […] And you will comprehend in your heart what you can not comprehend by reason. Do not trust the historicist spirit of the people of the West, Dysis, both atheists and believers, because they want to see only historical “events” in everything and are only interested in the person of Jesus, forgetting about the eternal Christ and denying miracles and Resurrection in the flesh. Therefore, your churches are so fond of history, and then politics, and gradually, following this path, they come to secularization, to a loss of spirituality, to seclusion …
Such a beginning was promisingly unusual. Interested, curious, but at the same time with a sufficient degree of skepticism we asked Father Cyril to clarify his idea.
“Truth,” he continued, “they limited to a mere ‘fact’. ” The relative became absolute, and the absolute itself was simply discarded. Immediately, they invented the myth of the “sense of History”, the unlimited progress of species, which is surprisingly easy to refute, simply by looking at the ancient civilizations and analyzing the human soul. The blessed and glorified Holy Fathers were indifferent to the historical Christ the Savior, preferring to see in him the pre-temporal Logos, Eternal Sophia, Wisdom. His earthly life, his actions, his words – all these they interpreted as allegories … If you think about it, beloved brethren, you will begin to understand what it means to “imitate the nature of God.”Paradosis-Paradeisos
Then I intervened:
– Do not you think, dear elder, gheron, that the Church is sometimes forced, while remaining faithful to the essence of its message, to change some of its sides in accordance with the changes of the era or in order to better meet certain conditions?
The old man did not wait for an answer:
– Do you know why the Holy Orthodox Church enjoys such respect? Because She does not allow anyone to manipulate herself or exert influence on her … The church should not adapt to “innovations” that will become obsolete tomorrow and will be replaced by others. The Church should not go to meet us, but we the Church. And the Church does not need to strive for agreement with the spirit of the world, or to conform to it, since this spirit of the world is only a manifestation of the corrupting gloom … Why should the Church be subject to the limitations and philosophical, political, scientific temptations of this world, which is destined to disappear like autumn grass ?! She does not need to open herself to the world, because she, according to the Holy Fathers, is above the first of Creations. But he who enters the Church must leave this world and curse it at the threshold of the Temple, or not enter it at all if he refuses to repent and mortify his shamelessness, greed and pride … Take, for example, the so-called “social Justice” talk about which spread today on the world: it will remain a pure illusion until a person finds God in his heart … Any other understanding of justice is a pledge of decay and decomposition (as I translated the expression “he arche tes aposyntheseos “).
Father Cyril continued after a few moments:
– We are reproached for being too harsh, refusing concessions of time. But what leads to the easing in the fast? To their complete abolition. And the reduction of prayers? To the appearance of sacrilegious worship. And subordination to the age? The devastation of churches and the reduction of the priesthood. The more Western churches come up with new ways of attracting young people, the more they lose faith …
“Then what is the mission of the Church?”
– Pass the faith of ancestors and God-bearing fathers, whole and pure faith. Even if this is not liked by the powers and entails the persecution, in comparison with which the persecution in the Roman Empire will seem to be less than that. Orthodoxy is the fidelity of Tradition, Tradition clear as a crystal, Holy Tradition, sealed by God, not subject to changes – Paradosis lampotera krustallon, hagia, theosphragistos, akonotemetos. Orthodoxy is a perfect continuity without restraints or additions – mete meiosis mete auxesis – even a single word, even a single letter. The Holy and Rev. John Damascus said: “We do not abolish the eternal faces set by our fathers, and we preserve the tradition as we received it.” And the holy divine Mark of Ephesus: “No concessions with respect to our faith to do is impermissible.” So in the “clay vessels” – in the vessels of our beings, unworthy and sinful – we keep the treasure of the Faith whole and unchanged. “But my father, what is Tradition?” Could you say a few words about it? Tradition is a tradition, the transmission (Paradosis) of spiritual realities and the guarantee of the continuity of knowledge going from the beginning of the world, from paradise (Paseradeisos). This Tradition is the Faith given by the God-man, our Lord Jesus Christ to his apostles and taught by the Church to the generations and clans. Tradition is the great and ancient heritage of Bibilia. The formula of the Faith, the catholic ordinances, the patristic writings, the words that came from the most eminent lips, the canonical and doctrinal treatises, liturgical treasures, holy icons, the divine liturgy … – But you do not recognize the authority of all the Councils?
– The seven great and most holy Ecumenical Councils laid the clear foundations of the whole Church. We obey them with faith and piety. They clarified the norms of the Christological message of the Church, the mysteries of Christ, the true God and true Man, the absolute Unity of God, inseparable from no less than the absolute multiplicity of hypostases, the union in Christ of two natures, the motherhood of Mary, the “synergy” between divine grace and human effort, the transformation of matter into Spirit … The subsequent Councils did not add anything new, and only led to distortions or distortions of Truth, the source of life … The Seven First Councils, the first and last of which were held in Ephesus, prove the sex otu of Christ cycle. This week symbolizes the seven seals of the Spirit, the 7 columns of faith in the Word on which the Church, the One, the Holy, the Catholic and the Apostolic are based … So, what the Fathers said, we also say (hoi Pateres eipon Kai hemees legomen).
– However, not all Orthodox patriarchates unequivocally reject modern influences …
– Despite the annoying exceptions that owe their existence to the insufficient knowledge of doctrines and the lack of information, all Holy Orthodoxy refuses to collude with the falling away, apostasy, the modern world, with the kingdom of the Antichrist.
And Father Cyril minted this phrase, which for him was probably the deepest inner truth:
– The civilization of the Antichrist is nothing more than human dehumanization (ho politismos tou Antichristou estin he apanthropopoiesis tou anthropou).
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