DionysiosHe who has well looked upon his own proper condition with unbiassed eyes, will depart from the gloomy recesses of ignorance.

Being imperfect, he will not, of his own accord, at once desire the most perfect union and participation of God.

Little by little, he will be carried orderly and reverently through things present to things more forward, and through these to things foremost, and when perfected, to the supremely Divine summit.

[…] The Divine Blessedness receives the man, thus conducted, into communion with Itself, and imparts to him the proper light as a kind of sign, making him godly and sharer of the inheritance of the godly, and sacred ordering.

Of these things the Hierarch’s seal given to the proselyte and the saving enrolment of the priests are a sacred symbol, registering him amongst those who are being saved, and placing in the sacred memorials.

[…] Yet it is not possible to hold, conjointly, qualities thoroughly opposed, nor that a man who has had a certain fellowship with the One should have divided lives, if he clings to the firm participation in the One.

Rather, he must be resistless and resolute, as regards all separations from the uniform.

This the teaching of the symbols reverently and enigmatically intimates, by stripping the proselyte, as it were, of his former life, and discarding to the very utmost the habits within that life.

It makes him stand naked and barefoot, looking away towards the west, whilst he spurns, by the aversion of his hands, the participations in the gloomy baseness.

The proselyte breathes out, as it were, the habit of dissimilarity which he had acquired, and professes the entire renunciation of everything contrary to the Divine likeness.

When the man has thus become invincible and separate from evil, the teaching of the symbols turns him towards the east, declaring clearly that his position and recovery will be purely in the Divine Light, in the complete separation from baseness.

And it receives his sacred promises of entire consort with the One, since he has become uniform through love of the truth.

[…] Things intellectual acquire the unchangeableness of the Godlike habit, by continuous and persistent struggles towards one thing, and by the entire destruction and annihilation of  things contrary.

For it is necessary that a man should not only depart from every kind of baseness, but he must be also bravely obdurate and ever fearless against the baneful submission to it.

Nor must he, at any time, become remiss in his sacred love of the truth, but with all his power persistently and perpetually be elevated towards it, always religiously pursuing his upward course, to the more perfect mysteries of the Godhead.

Denys the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century): The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, 2,3.

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