Denys the Areopagite: Before Everything, and Especially Theology, We Must Begin with Prayer Sunday, Feb 16 2014 

DionysiosLet us examine the all-perfect Name of Goodness, which is indicative of the whole progressions of Almighty God.

But first let us invoke the supremely good, and super-good Triad – the Name which indicates Its whole best Providences.

For, we must first be raised up to It, as Source of good, by our prayers; and by a nearer approach to It, be initiated as to the all good gifts which are established around It.

For It is indeed present to all, but all are not present to It.

But then, when we have invoked It, by all pure prayers and unpolluted mind, and by our aptitude towards Divine Union, we also are present to It.

For, It is not in a place, so that It should be absent from a particular place, or should pass from one to another.

But even the statement that It is in all existing beings, falls short of Its infinitude (which is) above all, and embracing all.

Let us then elevate our very selves by our prayers to the higher ascent of the Divine and good rays.

For it is as if a luminous chain were suspended from the celestial heights, reaching down hither, and we, by ever clutching this upwards, first with one hand, and then with the other, seem indeed to draw it down.

But, in reality we do not draw it down, it being both above and below, but ourselves are carried upwards to the higher splendours of the luminous rays.

Or it is as if, after we have embarked on a ship, and are holding on to the cables reaching from some rock, such as are given out, as it were, for us to seize, we do not draw the rock to us, but ourselves, in fact, and the ship, to the rock.

Or to take another example, if any one standing on the ship pushes away the rock by the sea shore, he will do nothing to the stationary and unmoved rock, but he separates himself from it, and in proportion as he pushes that away, he is so far hurled from it.

Wherefore, before everything, and especially theology, we must begin with prayer, not as though we ourselves were drawing the power, which is everywhere and nowhere present, but as, by our godly reminiscences and invocations, conducting ourselves to, and making ourselves one with, it.

Denys the Areopagite (late 5th-early 6th century?): On the Divine Names 3, 1.

Denys the Areopagite: Sovereign Lord and Ancient of Days Thursday, Jan 23 2014 

DionysiosThe time is come to sing the God of many Names, as “Sovereign Lord,” and as “Ancient of days.”

For He is called the formerby reason that He is an all-controlling basis,

binding and embracing the whole, and establishing and supporting, and tightening, and completing the whole,

continuous in itself, and from itself, producing the whole, as it were from a Sovereign root, and turning to itself the whole, as to a sovereign parent stock,

and holding them together as an all-embracing basis of all, securing all the things embraced, within one grasp superior to all,

and not permitting them, when fallen from itself to be destroyed, as moved from an all-perfect sanctuary.

But the Godhead is called Sovereign, both as controlling and governing the members of His household, purely, and as being desired and beloved by all,

and as placing upon all the voluntary yokes, and the sweet pangs of the Divine and Sovereign, and in dissolvable love of the Goodness itself.

But Almighty God is celebrated as “Ancient of days” because He is of all things both Age and Time, and before Days, and before Age and Time.

And yet we must affirm that He is Time and Day, and appointed Time, and Age, in a sense befitting God, as being throughout every movement unchangeable and unmoved, and in His ever moving remaining in Himself, and as being Author of Age and Time and Days.

Wherefore, in the sacred Divine manifestations of the mystic visions, He is represented as both old and young;

the former indeed signifying the “Ancient” and being from the beginning, and the latter His never growing old; or both teaching that He advances through all things from beginning to end.

[…] The Oracles…do not always merely call all the things absolutely unoriginated and really everlasting, eternal, but also things imperishable and immortal and unchangeable.

[…] The Word of God says that even we, who are bounded here by time, shall partake of Eternity, when we have reached the Eternity which is imperishable and ever the same.

But sometimes eternity is celebrated in the Oracles, even as temporal, and time as eternal. … It is necessary then to suppose that things called eternal are not absolutely co-eternal with God, Who is before Eternity.

[…] But Almighty God we ought to celebrate, both as eternity and time, as Author of every time and eternity, and “Ancient of days,” as before time, and above time, and as changing appointed seasons and times;

and again as being before ages, in so far as He is both before eternity and above eternity and His kingdom, a kingdom of all the Ages. Amen.

Denys the Areopagite (late 5th-early 6th century?): On the Divine Names 10, 1-3.

Denys the Areopagite: Religiously Pursuing an Upward Course to the More Perfect Mysteries of the Godhead Monday, Nov 18 2013 

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.

Denys the Areopagite: The Divine Justice – Preservation and Redemption Tuesday, Nov 5 2013 

DionysiosIf those whom you call pious do indeed love things on earth, which are zealously sought after by the earthly, they have altogether fallen from the Divine Love.

And I do not know how they could be called pious, when they unjustly treat things truly loveable and divine, which do not at once surpass in influence in their estimation things undesirable and unloveable.

But, if they love the realities, they who desire certain things ought to rejoice when they attain the things desired.

Are they not then nearer the angelic virtues, when, as far as possible, by aspiration after things Divine, they withdraw from the affection for earthly things, by being exercised very manfully to this, in their perils, on behalf of the beautiful?

So that, it is true  to say, that this is rather a property of the Divine Justice – not to pamper and destroy the bravery of the best, by the gifts of earthly things, nor, if any one should attempt to do this, to leave them without assistance, but to establish them in the excellent and harsh condition, and to dispense to them, as being such, things meet for them.

This Divine Justice, then, is celebrated also even as preservation of the whole, as preserving and guarding the essence and order of each, distinct and pure from the rest; and as being genuine cause of each minding its own business in the whole.

But, if any one should also celebrate this preservation, as rescuing savingly the whole from the worse, we will entirely accept this as the cantique of the manifold preservation.

[…] Without missing the mark of the sacred theology, one might celebrate this preservation as redeeming all things existing, by the goodness which is preservative of all, from falling away from their own proper goods, so far as the nature of each of those who are being preserved admits.

Therefore also the Theologians name it redemption, both so far as it does not permit things really being to fall away to non-existence, and so far as, if anything should have been led astray to discord and disorder, and should suffer any diminution of the perfection of its own proper goods, even this it redeems from passion and listlessness and loss.

Redemption supplies what is deficient, paternally overlooking the slackness, and raising up from evil; yea, rather, establishing in the good, and filling up the leaking good, and arranging and adorning its disorder and deformity, and making it complete, and liberating it from all its blemishes.

Denys the Areopagite (late 5th-early 6th century?): On the Divine Names 8, 8-9.

Denys the Areopagite: God, Being Compassionate, Deigned to Come to Us with Outstretched Arms Friday, Oct 11 2013 

DionysiosThe Hierarch, then, wishing that all men whatsoever should be saved by their assimilation towards God, and come to recognition of truth, proclaims to all the veritable Good News:

that God, being compassionate towards those upon earth, out of His own proper and innate goodness, deigned Himself to come to us with outstretched arms, by reason of loving-kindness towards men;

and, by the union with Him, to assimilate, like as by fire, things that have been made one, in proportion to their aptitude for deification.

“For as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become children of God to those who believe on His Name, who were begotten, not of bloods, nor of will of flesh, but of God” (John 1:12).

He, who has felt a religious longing to participate in these truly supermundane gifts, comes to some one of the initiated, and persuades him to act as his conductor to the Hierarch.

He then professes wholly to follow the teaching that shall be given to him, and prays him to undertake the superintendence of his introduction, and of all his after life.

Now he, though religiously longing for his salvation, when he measures human infirmity against the loftiness of the undertaking, is suddenly seized with a shivering and sense of incapacity, nevertheless, at last, he agrees, with a good grace, to do what is requested, and takes and leads him to the chief Hierarch.

He, then, when with joy he has received, as the sheep upon his shoulders, the two men, and has first worshipped, glorifies with a mental thanksgiving and bodily prostration the One beneficent Source, from Which, those who are being called, are called, and those who are being saved, are saved.

Then collecting a full religious assembly into the sacred place, for co-operation, and common rejoicing over the man’s salvation, and for thanksgiving for the Divine Goodness, he first chants a certain hymn, found in the Oracles, accompanied by the whole body of the Church; and after this, when he has kissed the holy table, he advances to the man before him, and demands of him, what has brought him here?

When the man, out of love to God, has confessed, according to the instruction of his sponsor, his ungodliness, his ignorance of the really beautiful, his insufficiency for the life in God, and prays, through his holy mediation, to attain to God and Divine things, he (the Hierarch) testifies to him, that his approach ought to be entire, as to God Who is All Perfect, and without blemish.

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

Denys the Areopagite: Looking Upwards to the Blessed and Supremely Divine Self of Jesus Friday, Oct 4 2013 

DionysiosWe must, then, most pious of pious sons, demonstrate from the supermundane and most sacred oracles and traditions,

that ours is a hierarchy of the inspired and divine and deifying science, and of operation, and of consecration,

for those who have been initiated with the initiation of the sacred revelation derived from the hierarchical mysteries.

See, however, that you do not put to scorn things most holy (Holy of Holies);

but rather treat them reverently, and you will honour the things of the hidden God by intellectual and obscure researches,

carefully guarding them from the participation and defilement of the uninitiated,

and reverently sharing holy things with the holy alone, by a holy enlightenment.

For thus, as the Word of God has taught us who feast at His Banquet, even Jesus Himself

– Who is the most supremely divine Mind and superessential,

Who is the Source and Essence, and most supremely Divine Power of every hierarchy and sanctification and divine operation

– illuminates the blessed beings who are superior to us, in a manner more clear, and at the same time more intellectual,

and assimilates them to His own Light, as far as possible;

and by our love of things beautiful elevated to Him, and which elevates us, folds together our many diversities,

and after perfecting into a uniform and divine life and habit and operation, holily bequeaths the power of the divine priesthood;

from which by approaching to the holy exercise of the priestly office, we ourselves become nearer to the beings above us,

by assimilation, according to our power, to their abiding and unchangeable holy steadfastness;

and thus by looking upwards to the blessed and supremely divine self of Jesus,

and reverently gazing upon whatever we are permitted to see,

and illuminated with the knowledge of the visions,

we shall be able to become, as regards the science of divine mysteries, purified and purifiers;

images of Light, and workers, with God, perfected and perfecting.

Denys the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century): The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, 1.