Diadochus of Photiké: Through peace of soul we must make ourselves a dwelling-place for the Holy Spirit Sunday, May 29 2016 

diadochus-of-photikeOnly the Holy Spirit can purify the intellect, for unless a greater power comes and overthrows the despoiler, what he has taken captive will never be set free (cf Luke 11:21-22).

In every way, therefore, and especially through peace of soul, we must make ourselves a dwelling-place for the Holy Spirit.

Then we shall have the lamp of spiritual knowledge burning always within us;

and when it is shining constantly in the inner shrine of the soul, not only will the intellect (Greek: ὁ νοῦς)** [see footnote] perceive all the dark and bitter attacks of the demons, but these attacks will be greatly weakened when exposed for what they are by that glorious and holy light.

That is why the Apostle says: ‘Do not quench the Spirit’ (1 Thess. 5:19), meaning: ‘Do not grieve the goodness of the Holy Spirit by wicked actions or wicked thoughts, lest you be deprived of this protecting light.’

The Spirit, since He is eternal and life-creating, cannot be quenched; but if He is grieved – that is if He withdraws – He leaves the intellect without the light of spiritual knowledge, dark and full of gloom.

The loving and Holy Spirit of God teaches us, as we have said, that the perceptive faculty natural to our soul is single; indeed, even the five bodily senses differ from each other only because of the body’s varying needs.

But this single faculty of perception is split because of the dislocation which, as a result of Adam’s disobedience, takes place in the intellect through the modes in which the soul now operates.

Thus one side of the soul is carried away by the passionate part in man, and we are then captivated by the good things of this life, but the other side of the soul frequently delights in the activity of the intellect and, as a result, when we practice self-restraint, the intellect longs to pursue heavenly beauty.

If, therefore, we learn persistently to be detached from the good things of this world, we shall be able to unite the earthly appetite of the soul to its spiritual and intellectual aspiration, through the communion of the Holy Spirit who brings this about within us.

For unless His divinity actively illumines the inner shrine of our heart, we shall not be able to taste God’s goodness with the perceptive faculty undivided, that is, with unified aspiration.

Diadochus of Photiké (c.400-before 486): On Spiritual Perfection chs 28-29, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. I (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979).

**The translators of the Philokalia say the following about the word “intellect” as used in this passage from Diadochus and by other Greek authors: INTELLECT (nous): the highest faculty in man, through which – provided it is purified – he knows God or the inner essences or principles of created things by means of direct apprehension or spiritual perception. Unlike the dianoia or reason, from which it must be carefully distinguished, the intellect does not function by formulating abstract concepts and then arguing on this basis to a conclusion reached through deductive reasoning, but it understands divine truth by means of immediate experience, intuition or ‘simple cognition’ (the term used by St Isaac the Syrian). The intellect dwells in the ‘depths of the soul’; it constitutes the innermost aspect of the heart (St Diadochos). The intellect is the organ of contemplation, the ‘eye of the heart’ (Macarian Homilies).

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Diadochus of Photiké: Through peace of soul we must make ourselves a dwelling-place for the Holy Spirit Friday, Oct 23 2015 

diadochus-of-photikeOnly the Holy Spirit can purify the intellect (Greek: ὁ νοῦς)** [see footnote], for unless a greater power comes and overthrows the despoiler, what he has taken captive will never be set free (cf Luke 11:21-22).

In every way, therefore, and especially through peace of soul, we must make ourselves a dwelling-place for the Holy Spirit.

Then we shall have the lamp of spiritual knowledge burning always within us; and when it is shining constantly in the inner shrine of the soul, not only will the intellect perceive all the dark and bitter attacks of the demons, but these attacks will be greatly weakened when exposed for what they are by that glorious and holy light.

That is why the Apostle says: ‘Do not quench the Spirit’ (1 Thess. 5:19), meaning: ‘Do not grieve the goodness of the Holy Spirit by wicked actions or wicked thoughts, lest you be deprived of this protecting light.’

The Spirit, since He is eternal and life-creating, cannot be quenched; but if He is grieved – that is if He withdraws – He leaves the intellect without the light of spiritual knowledge, dark and full of gloom.

The loving and Holy Spirit of God teaches us, as we have said, that the perceptive faculty natural to our soul is single; indeed. even the five bodily senses differ from each other only because of the body’s varying needs. But this single faculty of perception is split because of the dislocation which, as a result of Adam’s disobedience, takes place in the intellect through the modes in which the soul now operates.

Thus one side of the soul is carried away by the passionate part in man, and we are then captivated by the good things of this life, but the other side of the soul frequently delights in the activity of the intellect and, as a result, when we practice self-restraint, the intellect longs to pursue heavenly beauty.

If, therefore, we learn persistently to be detached from the good things of this world, we shall be able to unite the earthly appetite of the soul to its spiritual and intellectual aspiration, through the communion of the Holy Spirit who brings this about within us.

For unless His divinity actively illumines the inner shrine of our heart, we shall not be able to taste God’s goodness with the perceptive faculty undivided, that is, with unified aspiration.

Diadochus of Photiké (c.400-before 486): On Spiritual Perfection chs 28-29, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. I (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979).

**The translators of the Philokalia say the following about the word “intellect” as used in this passage from Diadochus and by other Greek authors: INTELLECT (nous): the highest faculty in man, through which – provided it is purified – he knows God or the inner essences or principles of created things by means of direct apprehension or spiritual perception. Unlike the dianoia or reason, from which it must be carefully distinguished, the intellect does not function by formulating abstract concepts and then arguing on this basis to a conclusion reached through deductive reasoning, but it understands divine truth by means of immediate experience, intuition or ‘simple cognition’ (the term used by St Isaac the Syrian). The intellect dwells in the ‘depths of the soul’; it constitutes the innermost aspect of the heart (St Diadochos). The intellect is the organ of contemplation, the ‘eye of the heart’ (Macarian Homilies).

Diadochus of Photiké: Theology Embraces Our Intellect with the Light of a Transforming Fire Saturday, Aug 25 2012 

diadochus-of-photikeAll God’s gifts of grace are flawless and the source of everything good.

But the gift which inflames our heart and moves it to the love of His goodness more than any other is theology.

It is the early offspring of God’s grace and bestows on the soul the greatest gifts.

First of all, it leads us gladly to disregard all love of this life, since in the place of perishable desires we possess inexpressible riches, the oracles of God.

Then it embraces our intellect with the light of a transforming fire, and so makes it a partner of the angels in their liturgy.

Therefore, when we have been made ready, we begin to long sincerely for this gift of contemplative vision, for it is full of beauty, frees us from every worldly care, and nourishes the intellect with divine truth in the radiance of inexpressible light.

In brief, it is the gift which, through the help of the holy prophets, unites the deiform soul with God in unbreakable communion.

So, among men as among angels, divine theology – like one who conducts the wedding feast – brings into harmony the voices of those who praise God’s majesty.

Our intellect often finds it hard to endure praying because of the straightness and concentration which this involves. But it joyfully turns to theology because of the broad and unhampered scope of divine speculation.

Therefore, so as to keep the intellect from expressing itself too much in words or exalting itself unduly in its joy, we should spend most of our time in prayer, in singing psalms and reading the Holy Scriptures, yet without neglecting the speculations of wise men whose faith has been revealed in their writings.

In this way we shall prevent the intellect from confusing its own utterances with the utterances of grace, and stop it from being led astray by self-esteem and dispersed through over-elation and loquacity.

In the time of contemplation we must keep the intellect free of all fantasy and image, and so ensure that with almost all our thoughts we shed tears.

When it is at peace in times of stillness, and above all when it is gladdened by the sweetness of prayer, not only does it escape the faults we have mentioned, but it is more and more renewed in its swift and effortless understanding of divine truth, and with great humility it advances in its knowledge of discrimination.

There is, moreover, a prayer which is above even the broadest scope of speculation: but this prayer is granted only to those who fully and consciously perceive the plenitude of God’s grace within them.

Diadochus of Photiké (c.400-before 486): On Spiritual Perfection chs 67-68, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. I (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979).

Diadochus of Photiké: We Pray in the Spirit Who Teaches Us to Cry Without Ceasing “Abba, Father” Saturday, Jun 2 2012 

diadochus-of-photikeInitiatory joy is one thing, the joy of perfection is another. The first is not exempt from fantasy, while the second has the strength of humility.

Between the two joys comes a ‘godly sorrow’ (2 Cor. 7:10) and active tears; ‘For in much wisdom is much knowledge; and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow’ (Eccles. 1:18).

The soul…is first summoned to the struggle by the initiatory joy and then rebuked and tested by the truth of the Holy Spirit, as regards both its past sins and the vain distractions in which it still indulges.

[…] The soul is tested by divine rebuke as in a furnace, and through fervent remembrance of God it actively experiences the joy exempt from fantasy.

When the soul is disturbed by anger, confused by drunkenness, or sunk in deep depression, the intellect cannot hold fast to the remembrance of God no matter how hard we try to force it.

Completely darkened by the violence of the passions, it loses totally the form of perception which is proper to it.

Thus our desire that our intellect should keep the remembrance of God cannot make any impression, because the recollective faculty of our mind has been hardened by the rawness of the passions.

But, on the other hand, when the soul has attained freedom from these passions, then, even though the intellect is momentarily deprived by forgetfulness of the object of its longing, it at once resumes its proper activity.

The soul now has grace itself to share its meditation and to repeat with it the words ‘Lord Jesus’, just as a mother teaches her child to repeat with her the word ‘father’, instead of prattling in his usual way, until she has formed in him the habit of calling for his father even in his sleep.

This is why the Apostle says: ‘Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with cries that cannot be uttered’ (Rom. 8:26).

Since we are but children as regards perfection in the virtue of prayer, we have need of the Spirit’s aid so that all our thoughts may be concentrated and gladdened by His inexpressible sweetness, and so that with all our being we may aspire to the remembrance and love of our God and Father.

For, as St Paul says, it is in the Spirit that we pray when we are taught by Him to cry without ceasing to God the Father, ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8:15).

Diadochus of Photiké (c.400-before 486): On Spiritual Perfection chs 60-61, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. I (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979).

 

Diadochus of Photiké: Entirely Transformed by the Love of God Thursday, Feb 4 2010 

 

diadochus-of-photikeI knew someone who was sad that he could not love God as he would wanted, but who nevertheless loved God so much that his soul was always in the grip of desire for God, for God’s glory to manifest itself in him, for himself to be as nothing in comparison.

Such a person cannot be touched by verbal praise or convinced of his being, since his overwhelming humility means that he simply does not think about his own dignity or status.

He celebrates the liturgy as, according to the law, priests should; but his love of God blinds him to all awareness of his own dignity.

He buries any glory that might come his way in the depth of his love of God, so that he never sees himself as anything more than a useless servant: he is estranged, as it were, from a sense of his own dignity by his desire for lowliness.

This is the sort of thing we ought to do, to flee from any honour or glory that is offered us, for the sake of the immense riches of our love of God who has so loved us.

Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God. In fact, the measure of a man’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware he is of God’s love for him.

When this awareness is keen it makes whoever possesses it long to be enlightened by the divine light, and this longing is so intense that it seems to penetrate his very bones. He loses all consciousness of himself and is entirely transformed by the love of God.

Such a man lives in this life and at the same time does not live in it, for although he still inhabits his body, he is constantly leaving it in spirit because of the love that draws him toward God.

Once the love of God has released him from self-love, the flame of divine love never ceases to burn in his heart and he remains united to God by an irresistible longing.

As St Paul says: “If we are taken out of ourselves it is for the love of God; if we are brought back to our senses it is for your sake”.

Diadochus of Photiké (c.400-before 486): On Spiritual Perfection chs 12,13,14, taken from Office of Readings for Wednesday of Week 3 of Ordinary Time, at Universalis.


Diadochus of Photiké: “Do Not Extinguish The Spirit” Wednesday, Feb 3 2010 

 

diadochus-of-photikeThose who are struggling in battle ought always to keep their souls free of the tumultuous waves of distraction. If they do this, the mind will be able to distinguish among the thoughts that come to it.

The good thoughts, sent by God, they can store in the treasure-house of their memory. The evil thoughts, sent by the devil, they can throw out.

[…] Clearing and purifying the mind is the task of the Holy Spirit alone – just as when a house is being burgled, the spoils can only be recovered if a strong man bursts in and despoils the burglar.

Therefore we ought to keep our souls at peace so that the Holy Spirit is welcome there, so that the lamp of knowledge will always be lit – for when it is, the dark and bitter impulses of the devil will be easy to see and they will be reduced to creeping helplessness as they are caught in that holy and glorious light.

This is why St Paul says “Do not extinguish the Spirit” – that is, do not sadden the Holy Spirit with evil acts and thoughts, or his light may cease to protect you.

Of course the eternal and life-giving Spirit is not actually extinguished: rather, it is the sad turning away of the Spirit that leaves the mind wrapped in gloom and without the light of knowledge.

The mind has a perfect sense of taste that is able to discern and distinguish. When we are healthy, our body’s sense of taste can unerringly distinguish good from bad, so that we desire only what is good for us.

The same applies to our mind, as long as it is in perfect health and not disturbed by too many cares: it can very well perceive and desire the consolations that God offers.

Through the action of love, it has an unfading memory of their taste, and so it can always seek what is best. As St Paul says: “My prayer is that your love may increase and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception, so that you can always recognise what is best”.

Diadochus of Photiké (c.400-before 486): On Spiritual Perfection chs 6,26,27,30, taken from Office of Readings for Wednesday of Week 4 of Ordinary Time, at Universalis.