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Metropolitan Moses of Toronto
  Sunday of Saint Gregory Palamas
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In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Holy Fast is an archetype of the life of spiritual progress.


We crossed over into the arena of fasting by seeking mutual forgiveness, the first Sunday of the fast, we celebrated the triumph of Orthodoxy, true glory, true worship and the conciliar Tradition of the Church and the principle of the consensus of the Holy God-Bearing Fathers that enlightens our path to salvation. Without the true faith, our labors are in vain.


In fitting manner we progress to this Sunday wherein we celebrate the feast of our Holy Father among the saints, Gregory Palamas, who expounded the workings of Grace more than any other Church Father. Saint Gregory was a great man of prayer and was made manifest as a wonder-worker while still in his late twenties. This great saint of our Church was given a special grace to articulate his mystical experiences.


The following quote is from the life of Saint Gregory:


Another time, in a state of noetic prayer, Gregory fell into a light sleep. It appeared to him that in his hands was there was a vessel of pure milk,
so full that it was flowing over the brim. Then this milk took the form of wine, which flowed over the brim of the vessel onto his hands and clothes,
spreading abroad a wonderful fragrance. As soon as Gregory perceived it, he was filled with holy joy.


There appeared to him a radiant youth who said, “Why do you not pass on this wonderful drink, left by you without due attention. This
is the ever-inexhaustible gift from God.”


To whom should I pass on this drink when there is no on in need of it? asked Saint Gregory.

Even if at the present moment there is no one actually thirsting for the drink, answered the youth, yet, nevertheless, you should do your
duty and not neglect this gift of God. With the proper use of which, you will have to answer before God.
With these words the wondrous
vision came to an end.


Saint Gregory interpreted it in this way:
The milk meant the ordinary gift of the word, understandable to very simple hearts looking for spiritual instruction The turning of milk
in to wine meant that when the time comes, the Supreme-Will will ask him for deeper instructions of the sublime Christian Faith.


Thus, things that are beyond the mind of man, beyond the grasp of philosophical inquiry are imparted to us not by speculation, but by revelation granted to men of spiritual experience. Saint Gregory was illumined by God and defended the Orthodox doctrine on how we participate in God, how we become partakers of God’s uncreated energies, i.e., the holy truths of our Church regarding Theosis, or deification.


In the days of Saint Gregory one Barlaam of Calabria arrived in the parts of the east and spread his false teaching that God Himself does not unite with man, but that God creates a grace that He imparts to man. This is because in the parts of the west they were immersed more in the Greek philosophers than the Gospel and in their false reasoning they tried to force Christian revelation into Pagan Greek philosophical constructs that do not allow for God to directly commune with man.


Consistent with the God bearing Fathers, Saint Gregory explained for us that only non-being is without operation. All creatures have operation and activity. If one were to say that the operation or energy of the Holy Trinity was created then the logical conclusion is that the Holy Trinity is created (which is blasphemy). Uncreated nature has an uncreated energy.


God is completely distinct from His creation, that is, there is no similarity. God brought all things into being from nothing. God's mode of existence is completely incomprehensible, so it is not really appropriate to refer to God as the “Supreme Being” because, as the Holy Fathers teach, God is “Beyond Being.” We partake of life, but God is the Source of life for all of creation.


When we read in scripture of the glory of God, His illumination, a Divine light, etc. this refers to the uncreated grace of God that we are called to participate in. Saint Gregory cited our Savior's words,For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels (Luke 9: 26) and explained that the glory referred to here is the uncreated Energy of God (Divine Grace) that emanates from the Holy Trinity, of which both angels and men partake.


The Church teaches that God is completely transcendent and incommunicable in His essence, but we partake of and participate in His energies. The correct understanding of the distinction between the essence of God and His uncreated energies is one of the hallmarks of true Orthodox theology. The following words of Saint Peter,  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2Peter 1:3-4) are only rightly understood in the context of this distinction. In this context the words, partakers of the divine nature means partakers of the Uncreated Energies.


The Holy Scriptures are not subject to private interpretation and the terminology found therein is not properly understood without the guidance of the Church. Revelation is the experience of God knowledge, the written text of Scripture is Holy, but it is not revelation, it is about revelation. It is not the territory, it is a map of the territory. Without the proper guidance of the Holy Fathers one can misread the map and become lost from the true path, even though one is consulting the right map.


When one refers to Essence and Energy, both terms refer to Divinity. Thus, the Divine Essence is cause and the Divine Energy is effect and man truly communes with God by partaking of His Uncreated Energies.


Saint Basil the Great expressed this our quest to acquire the Grace of God's Uncreated Energies thus, The contest for virtue is the struggle for one to become God and a son by the illumination of the most pure light of that day which is uninterrupted by darkness. He that shines forth with the true light has made virtue as another sun, which having once shined upon us no longer hides itself in the west; but having clothed all things with its illuminating power, it grants an unceasing and perpetual light unto the worthy and makes into other suns those who partake of that light.


Saint Gregory also taught that we participate in the uncreated grace of God in both soul and body, thus overturning all of the spiritual error of the dualists, both ancient and modern.1The Church teaches that when God made man He made all things very good. It is sin, man’s misuse of free will that is the cause of everything wrong in creation. Thus Christ became the New Adam that we might be made new and become temples of the Holy Spirit. What is the significance of this spiritual truth?


Your body belongs to God.


The only variation on this is in Christian marriage, when the two become one flesh. The husband’s body belongs to the wife and the wife’s body belongs to the husband. For a man, every woman in the world is his sister, unless he gets married, then he has one wife. For a woman, every man in the world is a brother, unless she gets married, then she has one husband. God Himself has implanted the law of attraction and He has ordained that marriage has certain consolations that are to be reserved for marriage. This is the definition of chastity.


The Church is a spiritual hospital and has always offered the therapy of repentance to those who have fallen into sin. Our contemporary problem is that there are many who, with malicious intent, wish to change the law of God. They trivialize the body and the Christian concept of purity and want to remove marital relations from their proper context. For this reason we need to repeat to our youth again and again that popular culture has it all wrong. We are called to become temples of the living God and these things matter. The custom of sowing wild oats is a great spiritual error. Chastity is bodily purity and godliness. One who lives in chastity has good hopes to become a temple of the Living God, in Christ Jesus.


As Saint Peter so wisely put it in his introduction to his Second Catholic (universal) Epistle:


Grace and peace be multiplied unto you in the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us
all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who hath called us by glory and virtue; by which are given
unto us exceeding great and precious promises, so that through these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption
that is in the world through lust. And for this cause, by applying all diligence, add virtue to your faith, and to virtue, knowledge, and to nowledge,
 continence, and to continence, patience, and to patience, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly affection, and to brother affection, love.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they render you neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:2-8)


May we pay heed to these words and come to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ by participation in His Grace, to Whom be all glory, honor and worship, with His Unoriginate Father and All Holy Life Creating Spirit. So be it. Amen.


1Dualist doctrine claims that only the soul is good and worthy and the body is evil and that upon death the soul is liberated from the body and only then enters its true existence.