Ignatius IV on the Holy Spirit  

Posted by Joe Rawls

Patriarch Ignatius IV, leader of the Antiochian Orthodox Church from 1979 until his repose in 2012, was born in Syria in 1920 as Habib Hazim.  He was educated in his native country and graduated from the Institute St Serge in Paris.  Below follows a brief but profound meditation on the Holy Spirit.  Hat-tip to the always stimulating Eclectic Orthodoxy site.


Without the Holy Spirit
God is far away,
Christ stays in the past,
the Gospel is a dead letter,
the Church is simply an organization,
authority a matter of dominion,
mission a matter of propaganda,
the Liturgy no more than an evocation,
Christian living a slave morality.

But in the Holy Spirit
the cosmos is resurrected and
grows with the birth pangs of the Kingdom,
the Risen Christ is there,
the Gospel is the power of life,
the Church shows forth the life of the Trinity,
authority is a liberating service,
mission a Pentecost,
the Liturgy both memorial and anticipation,
human action is deified.

Pope Francis on the Desert Fathers  

Posted by Joe Rawls

During his recent visit to Egypt, Pope Francis addressed an assembly of Roman Catholic priests and religious stationed in that country.  His talk was focused on seven temptations facing religious and how a knowledge of the Desert Fathers is relevant to their struggles.  The complete article appears in the website Aletheia (aletheia.org/2017/04/29/look-to-the-desert......./).


1.  The temptation to let ourselves be led, rather than to lead.

2.  The temptation to complain constantly.

3.  The temptation to gossip and envy.

4.  The temptation to compare ourselves to others.

5.  The temptation to become like Pharaoh.

6.  The temptation to individualism.

The temptation to keep walking without direction or destination.

Leo the Great on the Annunciation  

Posted by Joe Rawls

From a letter of Pope Leo I  Epist 28 ad Flavianum, PL 54, 763-767

Lowliness is assured by majesty, weakness by power, mortality by eternity.  To pay the debt of our sinsul state, a nature that is incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer.  Thus, in keeping with the healing that we needed, one and the same mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ was able to die in one nature, and unable to die in the other.

He who is true God was therefore born in the complete and perfect nature of a true man, whole in his own nature, whole in ours.  By our nature we mean what the Creator had fashioned in us from the beginning, and took to himself in order to restore it.

He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity.  He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself visible, though Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men.  Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence.  So he who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.

He was born in a new condition, for, invisible in his own nature, he became visible in ours.  Beyond our grasp, he chose to come within our grasp.  Existing before time began, he began to exist in a moment in time.  Lord of the universe, he hid his infinite glory and took the nature of a servant.  Incapable of suffering as God, he did not refuse to be a man, capable of suffering.  Immortal, he chose to be subject to the laws of death.

Gregory of Nyssa on Eucharistic Presence  

Posted by Joe Rawls

Today's commemoration of Gregory of Nyssa brings a quote from his Great Catechism (ca 383).  It talks about the fact that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist, but in typical Orthodox fashion, it does not greatly elaborate the manner in which this happens.  The translation used is found in The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol 2, WA Jurgens ed, The Liturgical Press 1979, p 49


Since it has been shown that it is not possible for our body to become immortal except it be made participant in incorruption through communion with the Immortal, it is necessary to consider how it is possible for that One Body, though distributed always to so many myriads of the faithful throughout the world, to be whole in its apportionment to each individual, while yet it remains whole in itself...This Body, by the indwelling of God the Word, has been made over to divine dignity.  Rightly then, do we believe that the bread consecrated by the word of God has been made over into the Body of God the Word.  For that Body was, as to its potency, bread; but it has been consecrated by the lodging there of the Word, who pitched His tent in the flesh.  From the same cause, therefore, by which the bread that was made over into that Body is made to change into divine strength, a similar result now takes place.  As in the former case, in which the grace of the Word made holy that body the substance of which is from bread, and in a certain manner is itself bread, so in this case too, the bread, as the Apostle says, "is consecrated by God's word and by prayer"; not through its being eaten does it advance to become the Body of the Word, but it is made over immediately into the Body by means of the word, just as was stated by the Word, "This is My Body!"...In the plan of His grace He spreads Himself to every believer by means of that Flesh, the substance of which is from wine and bread, blending Himself with the bodies of believers, so that by this union with the Immortal, man, too, may become a participant in incorruption.  These things He bestows through the power of the blessing which transforms the nature of the visible things to that of the Immortal.

Martin Thornton and Anglican Ressourcement  

Posted by Joe Rawls

Fr Matthew Dallman is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Springfield (USA).  He heads up Akenside Press, an imprint devoted to Anglicanism's Catholic heritage.  Particular emphasis is placed on the writings of Martin Thornton (1915-1986), a priest of the Church of England  perhaps best known for English Spirituality.  Thornton's writings can be considered a ressourcement, a return to the Catholic wellsprings of Anglican theology and spirituality.  Dallman has condensed these sources into a very useful diagram reproduced above.  Below can be found some explanatory material on the chart taken from the Akenside website.


I would propose that Martin Thornton has given Anglicanism a permanent gift, which is his book, English Spirituality. This book is already well-loved and appreciated in Anglicanism, certainly in the United States. It is the go-to book to discuss ascetical theology and is a resource for pastoral theology. But I would argue that neither application exhausts the book’s gift. No, its true significance is more profound: it is nothing less than a thorough map of Anglican theology in its lineage, prepared for ressourcement. That is to say, from Thornton, we have a clear sense of what the core curriculum of renewal is, and should be, for Anglican theology. His might be the very first instance that the contours of our school of theology have been thoroughly and concisely articulated.
Thornton never used the term ressourcement, but I doubt he would disagree strongly with this analysis of his work. (My  master’s thesis is on his corpus.) In any event, all are advised to pull out their copy of English Spirituality and give it serious attention in this new light. I will not rehearse here the extended argument that Thornton makes, because it is nuanced and does require participation in Anglican liturgical and sacramental life to fully appreciate (as any school would require).