Today, I am continuing with the theme begun on the post, Not Exactly the Good News, about the campus preacher peaching an angry god instead of our God who is the great Lover of Mankind. We, along with St. Paul affirm that God shows the immeasurable riches of His grace and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. There are two basic theological affirmations the Eastern Orthodox make about grace:
- Grace is “of God” and remains such even when communicated to us.
- Grace is truly communicated to us and becomes, as it were, our nature. There is no way to work this out perfectly since we are dealing with a theological mystery.
St. Gregory Palamas, just to continue the mind blowing, said this in the 14th century:
“The divine nature must be said to be at the same time both exclusive of, and, in some sense, open to participation. We attain to participation in the divine nature, and yet at the same time it remains totally inaccessible. We need to affirm both at the same time and to preserve the antimony as a criterion of right devotion.”
Grace transforms our hearts and minds so that the light of God enlightens the darkness. The human person is one being in spirit, soul and body. The Holy Spirit penetrates all these aspects of us. We stay in our normal condition of life, but the light of God transforms us as we unite ourselves to Christ. Our participation in the Church, the body of Christ, and most especially in Baptism and the Eucharist, joins us to Christ. St. Symeon, the New Theologian, takes this doctrine quite literally: each believer becomes a member of Christ’s body and every part of our body becomes joined to Christ.
St. Symeon’s approach to our transformation because of the love of God is found in the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
What measureless compassion is yours, O Savior! How could you have deigned to join me to your Body, when I am unclean and a wastrel and a rake? How could you have clothed e with shining raiment, resplendent with the luster of immortality, and thus turn all my members into light? Your own body, immaculate and divine, is totally resplendent with the fire of your Godhead… All this you have given to me as well, O my God! For you have united this filthy and decaying tent to your own all-pure Body, and mingled my blood with your blood… I see the beauty, I behold the brightness, I reflect the light of your grace. I am astounded at the sight of this unspeakable brightness. I am in ecstasy at the thought of what I have become.