Sunday, April 17, 2011

Happy Palm Sunday 2011!

Happy Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion 2011! May the Lord make this a great Holy Week for all. Thank you, Lord Jesus, King of the Universe, for by Your Precious Blood You have redeemed the world! Dear readers, pray for me, a sinner. I pray that you all experience an abundance of God's grace and a growth of communion with Him on this day and all the days to come, that the merciful God will bring you to the top of the Ladder of Divine Ascent! Amen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The 21 Ecumenical Councils

1 - Nicaea I (325)
-Hefele 1.1:335–632
-president was Bishop St. Hosius the Confessor of Cordoba, who was assisted by the papal legates Priests Victor and Vincent of Rome [Henri Leclercq]
-318 bishops [Henri Leclercq]
-"Cecilian of Carthage [311-325], Mark of Calabria, Nicasius of Dijon, [and] Donnus of Stridon in Pannonia" were the only other Roman Catholic bishops present [Henri Leclercq]
-20 canons [Hefele 1.2:528–620]

Monday, April 11, 2011

Old Rome, Not New Rome 1

This is version 3.0 (2011) of part 1 of "Why God Led Me to Rome Instead of Constantinople." May God bless you with ever-growing communion with Him and may He bless you and yours with everlasting life. May He make use of this sinner to win people over to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church by holiness of life and sound arguments from Sacred Scripture and Tradition and right reason. May God grant this sinner the strength to show, in these posts, that Catholicism, and not Eastern Orthodoxy, is the only true and saving faith, and that the Catholic Church is the bearer of the Four Marks of the Church. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Since the Eastern Orthodox Church does not have an infallible magisterium,{1} it has been unable to definitively solve issues such as the following{2}: the procession of the Holy Spirit; the nature of the primacy of the Pope; the validity of Catholic Baptism; the canon of Sacred Scripture; whether there is a real distinction in God between His essence and energy; the form of the Eucharist; the immediacy of retribution; Purgatory; and other issues.

Notes to Preface
{1} Fr. Martin Jugie, A.A. (†1954), Theologia dogmatica Christianorum orientalium ab Ecclesia Catholica dissidentium IV:525-529.
{2} Op. cit., 538-539.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Dear readers, pray for me and forgive me for misleading you by my errors of scholarship.

Nicephorus the Hesychast of Mt. Athos (†1300)
I don't think the anti-Catholic monk Nicephorus the Hesychast (†1300?), an Italian who converted from Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy and was famous for his anti-union activities in the wake of the 14th Ecumenical Council (Lyons II in 1274), is the "Our Venerable Father Nicephor, Hegumen of the Medikion Monastery (14th Century)" for May 5 of the "official calendar of saints and commemorations for the Byzantine Ruthenian Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh is taken from The Divine Liturgy of our Holy Father John Chrysostom (2006)." The calendar seems to list the wrong century; Nicephorus the Hesychast was an Athonite, whereas there is a St. Nicephorus of the Medikion Monastery, which is in Bithynia and not Athos, who reposed in the 815. On this St. Nicephorus see the Acta Sanctorum for May 4 from the year 1680: 5:I:500-501E (628-629). St. Gregory Palamas praised Nicephorus the Hesychast for his anti-Catholicism, yet Josyf Cardinal Slipyj must have led the Magisterium to moral certainty that Palamas died a Catholic, thought it seems that Slipyj's specific arguments are not a matter of public knowledge (though Fr. Serge Keleher of Dublin might know). Here is a rough translation of what Palamas says in Triads II:2:2, from the French translation of Fr. John Meyendorff, p. 320: "Nicephorus who confessed the true faith and therefore was condemned to banishment by the first emperor Palaeologus who adopted the thinking of the Latins, Nicephorus was of Italian origin, but acknowledged the heresy of these people, so he joined our Orthodox Church, and with the customs of his fathers, he rejects their heritage and prefers our empire to his own country..."

Did Photius die in communion with the Holy See? Previously I answered with a resounding yes, and I hope this is the case. Yet I can't really be enthusiastic about Photius anymore, in light of the observations of Fr. Venance Grumel, A.A. of happy memory in "New Light on the Photian Schism," Unitas 5 (1953), 147-148.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Did Photius die in communion with the Holy See?

Mirror link

Hail Joseph the just, Wisdom is with you; blessed are you among all men and blessed is Jesus, the fruit of Mary, your faithful spouse. Holy Joseph, worthy foster-father of Jesus Christ, pray for us sinners and obtain divine Wisdom for us from God, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. -- St. Louis de Montfort


Note: Photius is a "saint" of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church; see February Menaion (Diocese of Newton: Sophia Press, 2000), 69-84 <>.

Previously I answered with a resounding yes, and I hope this is the case. Yet I can't really be enthusiastic about Photius anymore, in light of the following observations of Fr. Venance Grumel, A.A. of happy memory in "New Light on the Photian Schism," Unitas 5 (1953), 147-148.

Did Photius die in communion with the Holy See?
The most striking result of this recent research on the Photian question is the disappearance of the presumed second Photian schism. For many people this conclusion takes the concrete form: Photius died in communion with the Holy See. Is the conclusion justified? To respond we must avoid hasty conclusions, and distinguish between the position in the eyes of the law and the conduct or personal conscience of the deposed patriarch.

We cannot pass over in silence the fact that the Council of 869 was omitted from official lists of ecumenical councils, even in the West, until the second half of the eleventh century. Dvornik has established this with great erudition, and concludes that this silence is equivalent to the annulment of the Council. But we claim that it is more reasonable to suppose that since the Council concerned itself only with a personal issue and not with any question of dogma there was no great reason for emphasizing its importance at the time, and that also it seemed diplomatic in the West to remain silent after the Photian affair was settled in 899.

If it is a question of the position of Photius in the eyes of the law, all that we can say is that Photius died in communion with the Church of Byzantium. If this was in communion with Rome at the time, the former patriarch died in communion with Rome; if it was in schism, he died in schism. We are faced with two uncertainties here—the date of Photius's death and the situation of the two Churches from the time of Formosus until the reunion council held under John IX in 899. We cannot give a reply to the main question until we can answer these two.

In regard to the personal attitude and the conscience of the ex-patriarch we are on even more difficult ground. Photius composed his two principal works against the doctrine of the Filioque after his re-establishment as patriarch under John VIII, his letter to the Archbishop of Aquilea and his Mystagoge. He was not manifesting a desire for reconciliation, and he even avoids the expression through the Son, used by the Second Council of Nicaea and current among the Greek Fathers. Would this latter have embarrassed him just as later it was to embarrass the adversaries of Johannes Beccos?

What of the genuine attitude of Photius towards the Roman Church? It is argued that he had different attitudes, and many of them, not so much against the Roman Church as against those who headed it. He spurned St. Nicholas I, he admired John VIII and Adrian III; the one had eyed him with disfavor, the other two with forgiveness. He measured the merit of those who occupied the Apostolic See by their treatment of himself. With this in mind we conclude that the question: "Did Photius die a Catholic?" is a strange one. We are even more fully convinced that in seeking a patron for works of Unity, we should not pause to consider the possibility of choosing Photius, as some others would suggest (19).

(19) Fr. Dvornik, "Photius, père du schisme ou apôtre de l’union" in Vie intellectuelle, Dec. 1945, pp. 16-28.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Heretical and schismatic false martyrs (Fr. René Hedde, O.P.)

Whether a non-Catholic can be a martyr?
Answer: In the negative.

"The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church" -- Pope Eugene IV at the Ecumenical Council of Florence, Bull "Cantate Domino"

"No Christian shall forsake the martyrs of Christ, and turn to false martyrs, that is, to those of the heretics, or those who formerly were heretics; for they are aliens from God. Let those who go after them be anathema." -- Local Council of Laodicea, Canon 34 (363)

This is a very rough translation of a section of the article "Martyre" by Fr. René Hedde, O.P. in the 1928 Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 10.1:233.

9. Heretical and schismatic false martyrs (c. XX). – We can distinguish two cases, one in which the heretic dies to defend his heresy, or one in which he dies for a doctrine common with the true faith.

The second case is more interesting, but even then the victim will not be considered a martyr, for, says Benedict XIV, though he died for the truth, he did not die for the truth given by faith, since he has no faith. At the same time he admitted in a heretic who denies a point of faith, a supernatural habitus, but informed by faith; this view is widely rejected by theologians. He who has no faith, cannot die for the faith. Benedict XIV then speaks of the heretic invincibiliter, that is to say, of he who is in his error "in good faith" and if he dies for a true point [article] of faith, can he regarded as a martyr? Benedict XIV responds with an important distinction: he will be coram Deo, but not coram Ecclesia. He will be coram Deo, provided he is habitually disposed to believe anything that would be proposed by the legitimate authority, because he is not culpable according to the word of St. John: "Si non venissem et locutus fuissem eis, peccatum non haberent," XV, 22; he would not be a martyr coram Ecclesia, which judges from the outside, and which, noting his external heresy, is reduced to speculate his internal heresy. We see how this distinction proposed by the eminent canon lawyer can give satisfaction to the most difficult [questions]. But once it is admissible to recognize as a martyr coram Deo the heretic invincibiliter who dies to defend a doctrine common with Catholic truth, does she not need to recognize him even if he dies with the same sincerity to defend an erroneous assertion that he believes belong to the Christian Credo? We see from these examples how the concept of martyrdom that, at first sight, seems very clear and sharply defined, in reality poses many questions that are difficult to answer with certainty.

Editor's Comment on the Above:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Post-Schism Orthodox Saints (Bollandists)

I hope everyone's Lent is going well! Pray for me, a sinner.

Click here for an incomplete catalog of freely downloadable volumes of the Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists.

Regarding the Holy Fathers of the Kiev Caves (cf. 10:XI:209 [245]) and their loyalty to Rome, and concerning Catholic veneration of post-schism Orthodox saints, see the Bollandists' learned comments in the following volumes (from authors like Frs. Ivan Martynov and Daniel Papebroch of pious memory, etc; the format is Month, Tome, Page, PDF file page # from Documenta Catholica Omnia):
*10:X:863-883 (891-911)
*10:XI:i-vii (30-37), 27 (63)

Eastern Catholics celebrate "the Synaxis of the Venerable Fathers of the Monastery of the Caves" on August 28 and/or September 28.

See also the venerable Fr. John Stilting, S.J.'s "Dissertation on the Conversion and Faith of the Russians," which talks about which Metropolitans of Kiev were Catholic and which ones were Orthodox: Acta Sanctorum 9:II:i-xxvii (25-51). Fr. Stilting, in the same volume, talks about Sts. Boris and Gleb on pp. 633-639 (741-747), and annotates their "Acts" on pp. 639-644 (747-752).

The Bollandists explicitly list the following as "Saints" (I'll include more after I get my homework done) in the columns next to their biographical entries, or as saints/blessed in their biographical entries themselves, in Acta Sanctorum, October, t. XI:

11th century
*St. Abraham of Rostov (October 29) [†1073]: 10:XI:265 (301); 10:XIII:36-51 (104-119), 926-927 (994-995)
*St. Agapetus of the Kiev Near Caves (June 1) [†1095]: 6:I:135 (221); 10:XI:144 (180)
*St. Anthony of the Kiev Far Caves (July 10) [983-1073]: 7:III:3 (53); 10:XI:174 (210)
*Sts. Damian [†1071], Jeremiah [†1070], and Matthew the Clairvoyant [†1085] of the Kiev Caves (October 5): 10:XI:242 (278)
*St. Eustratius the Martyr of the Kiev Near Caves (March 28) [†1096]: 10:XI:99 (135)
Editor: Not under AASS March 28 in 3:III:709-711D (759-761) from the year 1668.
*Bishop St. Isaiah the Wonderworker of Rostov (May 15) [†1090]: 10:XI:129 (165)
Editor: St. Isaiah not under AASS for May 15 from the year 1680 in 5:III:438-441 (532-535).
*Bishop St. Leontius the Wonderworker of Rostov (May 23) [†1073]: 10:XI:137-138 (173-174)
Editor: Not under AASS May 23: 5:V:233-235 (475-477) from year 1685.
*Abbot St. Nikon of the Kiev Far Caves (March 23) [†1088]: 10:XI:96 (132)
Editor: Not under AASS March 23 in 3:III:440-442 (490-492) from the year 1668.
*St. Parasceva Petca the New of Tarnovo (October 14) [†11th. c.]: 10:VI:62(90),66(94),68(96); 10:XI:246-247 (282-283)
*Philothea of Tarnovo (December 7) [†1060], "whose relics are in Arges, Romania": 10:XI:301-302 (337-338)
*St. Stephen, abbot of the Kiev Caves and Bishop of Vladimir in Volhynia (April 27) [†4/27/1094]: 10:X:875A (893), 880B (908), 883A (911); 10:XI:116 (152)
Editor: Not under AASS April 27 in 4:III:473C-475F (511-513) from the year 1675, and not listed as saint (with †) in 10:X:956 (984) from year 1861.
*Sts. Theodore and Basil the Martyrs of the Kiev Near Caves (August 11) [†1098]: 8:II:607C (635); 10:XI:198 (234)
*St. Theodosius of the Kiev Far Caves (May 3) [†1074]: 5:I:360 (486); 10:XI:121-122 (157-158), 200-201 (236-237)
Editor: On the loyalty of St. Theodosius of the Kiev Far Caves to the Apostolic See, consult 10:X:880E (908), from the year 1861. Fr. Mauricio Gordillo, S.J. of happy memory says in the 1938 DTC 14.1:218: St. Theodosius Pechersky did not write against the Latins because he "remained faithful to Iziaslav when he displayed his Catholic faith by sending his son Yaropolk to implore the aid of Pope Gregory VII in Rome and put Russia under the protection of Saint Peter."

12th century
*St. Anastasius the Monk-Martyr of the Kiev Near Caves (January 22) [†late 12th century]: 10:XI:50 (86)
Editor: Not under AASS for January 22, from the year 1643: 1:II:388-389 (418-419).
*Anthony the Roman of Novgorod (August 3) [1067-1147]: 10:XI:46 (82), 193 (229)
Editor: Abbot Anthony, whom Orthodox hagiographers portray as fleeing persecutions of Roman Catholics, is not under AASS August 3 in 8:I:196-198 (498-500) from the year 1733. On Anthony being Catholic, see Fr. Joseph Koncevicius, Russia's Attitude Towards Union with Rome (9th-16th Centuries) (Cleveland, OH: John T. Zubal, Inc. Publishers and Booksellers, 1983), 48.
*St. Arethas of the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves (October 24) [†1190]: 10:X:xi (13), 863-877 (891-905); 10:XI:259-260 (295-296)
*King David III of Georgia (January 26) [1089-1125]: 10:XI:53-54 (89-90)
Editor: Not under AASS January 26 in 1:II:690-691 (720-731) from the year 1643.
*Dionysius of Kiev (June 26) [†1182]: 6:V:246-247 (462-463)
*St. Erasmus of the Kiev Near Caves (February 24) [†1160]: 10:X:866D (894), 874D (902); 10:XI:79-80 (115-116)
Editor: Not under AASS February 24 in 2:III:428-430F (466-468) from the year 1658, and not listed as saint (with †) in 10:X:933 (961) from year 1861.
*St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk (May 23) [†1173]: 5:V:234 (476); 10:XI:138 (174), 244 (280)
*Bishop Hilarion of Meglin, Bulgaria (October 21) [†1164]: 10:IX:405-408 (447-450); 10:XI:253-257 (289-293)
*St. John the Long-Suffering of the Kiev Near Caves (July 18) [†1160]: 7:IV:346F-347A (530-531); 10:XI:181 (217)
*Archbishop John of Novgorod (September 7) [†1186]: 10:XI:219 (255)
Editor: Not under AASS September 7 in 9:III:1-5E (73-77) from the year 1750.
*St. Nestor the Chronicler of the Kiev Near Caves (October 27) [1050-1114]: 10:XI:261-262 (297-298)
Editor: In AASS October 27 in 10:XII:181 (215) from the year 1867.
*St. Nicetas the Stylite, Wonderworker of Pereyaslavl (May 24) [†1186]: 10:XI:139 (175)
Editor: Not under AASS May 24: 5:V:269-272 (511-514) from year 1685, and not listed as saint (with †) in 10:X:948 (976) from year 1861.
*St. Pimen the Much-Ailing of the Kiev Near Caves [†1139]: 10:XI:195 (231)
Editor: Not under AASS August 7 in 8:II:180C-184E (208-212) from the year 1733.
*St. Prochorus of the Kiev Near Caves (February 10) [†1103]: 10:XI:67 (103)
Editor: Not under AASS February 10 in 2:II:377-379F (415-417) from the year 1658.
*Sts. Spyridon and Nicodemus the Prosphora-Bakers of the Kiev Near Caves (October 31) [†1148]: 10:X:864 (892), 874 (902); 10:XI:267 (303)
Editor: Not under AASS October 31 in 10:XIII:683-687 (751-755) from the year 1883.
*Stephen Nemanya of Serbia, a.k.a. Simeon the Myrrh-Gusher of Mt. Athos (February 13) [†1200]: 10:XI:71-73 (107-109)
Editor: Not under AASS February 13 in 2:II:642-644 (680-682) from the year 1658.
*St. Titus the Presbyter of the Kiev Near Caves (February 27) [†1190]: 10:XI:81 (117)
Editor: St. Titus is not under AASS February 27 from year 1658: 2:III:671-673E (709-711).

13th century
*Abbess St. Parasceva of Polotsk (October 28) [†1239]: 10:XI:262-264 (298-300), 277 (313); 10:XII:420 (454)
Editor: In 1273 Bl. Pope Gregory X of Rome (1271-1276) canonized St. Parasceva of Polotsk, who reposed in Rome in 1239; cf. Fr. Koncevicius 53 citing Msgr. Pelesz I:420.
*Peter (David) and Febronia (Euphrosyne), Wonderworkers of Murom (June 25) [†1228]: 10:XI:158-159 (194-195)
Editor: In AASS June 25 in 6:V:2E (218), 111 (327) from the year 1709.
*Archbishop St. Saba I of Serbia (January 14) [1169-1234]: 1:I:979-983 (1063-1067); 10:XI:39 (75), 42-44 (78-80)
*Bishop Simon of Vladimir and Suzdal (May 10) [†1226]: 10:X:956 (984); 10:XI:125 (161)
Editor: Not under AASS May 10 in 5:II:490C-494E (536-540) from the year 1680.

14th century
*Metropolitan Alexis of Kiev and Moscow (February 12) [r. 1354-1378; omitted from Russian Catholic calendar in 1940]: 2:II:639-641 (677-679); 10:XI:70-71 (106-107)
*Sts. Anthony, John, and Eustace of Vilnius (April 14) [†1342]: 4:II:265 et seq. (?); 10:XI:109 (145), 310 (346)
*Bishop James of Rostov (November 27) [†1392]: 10:XI:290 (326)
*John the New of Suceava (June 2) [†1330]: 6:I:263-264 (349-350); 10:XI:145 (181)
Editor: Gregory Tsamblak (Metropolitan of Kiev 1414-1420), who attended the 16th Ecumenical Council (Constance 1414-1418) and was Catholic according to AASS 9:II:xxii:E, §94 (47), described the martyrdom of John.
*Peter of Korish, a mid-14th century hermit of Serbia (November 25): 10:XI:289 (325)
*Metropolitan Peter of Kiev (December 21) [r. 1308-1326; omitted from Russian Catholic calendar in 1940]: 10:XI:313-314 (349-350)
*St. Sergius the Wonderworker of Radonezh (September 25) [1314-1392]: 9:VII:3-4 (39-40); 10:XI:234-235 (268-269)
*St. Stephen the Enlightener of Perm (April 26) [1340-1396]: 10:XI:115 (151)
Editor: Cf. the brief notice in AASS April 26 in 4:III:408C (446) from the year 1675.

15th century
*Andrew the New Martyr of Chios (May 29) [†1465]: 5:VII:184-188 (294-298); 10:XI:143 (179)
*Abbot Dionysius of Glushitsa, Vologda (June 1) [†1437]: 6:I:135 (221)
Editor: Not listed as saint in 10:XI:145 (181) from the year 1864.
*Monk Joannicius of Devich (November 4) [†1430]: 10:XI:270 (306)
*Metropolitan Macarius the Hieromartyr of Kiev (May 1) [r. 1495-1497]: 10:XI:118-119 (154-155)
Editor: Not under AASS May 1 from the year 1680.

16th Century
*Despotina (Princess) Angelina Brancovich of Serbia (July 30) [†7/30/1520]: 10:XI:226 (190)
Editor: Not under AASS July 30 in 7:VII:127-130D (159-162) from the year 1731.

17th century
*Luarsab II of Georgia (June 21) [†1622]: 10:XI:157 (193)
Editor: Not under AASS June 21 in 6:IV:64-66 (98-100) from year 1707.

*Nestor the Silent (April 26) [?]: 4:III:424 (462)

The Bollandists mention St. Michael of Chernigov in 10:XI:71 (107), 85 (121). In 9:VI:105E (from the year 1757) they say: "Michael, princeps Zernichoviensis, aut Czernioviensis, et Theodorus ejus famulus memorantur hodie in Ephemeridibus Moscorum figuratis. At non conflat nobis, Catholici ne fuerint an schismatici. Non coli tamen apud Catholicos, habemus ex notitiis Polonicis." See also 5:I:xxxxiv (60), from the year 1680.

Friday, March 11, 2011 Forums

O infinitely merciful Lord, promptly take into your Heavenly Kingdom the souls of all the recently departed, including the victims of the earthquakes in China and Japan, and the victims of the terrorist car bomb attack in Faisalabad, Pakistan. We pray, O Lord our God, that they died within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church. Sts. Mary, Joseph, Raphael, and Pionius the Hieromartyr, pray to God for us.

Dear readers, please pray for me, and please join me in praying for the members of the forums. These forums are one place in which I am trying to find out the answer to the following question: "What led the saintly Josyf Slipyj to the requisite (for liturgical veneration) moral certainty that Palamas--who died in 1359 and is not recorded as becoming Catholic in 1355 when Pope Innocent VI of Rome (1352-1362) sent Paul of Smyrna (Titular Latin Patriarch of Constantinople 1366-1370) to the Palamas-Gregoras debate--did not die before accepting the truth of the dogma of Filioque?"

I have trouble not characterizing the responses I have gotten (in addition to other posts) from people identifying as Catholics (and Orthodox in communion with Rome) as follows. These scandalous propositions are either explicit statements from forum members or the direct logical result of their statements:
1. The teachings on "no salvation outside the Church" in Denzinger are not dogmatic; they are outdated and have been corrected and replaced with a different teaching by Vatican II.
2. How dare you correct "Catholics" who say that (1) despite real, objective dogmatic differences, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church subsists in both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church; or both Churches are parts of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Churches; and (2) Catholicism and Orthodoxy are equally certain paths to salvation.
3. I'm an Eastern Catholic, but Filioque is not a dogma, I don't believe Filioque is true.
4. Someone who dies in the state of willful and knowing "obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of Baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith" and willful and knowing "refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him" (CIC 751) can be saved.
5. St. Gregory Palamas never attacked the dogmas of the Catholic Church.

Remember CCEO 905: "In fulfilling ecumenical work especially through open and frank dialogue and common undertakings with other Christians, due prudence has to be kept avoiding the dangers of false irenicism, indifferentism and immoderate zeal."

I hope that, in combating false irenicism and indifferentism, I am not guilty of immoderate zeal.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Metropolitans of Kiev

Mirror link

Which Metropolitans of Kiev were Catholic and which ones were Orthodox?

We consult, among other sources, the venerable Bollandist Fr. John Stilting, S.J.'s "Dissertation on the Conversion and Faith of the Russians" in Acta Sanctorum 9:II:i-xxvii (PDF file pages 25-51). Page numbers in parentheses indicate the page of the downloaded PDF document.

St. Michael I of Kiev (988-992): Catholic
-see Bollandists 10:XI:237 (October, tome XI, page 237)
-Blazejowskyj 63: does not give definite dates; doubtful of Michael's existence
-Joseph B. Koncevicius: 
-Pope was John XV (XVI) of Rome (985-996)
-Patriarch of Constantinople was the Catholic St. Nicholas II Chrysoberges (984-996) [AASS 8:I:120F-121D (146-147); 10:XI:310 (346); Siméon Vailhé in 1907 DTC 3.2:1359]
Leontius of Kiev (992–1008): Catholic
-Fr. Mauricio Gordillo, S.J. in the 1938 DTC 14.1:217: the letter denouncing unleavened bread is not by Leontius of Kiev, but by a metropolitan in Bulgaria after the time of the anti-Catholic bishops Leo of Ochrid and Michael Cerularius
-Koncevicius 67 agrees with Fr. Gordillo
-Mgr. Pelesz I:188, §29 (200):
-Blazejowskyj 64-65: does not give definite dates; 
-Popes were John XV (XVI) (985-996), Gregory V (996-999), Sylvester II (999-1003), John XVII (XVIII) (1003), and John XVIII (XIX) of Rome (1003-1009)
-Antipope was John Philagathus of Piacenza ("John XVI (XVII)" 997-998; †1013)
-Patriarchs of Constantinople were Catholic Sisinnius II (996-998) [Siméon Vailhé in 1907 DTC 3.2:1359] and Sergius II (1001-1019)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blog Fast

Mirror link

Dear readers, I am sorry for leaving you with many unfinished posts (e.g., the Fr. Divry posts and the Aurelio Palmieri post), but this blog is taking up way too much of my time, to the detriment of my grades. I am taking a break until I get my priorities straight (i.e., school first) and get my grades back up, and I will probably post no more than a few times between now and mid-May. Sts. Mary, Joseph, Raphael, Augustine the Great, Thomas Aquinas, and Rita of Cascia pray for me, a sinner!

Dear readers, pray the Rosary for me, a sinner. Thank you and God bless you and yours. Happy feast day of Bishop St. Polycarp the Martyr of Smyrna; St. Polycarp, pray to God for us!

The commemoration of Saint Polycarp, bishop and martyr, who is honored as a disciple of the blessed John and the last witness of apostolic times and, under the emperors Mark Anthony and Lucius Aurelius Commodus and in the presence of the proconsul and all the people, was delivered up to fire in the amphitheater at Smyrna when he was nearly ninety years of age, giving thanks to God that he had been deemed worthy to be numbered among the martyrs and receive a share in the cup of Christ. -- USCCB website

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pope St. Leo III & Filioque (Palmieri)

Since no one is ignorant that Pope St. Leo III of Rome (795-816) upheld the dogma of Filioque, I am posting a rough translation of Aurelio Palmieri's treatment of Pope St. Leo III's refusal to add Filioque to the Creed, from Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. A. Vacant, et al. (Paris 1913) 5.2:2329-2931. Pope St. Leo III pray for us!

Translation complete as of 9/8/2015, thanks be to God
But if Leo III was convinced of the dogmatic truth of Filioque, why did he blame them for the insertion of this formula to the Symbol, why he did he urge the legates of Charlemagne not to sing the symbol with the addition? Is not his behavior proof that he believed in the inviolability of the Symbol of Constantinople?

New Catholic Encyclopedia Ambiguities on Canonizations

From yesterday's post in which I show that Alexander Nevsky might have been Catholic from 1248 until his death in 1263:
In the New Catholic Encyclopedia article "Alexander Nevski [NCE, vol. 1, 2nd ed., p. 263], Olgerd P. Sherbowitz-Wetzor says, "He is venerated as a saint in the Russian Church." Properly speaking, the Russian Church is the Russian Catholic Church, and I hope that is what Sherbowitz-Wetzor means; the New Catholic Encyclopedia should be revised to dispel many ambiguities about canonizations.
The following examples show that the 2003 New Catholic Encyclopedia (which had some articles revised in 2010) is not uniformly clear about whether the Catholic Church considers certain people to be saints.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Was Alexander Nevsky Catholic?

Mirror link

Alexander Nevsky (1220-1263), Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir, was anti-Catholic his whole life
Update 9/11/2015: The definitive work of James Zatko vis-a-vis various other authors and public knowledge of the ecclesiastical policy of Metropolitan Cyril III of Kiev (previously detailed elsewhere) lead the author to believe that Alexander Nevsky grew up Orthodox, became Catholic in 1248 (Alexander's father died a Catholic), but then became Orthodox again in 1249 or within a few years of that year. Details to follow before October 1.

1. Did Alexander Nevsky, canonized by the Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow and All Russia (1542-1563) in 1547,{1} convert to Catholicism? The conventional wisdom is that he did not; this is the "unanimous" consensus of "Russian writers,", according to the expert Aurelio Palmieri (1870-1926).{2} His Life asserts that he said in 1248 to visiting papal legates that Russian Orthodox are members of Christ's One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and that they adhere firmly to the Seven Ecumenical Councils: "These we know very well, but we do not accept your teaching."{3}

2. There are strong reasons to doubt the legendary anti-Catholicism of Russia's "national hero,"{4} whom Pope Innocent IV of Rome (1243-1254) of happy memory tried to convert to the only true faith, Catholicism.{5} In his 1/23/1248 letter to Alexander, Pope Innocent IV exhorted him to join the Catholic Church, like the former's father, Grand Prince Yaroslav II of Vladimir (1238–1246) did after he renounced schism in front of the Franciscan John of Plano Carpini (1182-1252).{6} Russian historians say that Alexander made his aforementioned rebuff to two cardinals who delivered the letter, Galda and Emonte, but this is doubtful.{7} Pope Innocent IV joyfully congratulated Alexander on becoming Catholic in his 9/15/1248 letter to the latter.{8} In this letter, Innocent invites Alexander to receive Archbishop Albert of Prussia with dignity and work with him to convert people to Catholicism.{9} Innocent granted Alexander's request to be permitted to build a Roman Catholic cathedral in Pskov.{10} The anti-Catholic "Confession of Faith of St. Alexander Nevsky" is apocryphal.{11}

3. Palmieri makes these concluding remarks in his DHGE article: "We have no further information on the relationship between Alexander and Innocent IV. ... It is difficult, from the lack of documents, to decide the question" of whether Alexander Nevsky converted to Catholicism and died a Catholic.{12}

4. While Alexander Nevsky figures as a saint on many web collections of Catholic saints,{13} such collections are not always reliable,{14} and I have been misled by them in the past (I apologize to you, dear readers, for my mistakes in this regard, and any other errors!). In the New Catholic Encyclopedia article "Alexander Nevski,"{15} Olgerd P. Sherbowitz-Wetzor says, "He is venerated as a saint in the Russian Church." Properly speaking, the Russian Church is the Russian Catholic Church, and I hope that is what Sherbowitz-Wetzor means; the New Catholic Encyclopedia should be revised to dispel many ambiguities about canonizations.{16}

Notes & References
{1} "Repose of St. Alexander Nevsky" at OCA website.
{2} Palmieri, Aurelio. "The Religion of Russia." The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 20 Feb. 2011 <>.
{3} "Repose..."
{4} Palmieri, loc. cit.
{5} Ibid.
{6} Palmieri, "Alexandre Nevski," Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. A. Baudrillart, et al. (Paris 1912—) 2:262.
{7} Ibid. If the reader knows of any such cardinals, please let me know--I have no record of their existence.
{8} Ibid.
{9} Ibid.
{10} Ibid.
{11} Ibid.
{12} Ibid.
{13} See Alexander's entries at and Patron Saints Index, which links to his entry in the 1910 New Catholic Dictionary.
{14} For instance, Patron Saints Index and list the anti-Catholic monk Nicodemus of Mt. Athos (the Hagiorite) (1749-1809), who notoriously denied the validity of Catholic baptism, as a saint of the Catholic Church! The Orthodox Church did not canonize Nicodemus until 1955, 126 years after the reunion of the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church. The official, public ecclesiastical veneration of saints who were known to have written against the teachings of the Catholic Church presupposes the moral (but not necessarily historical) certainty that these persons died after being received formally into the Catholic Church or explicitly desiring to enter the Catholic Church. See "False Ecumenism." The Banana Republican. 8 Dec. 2010. 20 Feb. 2011 <>.
{15} NCE, vol. 1, 2nd ed., p. 263.
{16} "New Catholic Encyclopedia Ambiguities on Canonizations." The Banana Republican. 21 Feb. 2011 <>.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fr. Divry's Explanation of the Tabor Light 2

Mirror link

The following is VERY roughly translated from pp. 503-505 of Fr. Édouard Divry, O.P., La Transfiguration selon l'Orient et l'Occident:
8. Is the hypostatic property, defined above, created or uncreated?
Applied to Christ, the question offers an inept alternative response. In fact, "created" and "uncreated" qualify the natures, human and divine respectively, of Christ. A created personal property, and thus driven by the human nature alone, pertains to the Person of Christ; it is therefore defined as hypostatic. A personal property, innate in the divinity of Christ, also belongs to His Person, and is therefore also hypostatic. By the theological axiom of the communication of idioms, the prime unity of the Person with His divine or human properties that exist in the unity of one ontological subject.1518 In other words, these concrete properties all depend on the same supposit, the Person of the Incarnate Word.

1518. The expressions of St. Thomas Aquinas like "gratia personalis" (cf. ST III, q. 8, a. 5, ad 3), "esse personalis" (cf. ST III, q. 17, a. 2, c.) respond solely to the concern of making the person of the Word that which returns directly to Him as a subject, but do not necessarily anticipate the distinction between created and uncreated.

In the case of Christ's illumination on Tabor, the Orthodox see in this light an uncreated energy, the Latins a light created by a miracle. However, the two sides, Latins and Greeks, could recognize in this light a certain hypostatic property of Christ.

We think of the metaphor of a two-sided reality in order to speak about grace: a presence of the light of glory visible to the witnesses' eyes of faith, and a reality visible to the senses, produced by a miracle with the help of a form that could be a pre-glorious quasi-habitus that participates in the uncreated divine light. It is perhaps worth reminding the reader that "quasi" is understood here in the sense of providing certain exceptional characters of the habit, and not in the clearly inadequate sense of "almost." The two aspects, created and uncreated, of this light include a certain original Personal property, that of Christ illuminated in His divinized corporeal humanity. It is thus that our theological effort interprets, with regard to the Transfiguration, the laconic expression of the Ecumenical Council Constantinople III (681): "two natures radiate in His one hypostasis."1519 This hypostatic irradiation makes perfect sense in its application to the Transfiguration.

1519. Dogmatic definition of Constantinople III, Denzinger, n. 558 [292], p. 206: "δύο αὐτοῦ τὰς ϕύσεις ἐν τῇ μιᾷ αὐτοῦ διαλαμπούσας ὑποστάσει."

In applying this doctrine to the saints with all the necessary modifications, one should answer the demanding initial question in affirming that any created effect comes from the Triune God considered consubstantially as One. However, if it is admitted, with St. Thomas Aquinas, that the personal procession in the Trinity is the reason for the procession of creatures, then "something personal may also be signified with a relation to the creature."1520 A necessarily hypostatic relation, even as weak as a relation of reason between God and His creature, may therefore intervene in the case of the procession of creatures.1521

1520. Thomas Aquinas, In I Sent., d. 27, q. 2, a. 3, ad 6: "potest etiam aliquid personale cum respectu ad creaturam significari" (trans. G. Émery, La Trinité créatrice, p. 551).
1521. Idem., In I Sent., d. 14, q. 1, a. 1, sol.: "quia processiones personarum æternæ, sunt causa et ratio totius productionis creaturarum" (trans. G. Émery, La Trinité créatrice, p. 386).

Yet the hypostatic property in the saint is defined very precisely in the right respect of a real relation of the created to the uncreated, and not vice versa.


The following is VERY roughly translated from pp. 507-509:
11. What ecumenical value can we expect from the hypostatic property?
Within a framework of dogmatic theology, it seems difficult to speculate on what could happen upon the reception of this simple theological hypothesis formulated during research that concentrated an immense Patristic and hagiographical heritage. The main part of this research already consists in the creation of an intellectual space of meeting and discovery of two traditions that often ignore each other. This is certainly the beneficial aspect that one should retain in this effort of ecumenical theology, even though the work of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has largely cleared the way thanks to his treatise on the icon of Christ.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Real Identity of Essence and Will in God (Aquinas)

Mirror link


First Text
Did Things Proceed from God of Natural Necessity or by the Decree of His Will?

6. In God nature and will are the same: and consequently if He produces things willingly it would seem that He produces them naturally.
Reply to the Sixth Objection. Although will and nature are identically the same in God, they differ logically, in so far as they express respect to creatures in different ways: thus nature denotes a respect to some one thing determinately, whereas will does not.

8. God's operation is His essence: and His essence is natural to Him. Therefore whatever He does he does naturally.
Reply to the Eighth Objection. Although God's operation belongs to Him naturally seeing that it is His very nature or essence, the created effect follows the operation of His nature which, in our way of understanding, is considered as the principle of His will, even as the effect that is heating follows according to the mode of the heat.

18. The effect proceeds from its cause in action: wherefore a cause is not related to its effect except as related to its action or operation. Now the relation of God’s action or operation to Himself is natural, since God’s action is His essence. Therefore the relation of God to His effect is also natural so that He produces it naturally.
Reply to the Eighteenth Objection. The effect follows from the action according to the mode of the principle of the action: wherefore since the divine will which has no necessary connection with creatures is considered, in our way of thinking, to be the principle of the divine action in regard to creatures, it does not follow that the creature proceeds from God by natural necessity, although the action itself is God's essence or nature.

20. Since what exists of itself is prior to that which exists by another, it follows that the first agent acts by His essence. Now His essence and His nature are the same. Therefore He acts by His nature: and thus creatures proceed from Him naturally.
Reply to the Twentieth Objection. God's will is His essence: wherefore His working by His will does not prevent His working by His essence. God's will is not an intention in addition to His essence, but is His very essence.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fr. Divry's Explanation of the Tabor Light 1

Mirror link

VERY Roughly translated from the French in pp. 425-426 of Fr. Édouard Divry, O.P., La Transfiguration selon l'Orient et l'Occident:

Our solution adopted in order to explain the Light of Tabor
In his Seven Canonical Epistles, Nicholas of Gorran (†1295), in a text very close to the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas but posterior to it, carefully posed to us the problem of the Light seen in the Transfiguration, considered in its twofold intelligibility: "I believe that this light was glorious by an analogical similitude, not univocally. Indeed, this was a light formed (formata) in the body by the divinity (a divinitate) that the Apostles apprehended by their external senses. Through this light that their eyes were seeing, they understood by their intellect (intellexerunt) the light of glory that they, however, did not see with their fleshly eyes."1309 We will continue to comment on these two levels perceived by Nicholas of Gorran: the visible light witnessed by the senses, and the light of glory that is invisible but grasped by the intellect.

St. Thomas effectively distinguishes the subject (subjectum) and the term (terminus) of all that is attributed to the Son, and, in so doing, he distinguishes the divine Person (Persona) as the subject, and the human nature (natura) as the term. He uses this distinction particularly in the case of the movement (motus) of the human nativity (nativitas).1310 Applying this analogically to the case of the light of the Transfiguration, we say that the term of movement of the Transfiguration consists in the shining visible light (claritas), and that the subject of movement of the Transfiguration goes back to a Personal property--the spiration a Filio--, then in obliquo back to the very Person of the Word.1311

If the three Apostles grasped, through their sufficiently spiritualized senses, that at the Transfiguration it was the divine glory, it means that they were able to understand also that the luminous visible quality is not numbered analogically with a property of the Person of the Son, grasped in their intellect. The underlined phrase in Nicholas of Gorran, "a divinitate," designates first of all the source, the efficient cause, that is to say, God Himself. All theologians, Latin and Eastern, agreed on the first cause, that is, the divine origin of the Transfiguration. Did Christ, in His Soul, participate in this action? Inasmuch as Christ, in His Soul, merited--and He alone merited this--the glorification of His Body,1312 was the pre-glorification of Christ's Body secondarily an effect of His very powerful Soul?1313 Christ's Soul could actually be a second cause of the illumination of His Body, thereby causing, inwardly by itself, a reinforcement of an illuminating form for the Body representing a Personal property as in similitude. This is the main finding of this chapter, as a Thomist extension.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Palamas & Patristics 1

Mirror link

Here is a translation of part Fr. Martin Jugie, A.A. (1878-1954), "Palamas, Grégoire," in: M. Vacant et al., eds., Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, tome XI/2 (Paris 1932), cols. 1761-1763. Many thanks to Dr. Peter Gilbert of De Unione Ecclesiarum for sending me the French text. I added some references, e.g., to St. Thomas Aquinas.

N.B. This translation is finished, thanks be to God!

Did Palamas have a good game in the field of positive theology? Certainly not. But he could fight more easily there than in the field of philosophy, where he was beaten in advance. He could at first, as we said before, hide behind the anthropomorphisms of common language that the Fathers, just like everyone else, have employed, without always explicitly applying the correctives that they put in place. Also, he and his party composed Patristic florigelia full of vague and meaningless passages, which they pulled together by a sophistic and entirely subjective exegesis. These florigelia have no probative value for the system they are intended to support. We are astonished, when browsing through them, by the exegetical blindness of their authors and the aplomb with which they list a [large] number of texts that have nothing to do with their theories. Without doubt, certain Fathers spoke in a rather obscure manner about the Taboric Light. There are, for example, in the homilies of St. John Damascene and St. Andrew of Crete, in the writings of St. Maximus, and in others expressions which, at first glance, appear to favor the new theology in some way; but is only in appearance, and anti-Palamite theologians have had no trouble in dispelling these verbal ambiguities. They all could assemble a great number of passages in which the absolute simplicity of God is expressly taught and the Palamite distinctions are explicitly condemned. Note, for example, an extract from St. Nicephorus, given in the First Refutation of Constantine Copronymus, 41, P.G., t. C, col. 304-305, falsely attributed by both parties to St. Theodore Graptos, which recurs constantly in the polemical writings of the period and subjected to tortuous exegesis by Palamas and his followers; several passages from St. Maximus, Pseudo-Dionysius, and others, which Nicephorus Gregoras assembled in his discussion with Nilus Cabasilas, Hist. byzant., b. XXII-XXIV, P.G., t. CXLVIII, col. 1328-1433.

Palamas especially abused the authority of the Fathers, when he sought to establish a real distinction between the divine essence and its energy from the passages where the Fathers prove, against the heretics, the real distinction of the divine persons among themselves. For him, in fact, the two distinctions go hand in hand and are of the same order. He reasons as follows: if the simplicity of God is not destroyed by the real distinction between the divine persons among themselves, it is no more ruined by the real distinction between the divine essence and its energies and attributes. This reasoning implies another affirmation of our theologian: it is not only the case that the persons differ from each other, but each of them is really distinct from the essence. There is, between the essence and each person, the same distinction and difference that there is between the essence and the energy; cf. the dialogue Theophanes, P.G., t. CL, col. 929A, and Capita theologica, 135, ibid., col. 1216C [Sinkewicz 241]: "τῶν ὑποστάσεων ἑκάστη μήτε οὐσία ἐστὶ μήτε συμβεβηκός;" cf. also his Confession of Faith, P.G., t. CLI, col. 766BC. According to him, just as we say, "ἄλλο ἡ οὐσία καὶ ἄλο ἡ ἐνέργεια", we must also say "ἄλλο ἡ οὐσία καὶ ἄλλο ἡ ὑπόστασις". This is the confusion of the absolute and the relative, and further compromises the simplicity of the divine being.

The Hesychast theologian will also find, in the Fathers, texts proclaiming the incomprehensibility of God and conclude therefrom that the divine essence is completely invisible, inaccessible, and imparticipable to creatures, even those deified by grace. He juxtaposes the Scriptural texts that sometimes say that no person has seen God [Jn 1:18], at other times promising face to face vision with Him as He is [1 Cor 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2]. He deduces from this that God is absolutely invisible in His essence, but that He is visible in His energy. He understands the face to face vision of God as contemplation of something that comes from God, not of God's essence itself. By this doctrine, he satisfied the aspirations of mystics and promised them the vision of God on earth, that is to say, His light and glory, without falling into Messalianism. From these considerations he deduced the following hermeneutical rule, which he applied equally to texts from Scripture and the Fathers: "When you read that God is incommunicable and inaccessible, understand this of His essence. When you read, however, that He is communicated to creatures, that He is seen face to face, understand this of His energy." Cf. Theophanes, loc. cit., col. 937D, 938B; Capita theologica, 149, 150, ibid., col. 1224-1225 [Sinkewicz 255-257]. As we said above, the invisibility of the divine essence, even for the good angels and the elect, is an axiom for Palamas, which a great number of Byzantines uncontroversially admitted with him. This opinion he based on several texts of the Greek Fathers, which one must, without doubt, understand of vision by only natural powers, or of the incomprehensibility properly said of the divine being. As our theologians say, God is seen as a "whole" by the blessed, because He is simple; but He is not seen "wholly" by any creature: "totus videtur, sed non totaliter" [cf. St. Thomas Aquinas. ST I, q. 12, art. 7, ad 3]. The Byzantines of which we are speaking do not seem to have made this necessary distinction. Palamas drew some support for his theory, and could embarrass those of his opponents who accepted his premise.

He also believed he found support for his theories in the definition of the Sixth Ecumenical Council proclaiming the existence of two natures and two energies [operations] in Jesus Christ, and we saw that the Council of 1351 presented the new doctrine as a development, ἀνάπτυξις, of this definition. This was their reasoning: the Council proclaimed two natures and two energies: if the human energy is really distinct from the human nature, it must also be the case that the divine energy is really distinct from the divine nature; otherwise, the terms of the definition would be meaningless. This argument especially is repeated in Palamite writings.

Finally, our theologian never failed to use other theological rationales sewn from subtle sophistries. He said, for example: "If, in God, the energy does not differ from the essence, then in Him generating, γεννὰν, will be the same thing as creating, ποιεὶν. There will be no difference between the Son and the Holy Spirit, on the one hand, and creatures on the other." Capita theologica, 96 et. sq., loc. cit., col. 1189 [Sinkewicz 197]. He also triumphed over his opponents by portraying them as pure nominalists, and in saying that they denied that God is an active nature. But St. Maximus had said: "A nature without activity is pure non-being." Acindynus and Barlaam were therefore atheists. They were also polytheistic, because in saying that the energies of God were created, they united the created and uncreated in a monstrous whole.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

VI. Palamism and the Catholic West (col. 1809)

Mirror link

Many thanks to Dr. Peter Gilbert of De unione ecclesiarum for supplying the French text of Fr. Martin Jugie's DTC article.

I have changed some of Fr. Jugie's words to clarify the meaning (e.g., the sentence involving George Scholarius; turn the spotlight on --> make a laughingstock of).

Thanks be to God! This translation is done. Any revisions are most welcome.

VI. Palamism and the Catholic West (col. 1809)
During the acute phase of the Palamite controversy, that is to say, between the years 1341 and 1368, talks between the imperial court of Byzantium and the popes for a crusade against the Turks and the union of the Churches were virtually constant. Moreover, Latins were not lacking in the East, and some Greeks converted to Catholicism there also. It was therefore inevitable that the noise of the quarrel which divided the Byzantine Church into two rival factions did not reach the ears of Westerners and, in particular, that the papal legates had not one day or another to deal with it.

1. We see, in fact, in 1355, the pontifical legate, Paul of Smyrna, attending, in the company of John V Palaeologus, the debate between Nicephorus Gregoras and Gregory Palamas. What impression Paul had of this theological joust, we can conclude from a letter he wrote later, that is to say, after the death of Urban V (†1370), to the pope and the cardinals to render an account of the discussions he had had on Palamism with the former emperor John Cantacuzene around 1366-1367. In this letter, published by Arcudius in Greek and Latin in his work Opuscula aurea theologica circa processionem Spiritus Sancti, Rome, 1630, and reproduced in P.G., t. CLIV, col. 835-838, he tells us that, having been sent by Urban V to go with John V Palaeologus (1366), he had tried to form an opinion on the Palamite doctrine, and had not arrived at a clear idea of it: "Cum nosse verum hujus doctrinæ cuperem," he says, "Constantinopoli degens, quando ad imperatorem Palæologum a commemorato summo pontifice missus tui, quævisimus istud scire, non autem potuimus verbo vel re aliquid certi de hac opinione et impia doctrina comprehendere. Quapropter et coactus sum verbis asperis eos insectari et veluti quibusdam argumentis provocare." P.G., loc. cit., col. 838. If he still did not understand it in 1366, it is evident that in 1355, after the debate between the two protagonists, he did not understand it. But he thought, one moment, that he had grasped it, following his talks with Cantacuzene, who had conceded, for a moment, that between God's essence and attributes there was a distinction of reason, κατ ἐπίνοιαν. But he was soon disappointed by reading the report of these discussions written by Cantacuzene himself, a report that has reached us, and which we talked about earlier, col. 1797. In talking about the distinction κατ᾽ ἐπίνοιαν, the emperor, like the Palamite theologians, simply wanted to say that the attributes could be separated mentally, and not in reality. The διαίρεσις πραγματική, or even the διάκρισις πραγματικὴ, was denied, and only a διαίρεσις κατ᾽ ἐπίνοιαν was admitted; but, in fact, the real distinction, διαφορὰ πραγματική, was maintained, and Cantacuzene continued to say, "ἄλλο ὴ οὐσία, ἄλλο ὴ ἐνέργεια, ἄλλο τὸ ἕχον, ἄλλο τὸ ἐχόμενον." In addition, he proclaimed the existence of a divine uncreated light, which is not identified with the divine essence; this is absolutely unacceptable: "Deinde scripsit de lumine, quod apparuit in monte Thabor, asserens illud esse increatum, et non esse Dei essentiam, sed quandam divinam operationem, quod ne auditu quidem ferendum est; nihil enim est increatum præter divinam essentiam." P.G., t. cit., col. 838.

The same letter of Patriarch Paul tells us that some Greeks had made the pope aware of the Palamite error and had informed him that Cantacuzene shared this error: "Nonnulli Græci retulerunt commemoratum imperatorum Cantacuzenum et Ecclesiam Græcorum multas suo dogmate divinitates inducere supereminentes et remissas, eo quod asserunt quæ Deo insunt realiter inter se differe." Ibid.. They had to be better informed when Demetrius Cydones came to Rome in 1369, accompanying John V Palaeologus, and when, later, the great opponent of Palamas, John Cyparissiotes, appeared at the papal court. This was a new divergence, a most serious one, in addition to those already too numerous, which separated the two Churches.

When the Council of Florence opened, there was reason to fear that this question of God's essence and His energy would only come to aggravate the difficulty of reunion. Yet it did not happen, because the Greeks had the prudence to avoid discussion on this topic. At the 25th session, the Latins handed them a list of four questions that still remained to be clarified, namely, the primacy of the pope, the existence of three categories of the deceased, the use of unleavened and leavened bread, and distinction between God's essence and His energy: τέταρτον, ἴνα ζητνθὴ περὶ θείας οὐσίας καὶ ἐνεργείας ἐπὶ συνόδου; cf. Ἡ ἁγία καὶ οἰκουμενικὴ ἐν Φλωρεντία σύνοδος (the narrative of Dorotheus of Mytilene), edition of the Benedictine Nickes, Rome, 1864, p. 304. They replied that they were not authorized by the emperor to discuss it, but they agreed to share their private opinion on the first three points. However, they refused to talk about the fourth point: "τὸ δὲ περὶ τῆς θείασ οὐσίας καὶ ἐνεργείας οὐδόλως ἀπολογούμεθα." Ibid.. The Latins, it seems, did not insist on a subject that would probably lead to an interminable debate. Still, we do not hear more about it, and the decree of union was soon signed. Indirectly, however, the Greeks had renounced Palamism by declaring they believed that the souls of the saints in Heaven behold God's essence: "καὶ τὸ θεωρεὶν τὰς ϕυχὰς τὴν οὐσίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀληθῶς προσιέμεθα." Ibid. And they signed the Decree of Union, which says, "animas in cælum mox recipi et intueri clare ipsum Deum trinum et unum. SICUTI EST." Mark of Ephesus, in his third discourse on Purgatory given at Ferrara, denied this crucial point: Neither the blessed angels nor the saints, according to him, enjoy the vision of God's essence; he tried to prove this with a large collection of Patristic texts. Asked about the object of beatitude, he responded that the elect enjoy the glory of God, δόξα, the brilliance that flows from His essence: "ὴ ἐκ Θεοῦ πεμπομένη αἴγλη." As for explaining what this glory is, he gave up, and referred the Latins to the definition given by St. John Climacus of divine illumination: "This is an ineffable energy, seen in an invisible manner and conceived in an inconceivable manner: Ἔλλαμϕίς ἐστιν ἐνέργεια ἄρρητος ὁρωμένη ἀοράτως καὶ νοουμένη ἀγνώστως." And he added: "You have heard the definition: seek nothing more." Cf. L. Petit, Documents relatifs au concile de Florence. La question de purgatoire à Ferrare, in Patrologia orientalis, t. XV, p. 157-162. In explaining it this way, Mark, who, as we have seen, was a strict Palamite, raised the question of the system of Palamas and the Taboric Light. We understand that when they went to Florence, on the doctrine of last things, the Latins would have liked to have some clarification on the object of beatitude and the Palamite theory of the divine essence and its energy. They seem to have been content with the answer [of the other Greeks] concerning the object of beatitude, an answer which categorically rejected the theory Mark maintained at Ferrara. It is likely that the emperor forbade his bishops to initiate a direct discussion on the divine essence and its energy. The Greeks themselves had sensed the danger of spreading the formulas and theories of Palamas before the Latin theologians, who were formidable logicians, and George Scholarius was there to advise them to keep to themselves such a childish theology, which, if exposed, would make the Greek nation a laughingstock. During the bitter controversy between Unionists and Anti-Unionists that followed the Council until the Capture of Constantinople, the question of Palamism, notwithstanding the definition given concerning the essence of beatitude, was not agitated. Instinctively, the more learned Greeks felt that they were not, with the theses of Palamas, on solid ground, and later polemicists very rarely dared to criticze the Latins for not admitting the Palamite theses.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Seize the Fewcha (Junior Sanchez)

Download this album today! I pre-ordered it off of iTunes, and was happy that it came with the individual tracks and the whole album as a mix, as well. I'm loving this electro-house album from Nervous Records; my favorite three tracks are: We Luv the Nite, Be There (Junior Sanchez Remix), and La Da's Dance (Junior Sanchez Nite Version).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Palamite Studies

Mirror link

Update: Saturday, 1/22/2011: Right now I'm reading the Orthodox Dr. Joost van Rossum's 1985 Fordham dissertation, Palamism and Church Tradition (I'm about halfway through) and I'll let you know any groundbreaking points he makes.
Update: Sunday, 1/30/2011: Check out Dr. Peter Gilbert's translation of Jean-Philippe Houdret, O.C.D., "Palamas et les Cappadociens," Istina 19 (1974), pp. 260-271.

1. While Gregory Palamas's views on Filioque were indisputably heretical,{1} his essence-energies distinction seems compatible with Catholic dogma on the simplicity of God, provided that it is not a real distinction.{2} Gerry Russo,{3} Dr. Joost van Rossum,{4} and Fr. Georges Florovsky,{5} and ex-Catholic Fr. Gabriel Bunge{6} say that Palamas posited a "real" distinction, in God Himself, between His essence and His energies. Such a distinction would contradict God's absolute simplicity,{7} but some of Gregory's statements support the theory that he taught a formal distinction.{8}

2. In his Dialogue Between an Orthodox and a Barlaamite 32, he says that the saints "call [God's essence and energies] one, but not indifferent, i.e., the same and not the same in different manners. ... you will find them saying in one place 'the same' and in another 'different,' because, in their view, they are both."{9} Since the divine names are not synonyms{10} and the divine attributes are virtually or even formally distinct,{11} the only identity left between (1) the attributes among themselves and (2) the essence and attributes is real identity.{12}