TEXTS on DIVINIZATION [/THEOSIS]
 by
POPE ST. GREGORY THE GREAT

 

The Vision of St. Benedict.. Medieval illum ms. 


In three of his Homilies on the Gospels and in the Moralia on Job Gregory uses the language of divinization/theosis.  In the passage from the Moralia is found something analogous to the Palamite distinction between energies and essence; between the divine creator and the divinized creature.  A pastoral application of this is found in Homily 30, where the invisible God may be contemplated in his visible saints. A more developed discussion of this doctrine may be found in his theology of contemplation, especially in the story of Benedict in the Tower Window in Dialogues, Bk. II


 

 

 

 

   HOMILIES on the GOSPELS
(tr. based in part on that of D. Hurst, Forty Gospel Homilies. (Cist. 1990)

Latin text in PL 76

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOMILY 2 [/13]

PL 76:1082D-83A

 

 

 

 

Luke 18:31-43  As they approached Jericho
there was a blind man ...

 

 

 

We must note that the blind man was enlightened while Jesus is said to be drawing near Jericho. Jericho is interpreted ‘moon’. In sacred scripture the moon symbolizes the weakness of our body, since as it wanes in its monthly changes it depicts the weakness of our mortal nature. 2. Notandum vero est quod cum Jesus Jericho appropinquare dicitur, caecus illuminatur. Jericho quippe luna interpretatur, luna autem in sacro eloquio [Col.1082D] pro defectu carnis ponitur, quia dum menstruis momentis decrescit, defectum nostrae mortalitatis designat.

Thus when our Creator drew near Jericho,

The blind man came to the light

Dum igitur conditor noster appropinquat Jericho,

caecus ad lumen redit,

so, when divinity upholds our broken human flesh,

the human race receives back light that it had lost.

quia dum divinitas defectum nostrae carnis suscepit,

humanum genus lumen, quod amiserat, recepit.

From God's human suffering,

comes human elevation to divinity.

Unde enim Deus [1083A] humana patitur,

 inde homo ad divina sublevatur.

The blind man is rightly described as sitting at the way-side and as begging. Truth himself told us: I am the way.’(Jn 14:6) Anyone ignorant of the brightness of eternal light is blind. If he already believes in his Redeemer he is sitting at the wayside. If he already believes but only pretends to ask for eternal light, if he refrains from praying, he is indeed a blind man sitting at the wayside, but he is now begging. If he believes, and knows the blindness of his heart, if he begs to receive the light of truth, he is sitting at the wayside begging. If anyone recognizes the darkness of his blindness, if anyone understands that the light of truth is wanting in him, let him cry from the bottom of his heart, let him cry also with his whole mind, let him say: ‘Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!(Lk 18:38)

[[p.95]

Qui videlicet caecus recte et juxta viam sedere et mendicans esse describitur; ipsa enim Veritas dicit: Ego sum via (Joan. XIV, 6). Qui ergo aeternae lucis claritatem nescit, caecus est; sed si jam 1441 in Redemptorem credit, juxta viam sedet; si autem jam credit, sed ut aeternam lucem recipiat rogare dissimulat, atque a precibus cessat, caecus quidem juxta viam sedet, sed minime mendicat. Si vero et crediderit, et caecitatem cordis sui cognoverit, et ut lumen veritatis recipiat postulat, juxta viam caecus sedet, et mendicat. Quisquis ergo caecitatis suae tenebras agnoscit, quisquis hoc, quod sibi deest, lumen aeternitatis intelligit, clamet medullis cordis, clamet et vocibus mentis, dicens: Jesu fili David, [Col.1083B] miserere mei.
   

 

 

 

 

HOMILY 8 [/7]

PL 76:1105 B

 

 

 

 

Luke 2:1-14: The Birth of Jesus and the
Angelic Proclamation to the Shepherds

 

 

 

Why was it that before our Redeemer's coming angels were worshipped by human beings and remained silent, but afterwards they shunned it, if it is not that after they beheld our nature, which they had formerly despised, raised up above them, they were afraid to see it ranked beneath them? They no longer dared to reject as weak and beneath them what they honored as above themselves in heaven's king, nor did they disdain human partnership, when they worshipped the human being who was God above themselves. Quid est quod ante Redemptoris adventum angeli ab hominibus adorantur, et tacent, postmodum vero adorari refugiunt, nisi quod naturam nostram, quam prius despexerant, postquam hanc super se assumptam conspiciunt, substratam sibi videre pertimescunt? Nec jam sub se velut infirmam contemnere ausi sunt, quam super se videlicet in coeli Rege venerantur. Nec habere dedignantur hominem socium, qui super se adorant hominem Deum.
Thus let us take care beloved brethren, lest any uncleanness polute us, when in the eternal foreknowledge we are equal to both God's citizens and the angels. Curemus ergo, fratres charissimi, ne qua nos immunditia polluat, qui in aeterna praescientia et Dei cives, et angelis ejus aequales sumus.
Let us preserve our dignity by our way of life. Let not dissoluteness corrupt us, no base thought find us out. Let wickedness not seize our minds, nor the rust of envy consume us. Let pride not puff us up, nor the search for earthly delights devour us, nor anger enflame us. Vindicemus moribus dignitatem nostram, nulla nos luxuria inquinet, nulla nos turpis cogitatio accuset, non malitia [1105B] mentem mordeat, non invidiae rubigo consumat, non elatio inflet, non ambitio per terrena oblectamenta dilaniet, non ira inflammet.

Indeed, Human beings are called gods. (Ps 82/81:6)

 Dii etenim vocati sunt homines. (Ps 82/81:6)

Defend, therefore, O human being, the honor of God that is yours against vice, because on your account God become a human being, He Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Defende ergo tibi, o homo, contra vitia honorem Dei, quia propter te factus est Deus homo, qui vivit et regnat in saecula saeculorum. Amen. 
   

 

 

 

 

HOMILY 30 [/30]

PL 76:1226 B-C

 

 

 

 

THE FEAST of PENTECOST
Gospel Jn.14:23-27:
If anyone loves me he will keep my word ... and we will dwell with him

 

 

 

 

 

[...] 9. Let us consider the condition in which the Spirit found the holy preachers on this day, and what it made of them. There is no doubt that they remained in a single inner room from fear of the Jews. Each of them knew only his native language, but as yet they did not venture to speak openly of Christ even in the language they knew. The Spirit came and taught them to speak in a variety of languages and to be strong in heart with its own strength. (Acts 2:2 ff.)They began to speak openly of Christ even in foreign languages, when for­merly they were afraid to speak about him even in their own. Their hearts were on fire, and they disregarded the physical suffering which they formerly feared. They overcame the power of physical terror out of love for their Creator.

9. Pensemus sanctos praedicatores nostros quales hodierna die reperit, quales fecit. Certe qui in uno conclavi pro Judaeorum metu residebant, nativitatis suae singuli linguam noverant, et tamen nec ea ipsa lingua quam noverant aperte Christum loqui praesumebant. Venit Spiritus, et in ore eos per diversitatem linguarum docuit, in mente autem ex auctoritate roboravit (Act. II, 2, seq.). Coeperunt et in aliena [1226B] Christum eloqui, qui de illo prius et in sua lingua loqui metuebant. Inflammatum etenim cor despexit tormenta corporis, quae ante metuebat; vicit vim carnalis formidinis prae amore conditoris.

Formerly they had given way to their adversaries out of fear,

but now they ruled over them in the power of the Spirit.

Et qui prius suis adversariis succumbebant formidine,

eis jam praeerant auctoritate.

Because it raised them to such a height,

what can I say but that it made the hearts of earthly human beings heaven?

 Qui ergo in tantae eos celsitudinis culmen erexit,

quid aliud dixerim, nisi quod mentes terrenorum hominum coelos fecit?

Ponder, dearly beloved, the relationship between today’s solemn observance of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the incarnation of the only-begotten Son.

Pensate, fratres charissimi, post incarnationem unigeniti Filii Dei qualis sit hodierna solemnitas de adventu Spiritus sancti.

As the latter is worthy of honor, so also is the former.

Sicut enim illa, ita quoque et haec est honorabilis.

In the latter God took upon himself a human nature, creating it for himself,

 but in the former human beings received God coming down upon them from above.

In illa quippe Deus in se permanens suscepit hominem,

in ista vero homines venientem desuper susceperunt Deum.

In the latter God became a human by nature,

in the former human beings became gods by adoption.

 In illa Deus naturaliter factus est homo,

in ista homines facti sunt per adoptionem  dii.[1226C]

If we do not want to remain unspirited in death, dearly beloved, let us love this life-giving Spirit.   Si ergo remanere carnales in morte nolumus, hunc, fratres charissimi, vivificantem Spiritum amemus.  [p.245]
But because flesh does not know Spirit, perhaps some-one may have this unspirited thought: ‘How can I love one I do not know?’ Even I grant that a mind which is intent on visible things does not know how to see what is invisible. It thinks of nothing but what it can see, and even when it is not involved with them, it is subconsciously taking in representations of them. While it is concerned with representations of what is material it cannot rise to what is immaterial. So it comes about that the more familiarly it carries bodily creatures in its thoughts, the less is it of its Creator. 1581 10. Sed quia caro spiritum nescit, dicat fortasse carnali cogitatione apud se aliquis: Quomodo diligere valeo quem ignoro? Hoc et nos concedimus, quia mens, visibilibus intenta, videre nescit invisibilem. Nulla enim nisi visibilia cogitat, eaque et cum non agit, eorum imagines introrsus trahit; dumque in imaginibus corporeis jacet, surgere ad incorporea non valet. Unde fit ut tanto deterius Creatorem nesciat, quanto in cogitatione sua familiarius corpoream creaturam portat.

Contemplate the Invisible God in His visible Saints

 
But while we cannot see God, there is something we can do to open a way for the eye of our understanding to come to him. Sed cum Deum videre non possumus, habemus aliquid quod agamus, unde iter fiat quo ad eum nostrae intelligentiae oculus veniat. [1226D]

It is certain that although we are utterly incapable of seeing Him in Himself

 it is possible for us now to see Him in His servants.

 Certe quem in se videre nullo modo valemus,

hunc in servis suis videre jam possumus.

When we see them doing astonishing things, we can be sure that God dwells in their hearts. Quos dum mira conspicimus agere, certum nobis fit in eorum mentibus Deum habitare.

From things incorporeal

let us draw forth the use of of corporeal things.

In re autem incorporea

 a rebus corporalibus usum trahamus.

None of us can look directly at the rising sun by gazing at its orb. Our eyes are repelled as they strain to see its rays. But we look at mountains bathed in sunlight and see that it has risen. Because we cannot see the Sun of righteousness himself, let us see the mountains bathed in his brightness, I mean the holy apostles. They shine with virtues and gleam with miracles. The brightness of the risen Sun has poured over them. Since he is invisible in himself, he has made himself visible to us through them, as if through mountains bathed in light.

 Nemo etenim nostrum orientem clare solem, in sphaeram illius intendendo, valet conspicere, quia tensi in ejus radiis oculi reverberantur; sed sole illustratos montes aspicimus, [1227A] et quia jam sol ortus est videmus. Quia ergo solem justitiae in seipso videre non possumus, illustratos montes claritate illius videamus, sanctos videlicet apostolos, qui virtutibus emicant, miraculis coruscant, quos nati solis claritas perfudit, et cum in seipso sit invisibilis, per eos nobis quasi per illustratos montes se visibilem praebuit.

The power of divinity in itself is like the sun in heaven;

in human beings it is like the sun [shining] on earth.

Virtus enim divinitatis in se quasi sol in coelo est;

virtus divinitatis in hominibus, sol in terra.

Let us then observe the Sun of righteousness on the earth, whom we cannot see in the sky; then when we walk by his light on earth with the feet of our works without stumbling, we may sometimes raise our eyes to observe him in heaven.  Solem ergo justitiae intueamur in terra, quem videre non possumus in coelo, ut dum inoffenso pede operis per hunc in terra gradimur, ad intuendum illum quandoque oculos in coelum levemus.
   

 

 

 

 

   MORALIA on JOB
Book II.23.42

PL 75:0575D
CCSL 143, 85

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOB 1:8.  Have you considered my servant Job - that there is none like him on earth?

VERS. 8.---Nunquid considerasti servum meum Job, quod non sit ei similis in terra?

 

 

 

 

42.  That Job means by interpretation, ‘Grieving,’ we have already said a little above.  And He is truly called ‘Grieving’ in figure, Who is declared by the testimony of the Prophet ‘to bear our griefs.’ (Isa.53,4)  Who has not His like on the earth; for every man is only man, but He is both God and Man.   .[0576A] Quod Job interpretetur dolens, paulo ante jam diximus. Dolens vero ipse veraciter per figuram dicitur, qui portare dolores nostros, Propheta attestante, perhibetur. Cui in terra similis non est, quia omnis homo tantummodo homo est, ipse autem Deus et homo.
He has not on earth His like, because although In terra ei similis non est, quia

every son by adoption advances to the reception of divinity,

etsi adoptivus quisque filius ad percipiendam divinitatem proficit,

 yet none ever receives it so as to [become], by nature, God.

nequaquam tamen ut Deus naturaliter sit accipit.
 He was even rightly styled a servant, because He did not disdain to take the form of a servant.  Nor did His taking the humility of the flesh injure His sovereignty, for in order that He might both take upon Him that which He was to save, yet not undergo alteration in that which He had, He neither lessened the Divine by the Human, nor swallowed up the Human in the Divine; for although Paul hath it, Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant; (Phil. 2,6.7.) yet to Him it is ‘emptying Himself,’ of the greatness of His Invisible Being to manifest Himself as Visible; so that the form of a servant should be the covering of That Which without limitation enters into all things by virtue of Godhead.  Again, God's saying to Satan in figure, Hast Thou considered My servant Job, is His exhibiting in his despite the Only-Begotten Son as an object of wonder in the form of a servant.  For in that He made Him known in the flesh as of so great virtue, He as it were pointed out to the adversary in his pride what it would grieve him to consider; but now that He had brought before him a perfect object for him to admire, it remains that in order to strike down his pride he should further go on to enumerate its excellencies.   Qui bene etiam servus dictus est, quia formam servi suscipere dedignatus non est. Nec majestati injuriam intulit assumpta humilitas carnis; quia et ut servanda susciperet, nec tamen habita permutaret, nec divina humanitate minuit, nec humana divinitate consumpsit; quia etsi per Paulum dicitur: Qui cum in forma Dei esset, non rapinam [Col.0576B] arbitratus est esse se aequalem Deo, sed semetipsum exinanivit formam servi accipiens (Philipp. II, 6), ei semetipsum exinanisse, est ab invisibilitatis suae magnitudine se visibilem demonstrasse, ut servi forma tegeret hoc quod incircumscripte omnia ex divinitate penetraret. Dei autem ad Satan per figuram dicere est: Nunquid considerasti servum meum Job? unigenitum filium contra eum in forma servi admirabilem demonstrare. Eo enim, quo illum tantae virtutis in carne innotuit, quasi superbienti adversario, quod dolens consideraret, indicavit. Sed quia bonum quod miraretur intulerat, restat ut ad reprimendam ejus superbiam virtutes illius adhuc enumerando subjungat. Sequitur.
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 



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