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Saint Photius the Great

Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit

Concerning statements in the sacred teachings which state that as the Son is begotten of the Father alone, so likewise the proper theology concerning the Holy Spirit is that He proceeds from one and the same cause; and also concerning the saying that because He is of one essence with the Son, He therefore proceeds from Him as well.

19. In general, aside from the properties characteristic of a specific hypostasis, whenever some property is truly possessed by any hypostasis other than the one first possessing it, the property shared by those hypostases belongs to the essence in order to not join that property to a specific hypostasis. In a word, however, it is really we men who determine the processions of the essence, and therefore it is we men who determine which hypostases will not submit themselves to share in the properties of the other hypostases. But if one knows by the eyes and ears of the mind that the procession is not from the Father as a hypostatic source, then one must deny a hypostatic procession of the Spirit from the Son as well. — The hatred of God is turned to the same sort of goal! — It is opportune to say at this point that it follows simultaneously that the specific features of the hypostases cannot be imitated either. Otherwise, we actually abandon the divine, hypostatic source and cause, and consequently lose the perfections of the hypostases in the essence. Let presumption see, despite itself, to what conclusion that doctrine hated by God arrives, for the lovers of falsehood have raged against the characteristic properties.

20. But one will say, when the Saviour mystically instructed His disciples, he truly said, the Spirit will receive of Mine and will proclaim Him to you. (John 16:14) Who cannot see that you appeal to the word of the Saviour, not in order to find an advocate for your doctrine, but in order to fashion brutal and insolent attacks against the Master Himself, for you break out into insolent disagreement with Him, Who is the ineffable source of truth, because of your reckless tongue? In fact, however, the Creator and Sustainer of the race teaches that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and in no way delivers to us the doctrine that He also proceeds from Himself. When mystically initiating us into the theology that, just as the Father, the cause, begets from Himself alone, so also the Spirit proceeds from that very same cause alone. But you argue that He has, by profound silence, withdrawn the first teaching that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father because He now announces the Spirit will receive from that which is mine. Thus, you claim that in mentioning the first teaching, He then reconciles the two opposing theories. But, whilst according to you He has done this, He in fact did not. You say that instead of the procession of the Spirit from the Father alone, the Son pours Himself into the procession of the Spirit as well. In what manner will you escape being liable to judgement since your lawlessness, shutting out the binding usage of the Synods, disrupts the unalterable truth of the hypostatic procession?

21. Having said this, however, your audacity did not hinder you from attempting what even children know is impossible. Yet, certainly now, even if you had not done so before, you must understand that the radiant word of the Lord and Saviour Himself stands against you. For if by saying, He will receive of me, not even then is your fable proven, although the deception might have had some excuse. Never, not ever can the understanding infer that receiving from someone for the sake of another necessity is identical with receiving existence by procession. But the Saviour, foreseeing the magnitude of this impious doctrine, sent forth His voice — mark you well! — so that your hateful treachery would not be distributed to many others. How is it that you open your ears to such teaching and speak against the absolute rule of the Lord, not adhering to it, but rather taking refuge in the love of men?

22. The Saviour did not say, He will receive from me, rather, He will receive from all that which is mine. For He saw and taught the truth to all, in great harmony and unassailable consistency with Himself: He will receive from that which is mine. There is a great and profound difference between the words from that which is mine and from me. The expression from me indicates the speaker of the phrase. But doubtless, another person is meant than the speaker. What other hypostasis, from whom the Spirit is said to receive, could be meant other than the Father? Because it cannot be — as has been recently contended against God — that He receives from the Son, and it certainly cannot be from the Spirit who Himself does the receiving! Do you see how you have not even reached the level of a child? For even schoolboys who have just begun attending school know the expression from me indicates him who speaks, whilst the phrase from that which is mine means another person, bound intimately in union to the speaker, but doubtless a different person than the one speaking. He thus guides the minds of schoolchildren unerringly, so that the phrase to which you flee for refuge, if it is at all true, will not support your ungodly doctrine of the faith. If you flee to repentance for refuge, the phrase will allow you no opportunity to contend against God.

23. Why does this saying, which even schoolchildren can see and understand, not devour you and your blasphemy? Why do you not fear, like criminals hiding your audacious deeds, but instead malign and falsify the Lord's words and make Him teach your errors? The Lord Himself plainly declares that the Spirit proceeds from the Father; neither will faithlessness to His Word, nor the intellect, permit this insult. It is evident that He never once uttered the phrase from me. Though you do not change the words, by stealth you commit the crime of changing from me to from mine, and by this trickery you accuse the Saviour of teaching what you believe. Therefore, on account of this new expression, which is only your own opinion, you have charged the Saviour with three falsehoods: that He said what He did not say; that He did not say what He did say; and that He taught an idea that does not even follow from His words, but which, rather, His teaching denies; and fourthly, you suggest He contradicts Himself. What shall we take first? On one hand He Himself said, He will receive from that which is mine but not from me; on the other hand, you rely on Him to teach the very thing that the phrase from me means, implying that He truly taught it. So, as you indeed prescribe, you murder the hypostases by hammering them together — truly something He never affirmed. — He taught the disciples by means of His words, declaring His mind, which is not at all knowable through the immaculate dialectic or processions. And He taught us that the concrete, hypostatic procession of the Spirit is from the Father, so that if, as you say, the Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as from the first hypostasis, then the Son comes into discord with Himself. You should at least make your theology applicable to all the hypostases, so as not to slight the Lord. But the Lord Himself did just this by means of the second phrase. He who finds in the grace of theology nothing reliable or consistent will never find abiding certitude.

24. The words, commands, and sayings of the Lord are not bound to time, and thus the intellect must properly interpret obscure phrases. It was on account of their impiety that He described their shamelessness. After saying, I am going to the Father (John 14:28), He said, But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But the truth I speak to you. It benefits you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. (John 16:6) I still have many things to say to you, but you are not now able to understand them. But whenever that One comes, the Spirit of truth, that One will guide you into all truth; for that One shall not speak from Himself, but whatever that One hears will that One speak, and the things coming that One will announce to you. That One will glorify Me, for that One shall receive of Mine and shall announce it to you. All things which the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that One shall receive of Mine and shall announce it to you. (John 16:12-14) Are these words not sacred, since they are delivered from God? And is it not this promise that clearly shows us to be right? For He keeps theology pure, puts the dishonesty of your doctrine to shame, and shuts off all occasion for this ungodly doctrine of yours. For He said that He knew the disciples were falling into despondency because He announced to them He would no longer be present with them after the manner of the body, but He would go to the Father. He lifts them up and encourages them souls with the truth. First, He teaches it is beneficial that He depart, and then He explains how it is beneficial: for if I do not go away, He said, the Paraclete (who comes from the Father) will not come to you. These kinds of words clearly exalt the Spirit to men, just as do the words you are not now able to understand. So, when will they be able to understand? When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. Therewith He produced and unveiled their minds to ineffable and exalted thoughts in which the Spirit shone forth to men, according to the exceeding honour due unto Him.

25. Therefore, what compares to the truths which the Lord taught concerning the Spirit? — And You were present, O teacher, to teach us, not to strengthen the abominable burden of heresy! — The strong and superlative Paraclete comes upon us in order to prepare us to be better and stronger in order to bear us upwards with the unburdensome knowledge of God. While the Lord uncovered only part of the truth to mankind, He said, The Spirit will guide you into all truth. After your teaching, we still have need of further wisdom, power, and truth, but when the Spirit comes, He will grant us boundless participation in wisdom, power, and truth. If You, the en-hypostatised Wisdom and Truth, teach these things, we are obligated to not doubt but to grant the Spirit an even greater honour and glory.

26. Thus, whilst the Saviour removes the despondency of the disciples by means of true theology and lofty doctrines concerning the Spirit, it was only human that their minds were in a turmoil of unhealthy thoughts. How morbid it is when the soul is consumed with grief and when judgement is muddled by the murk of this condition; then that which is for salvation is distorted and becomes hurtful. Therefore, as the perfect physician of body and soul, the Son prescribes the saving medicine beforehand, so that, inasmuch as the Spirit grants greater gifts, they would not think of the Spirit as being greater than the Son, nor would they be open to any thought which would make them forget the nature of their pride and tear apart the equality of the hypostases into inequality.

27. But the disciples do not confess such disturbances, nor have they made such thoughts their companions (perhaps it would be more respectful to acknowledge this sacred choir was superior to such confusion and trouble). Nevertheless, the inventor of wickedness, the one who puts forth that which is worse under the illusion that it is an improvement — thus having the characteristics of a heretical invention! — would have made many the victim of his wiles and sown it in the souls of men. But the Saviour, as befits God, quickly frustrates that sowing and frustrates their inventions by the onslaught of His words: That One will not speak from Himself, but whatever that One hears that One will speak. (John 16:13) For concerning Himself He had said: for all things which I have heard from My Father I made known to you. (John 15:15) It as if He had said, Both of Us have received from the Father the power to teach and enlighten your minds. Therefore, He first said of the Father, I glorified You upon the earth. (John 17:4) But the Father also glorified the Son, because it is written, I have both glorified it and will glorify it again. (John 12:28) And now the Son, through the previously mentioned and exalted teaching glorifies the Spirit and a little later adds: That One shall glorify me. (John 16:14) Everywhere He preserves the Spirit's equality of essence and equality of nature and dignity of equal rank absolutely perfect and unadulterated. Accordingly, it is said that He shares the common essence-above-essence of the more-than-glorious Trinity, in which each hypostasis glorifies each other hypostasis mutually with ineffable words. The Son glorifies the Father but the Father also glorifies the Son and glorifies the Spirit. It is easy to see how the wealth of grace to be discovered in the Spirit springs up, because the Spirit glorifies the Father, since He searches and reveals — rather He knows — the deep things of God. (see 1 Corinthians 2:10) Thus, as far as human nature was capable, He reveals these things to those who have prepared themselves as fitting receptacles for the light of Divine Knowledge in the saying, I have glorified it. For if the Son glorifies the Spirit with words like these and the Spirit glorifies the Son, then as the Kingdom, the power, and the dominion are common to all, so likewise is the glory they receive, not just through our worship, but by the glory they receive from each other.

28. The saying that He will glorify me does not mean that glory is lacking to the Paraclete, because the Paraclete is as great a manifestation of that which is mine as is the Son. With the phrase He will glorify me, the Son did not at all mean to make Himself greater in dignity than the Spirit. He will glorify me means as much of that glory which is mine because of the Father's glory is also in Him for you to contemplate. For just as I heard from the Father, I also taught to you. Thus, the Spirit will also receive from that which is mine and will likewise manifest Him to you. Everywhere, the Son mystically teaches equality of honour; everywhere the terms greater and lesser are excluded. From the same everlasting fount of grace comes both: the dignity of the eternal procession of the Spirit from the Father and, because of this, the equal dignity of His essence and nature also. For it is the Father Who initiates all greater and lesser things in every way.

29. Therefore, when He brightly extols the teaching that He will receive, He explicitly proclaims the reason why He shall receive: not in order to say that the Spirit will proceed from Himself, nor does He do so that the divine substance may be understood. — Consider, O man, the Lord's words! — From whom will the Spirit receive, so that at His coming He may announce it unto you? Although He had previously spoken these words, He confirms them by saying again, That One will receive of Mine and announce it to you. (John 16:14) He then more clearly reveals the meaning of the words That One will receive of Mine, he quickly adds, All things which the Father has are Mine (John 16:15), so that the word Mine means That One receives from the Father, Who is Mine. However, the Son, not content to stop with just the conception that that One will receive, goes on to unfold this teaching yet more perfectly by saying, That One receives from that which is Mine. (John 16:15) According to this line of reasoning, the Mine to which He refers is the Father because the things that are Mine are in the Father. In other words, the Spirit receives from the Father because that which is from the Father is that which is mine. So I say that whenever that which is mine is said, it is necessary for us to raise our thoughts to that which is the Son's, that is, the Father, and not to turn them to any other hypostasis. There is no excuse for you to hide, wrapping yourselves up in your quest, for it was chiefly on your account the other fantasies were refuted in advance by the words, All that the Father has is mine.

30. What is more enlightening than these pure teachings? What could show more clearly that the phrase, He will receive from that which is mine does not mean the Son sends the Spirit in company with the Father, nor does it in any way imply He receives the grace of causality? With sacred words it is proclaimed that the Spirit receives the operation of granting divine graces from the Father. With those graces, the Holy Spirit recounts these holy things in order that the disciples may receive the divine gifts by strengthening them to bear with firm and secure thoughts the knowledge of things to come, with no visible or invisible contradictions, even in the ineffable works of creation. Has not each implication of your impious teaching been destroyed from every direction? Would you yet presume to contrive your sophisms and falsehood, to devise clever schemes against your own salvation and against the truth?

31. Accordingly, for my part I pay no attention to the rest of your reflections. If you have committed the unforgivable sin, then I must refute, convict, and overturn every one of your earthly doctrines. But if you simply need your sight healed, then I must go before you and cure you from the same chalice of truth, which allays pains and purges disease. For if — O what if you have accosted the Spirit? — the procession from the Father is perfect — because Perfect God proceeds from Perfect God — then what specific and concrete thing does the procession from the Son contribute? For if He supplies something specific and concrete, it must also be declared what it is He has contributed and then the procession from the Father would not be perfect and complete. But if it is not possible to think or speak of something that has been added to the divine hypostasis of the Spirit, then why are you determined to insult the Son and the Spirit with your falsehoods, and by implication, our Father as well?

32. And again, if the Spirit proceeds from the Father and thus the Spirit's hypostatic property is discerned; and the Son is begotten of the Father and thus the Son's hypostatic property is discerned; then if — as this delirium of theirs would have it! — the Spirit also proceeds from the Son, then the Spirit is differentiated from the Father by more hypostatic properties than the Son of the Father. Both issue from the Father, and even though the Son issues forth by begetting and the Spirit by procession, nevertheless, one of two modes equally separates both from the hypostasis of the Father. But if the Spirit is further differentiated by two distinctions brought about by the dual procession, then the Spirit is not only differentiated by more distinctions than the Son of the Father, but the Son is closer to the Father's essence and the Spirit's equal dignity will be blasphemed as being inferior to the Son with regard to consubstantial kinship with the Father, because of two specific properties which distinguish the Spirit. Thus, the Macedonian insanity against the Spirit again springs forth; however, its revival will also recall the defeat of his impiety.

33. And if the One Spirit comes from multiple sources, how does it not follow that one could also say that only the Spirit has many origins?

34. Furthermore, if these people who with all temerity have innovated a communion only between the Father and the Son, then they have excluded the Spirit from this. But the Father and the Son are joined in communion by essence and not by any hypostatical property. Consequently, they exclude the consubstantial Spirit from kinship according to essence with the Father.

35. If the Spirit proceeds from the Son, then is the procession of the Spirit from the Father the same as the procession from the Son, or is it opposed to it? Because if they were not so opposed but were the same, then the hypostatic properties of the three hypostases in the Trinity by which they are distinguished and worshipped would be eradicated. But if the procession from the Son is opposed to the procession from the Father, how is this not like dancing in the chorus line of Mani and Marcion, whose blasphemous chatter and idle words contended against the Father and Son?

36. According to this line of reasoning, everything not said about the whole, omnipotent, consubstantial, and super-substantial Trinity is said about one of the three hypostases. The procession of the Spirit is not said to be common to the three, consequently it must belong to one of the three. Accordingly, we say that the procession of the Spirit is from the Father. — Why do they assimilate themselves to the love of this innovative teaching? — If they contend that the Spirit proceeds from the Son, then why do they lack the courage to vomit forth all their poison instead of some of it? For, truly, if they were completely persuaded by this ungodly doctrine then they ought to perfect their hatred of the hypostatic [personal] source of the processions and exclude the Father as a cause of the Spirit. And, likewise, they should transpose the begetting and the procession and they ought to remove the generation of the Son from the Father and transfer it to the Son and thus invent the fantastic idea that the Father is from the Son. But they do not say this because they wish to hide their eternal impiety, so that they may not be convicted of the insanity of their heresy.

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