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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.

57. If you wish, I can cite other sacred texts by which the bane of your dementia and madness is ridiculed. He [Paul] says many sacred things about the All-Holy Spirit: Spirit of wisdom (Isaiah 11:2), Spirit of understanding (Isaiah 11:2), Spirit of knowledge (Isaiah 11:2), Spirit of love (2 Timothy 1:7), Spirit of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), Spirit of adoption unto Sonship (Romans 8:15). He said, For you did not receive a spirit of bondage into fear, but a Spirit of adoption unto Sonship. (Romans 8:15) This Spirit is the never-setting and uncreated Light of Truth in the course of the Sun, and of all the earth. And again, For he has not given you a spirit of bondage, but the Spirit of wisdom, love, and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) And, indeed, it is also said, the Spirit of faith and of power and of prophecy and counsel, of strength and godliness and of meekness. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:13; 2 Timothy 1:7; Numbers 11:26; Apocalypse 19:10; Isaiah 11:2; Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 4:21) If a man be overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual restore him [sic] in the spirit of meekness. (Galatians 6:1) Thus teaches Paul, that fiery tongue of the Spirit. And what is more, he says, the Spirit of perception, for the sacred writings say, Behold I have called by name Beseleel ... I have filled him with a Spirit of wisdom and knowledge and perception. (Cf. Exodus 31:2-3) He is called the Spirit of humility, as when the children were accompanied in the fire, being moistened. We undertake in contriteness of soul and in a Spirit of humility. (Daniel 3:38) He is also called the Spirit of judgement and fire, indicating the vengeful and purifying power of the Spirit, just as when Isaiah cries, the Lord purifies them in the Spirit of judgement and the Spirit of fire. (Isaiah 4:4) He is also called the Spirit of fullness, just as when the prophet Jeremiah says, The way of the daughter of my people is not holy, nor into the pure Spirit of fullness. But instead the way of purity and of a Holy Spirit has not been fulfilled. (See Jeremiah 4:12-13) Why do you frown at these things: at the very gifts which He supplies and bestows? Is it because you would fight against a procession of the All-Holy Spirit from each of these as well? Thus, your ungodly doctrine outwits your own salvation by clever sophisms, even if you remain under your persuasion. For all that, everyone knows that the sacred writings proclaim the Son to be the Word and Wisdom and Power and Truth of God; and he who has been granted the mind of Christ knows as well that the All-Holy Spirit speaks not only about the Son, but also about the gifts which He has the authority to distribute. Thus, having an equality of mind, He acts as supervisor of the honour of Christ.

58. This means that your evil principle will enjoin you, nay rather even compel you, not only to say, the Spirit proceeds from the Son because it is said of the Son, but also that He proceeds from the understanding, from the gifts which are distributed, and from innumerable other divine operations and powers. Each divine operation will be known and worshipped as a source and provider of the All-Holy Spirit. Mainly, He will proceed from faith and from revelation, from the promise and judgement and understanding, because your evil is present in these statements. But by the very same reasoning, it is not very possible to call the Son by name in these sayings either.

59. But if the name Spirit does not mean the All-Holy and consubstantial Spirit of the Father and Son, but instead indicates spirits coming from the gifts, then the name of Spirit is distributed to those gifts which the Spirit offers. The pretext for this supposition is that since the gifts are referred to the Spirit and the Spirit distributes them, the gifts therefore assimilate the name of Spirit. How many have said this I cannot now say, but if this proposition is allowed to stand, then their lawless, inferior enterprise is refuted, because as soon as the gifts of the Spirit is said, then the new doctrine compels them to preach that the Spirit can no longer supply grace or understanding or wisdom or power or adoption to sonship or revelation or faith or even piety. Rather, they will be compelled to say the exact opposite, namely that understanding, revelation, piety, faith, and a sound mind produce the gifts: the very things which they must call Spirits. And they must say this of each of the gifts separately. Now, if indeed it is established practice to call each of the gifts a spirit, and if in the number of gifts the fullness of spirits is increased, then your own doctrine differs from Paul, who said simply spirit and gift, because your doctrine requires that the Spirit come forth and proceed from each of those very gifts. Therefore, will you increase each of the gifts or spirits, previously one, into two in order that one portion would be the dispenser and the other the dispensed, the one portion the cause and the other the caused? Then each gift could be caused and causing itself, produced and proceeding itself: faith by faith, understanding by understanding, and intelligence by intelligence. How much of your time will you thus consume by your nonsense!

60. This heresy only battles against itself. For the All-Holy Spirit grants gifts to the worthy. But, as it appears, since heresy is not content with anything, it is also not content with His distribution of gifts, and so divides the gifts into parts, in order that those who are ambitious of honour may have more numerous and richer gifts. Truly, the agitation and disorder of their minds undermines them so they overthrow and confound the order and nature of things. This first sowing of the impious doctrine gives birth to countless heresies. It has all these conclusions inherent in it. Yet, although the preceding arguments are sufficient to persuade these shameless ones who have not gone into complete impiety, we will not omit the remaining arguments. One must both refute those who have chosen shamelessness and to call back those inclined to error because those who suffer from this sickness will either be set free by one cure or another, or, due to depravity of mind, will choose to remain unhealed even though completely refuted.

61. Therefore, not even these points should be omitted. If the Son is begotten from the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Son, according to their own opinion, then how is it that this godless doctrine does not make the Spirit a grandson and thus drive away the tremendous mysteries of theology with protracted nonsense?

62. Behold the excessiveness of this impiety. If the Father is the immediate cause of the Spirit just as He is the immediate cause of the Son, then the generation and the procession are immediate, because the Son is not begotten through some intermediary and the Spirit likewise proceeds without an intermediary. But if one says — as this impious and idle chatter does — the Spirit also proceeds from the Son as if from the same cause, the Father would be proclaimed as both the immediate and remote cause of the Spirit, something which cannot be imagined even in a mutable and changing nature.

63. Do you see the manifold absurdity of this ungodly thing? Observe it here. In accordance with sacred theology and the laws of the incorporeal and supernatural essence, the Son is begotten from the Father simultaneously with the Spirit's procession from the Father. However, if the Spirit were to proceed from both the Father and the Son simultaneously (for a before and an after are alien to the eternal Trinity), then the former procession and the latter procession each belong to a completely different hypostasis. But if this is the case, then how are the distinctions of the causes and the divine operations maintained? And why is division induced against the indivisible, simple, and unitary hypostasis of the Spirit? For the hypostasis comes before the distinctions in energies and operations, especially because it is supported by the evidence of the superior and supernatural Word. It is easy to see and accept these many testimonies which refer to a distinct hypostasis producing various operations and virtues simultaneously, especially in supernatural things which surpass our intellect, but it is absolutely impossible to find a hypostasis which is due to multiple causes without the hypostasis having within itself the difference of the causes and being divided by them.

64. Besides all that is said above, if something is said of one thing in the Godhead, and if this cannot be observed to exist in the unity and consubstantiality of the omnipotent Trinity, then it plainly belongs to only one of the three hypostases. But the procession of the Spirit is in no part of the more-than-nature unity which is contemplated in the Trinity. Therefore, procession is understood to belong to only one of the Three. But the reasons for holding such a doctrine must be examined. The Spirit proceeds from the Son neither earlier nor later than the Son is begotten from the Father (for these adverbs of time are removed as far as possible from eternal Divinity, for the Son's generation and the Spirit's procession are simultaneous). If, at the moment the Son comes forth by begetting, the Son generates the Spirit by procession, then the cause comes into existence simultaneously with the caused. This is the fruit of their blasphemous sowing. Thus, while the Son is being begotten the Spirit would be both begotten together with the Son and proceeding from the Son. The Spirit will be begotten because He proceeds simultaneously in the Son's begetting, but He will be proceeding, because the dual procession is permanent. Who could be found to be more insane or blasphemous?

65. Behold, your sophisms and abuse of the words of Scripture thrust you into the pit of error and perdition. You see the saying he will receive from Him Who is mine and the expression God sent forth the Spirit of His Son, not only disagree with your blasphemous speech, but totally refute this great impudence, and will inevitably bring judgement upon it. Until that time, however, must we devote ourselves to refuting other displays of knowledge that may bring forth from their scheming mind of evil?

66. You bring forth Ambrose, Augustine and Jerome as well as certain other men as witnesses against the dogma of the Church, because you say they hold the opinion that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. They say, One should not charge the Holy Fathers with the crime of ungodliness: one either agrees with their opinions because they taught rightly and are acknowledged as Fathers, or they and their teaching should be rejected as impious because they introduced impious doctrines. These things are said by youngsters in fearful desperation, for the insufferable conclusions of their unprofitable impudence cannot escape in the face of knowledge and zeal. Not content with distorting the word of the Master and slandering the herald of piety, they deem the Fathers' zealous pursuits incomplete and then turn around and make their Fathers treat the Master and His herald with wanton violence, and then they celebrate this! However, the simple word of truth confounds them, saying, Take care where you are going, how long will you plunge your destruction into the vitals of your soul.

67. What sort of poisonous insanity compelled them to produce the Fathers, holy and mature men settled and established in the truth, as protectors of impiety? Thus, which of us sustains their rights as Fathers? The one who receives them with no contradictions against the Master, or the one who compels them to establish testimony against the Master's word, and who distorts by perverse sophisms the admirable teaching by which we theologise that the Spirit proceeds from the Father? Is it not evident that heresy attributes the name of Father to those memorable men only in words? For heresy does not begrudge giving the title of Father stripped of all honour, but through sophism, heresy chooses to drive the Fathers into the portion of impious and corrupt men. Do all of these ungodly men presume to honour their Fathers with such privileges?

68. Read through Ambrose or Augustine or whatever Father you may choose: which of them wished to affirm anything contrary to the Master's word? If it is I, then I insult your Fathers. But if you say it whilst I deny it, then you insult them, and I condemn you of insolence towards the Fathers. But, you retort, they have written so, and the words the Spirit proceeds from the Son are to be found in their writings. What of it? If those fathers, having been instructed, did not alter or change their opinion, if after just rebukes they were not persuaded — again, this is another slander against your Fathers — then you who teach your word [Filioque] as a dogma introduce your own stubbornness of opinion into the teachings of those men. Although in other things they are the equals of the best [Fathers], what does this have to do with you? If they slipped and fell into error, therefore, by some negligence or oversight — for such is the human condition — when they were corrected, they neither contradicted nor were they obstinately disobedient. For they were not, even in the slightest degree, participants in those things in which you abound. Though they were admirable by reason of many other qualities that manifest virtue and piety, they professed your teaching either through ignorance or negligence. But if they in no way shared the benefit of your advantages [of being corrected], why do your introduce their human fault as a mandate for your blasphemous belief? By your mandate, you attest that men who never imposed anything of this type are obvious transgressors, and so you demand a penalty for the worst blasphemy under the pretence of benevolence and affection. The results of your contentions are not good. Observe the excessive impiety and perversity of this frivolous knowledge! They claim the Master to be their advocate, but are discovered to be liars. They call upon the disciples to be their advocates, but are likewise discovered to be slanderers. They fled for refuge to the Fathers, but are found to cast down their great honour with blasphemy.

69. Although they call them Fathers — indeed, they do — they do not attribute to them the honour of being Fathers, but seek to discover how they may become patricides. They do not tremble at the voice of the divinely inspired Paul, whom they turn against the Fathers with great wickedness. For he who had received the authority to bind and to loose — and that authority reaches to the very Kingdom of Heaven itself and is both fearful and mighty — exclaims with a great, mighty and brilliant voice, But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you other than what we preached to you, let him be anathema. [Galatians 1:8] He who is so great a man, Paul, the never-silent trumpet of the Church, surrenders to anathema anyone who dares to receive or introduce any foreign doctrine to the Gospel, and he subjects to great curses not only others who would dare this, but also says it about himself; if he were seen to be obstinate, he urged equal judgement. He sets no limit on this fearful word of judgement but searches the heavens themselves. And if he finds there an angel with dominion upon the earth who evangelises anything contrary to the Gospel preaching, he suggests equal bonds, delivering him over to the devil. And you, who bring forth the Fathers to violate the dogmas of the Master, to violate the preaching of which the disciples were heralds, to violate all the Ecumenical Synods, to violate the godly doctrine preached throughout the whole world, do you neither shudder nor tremble nor cower at the threat [of anathema]? You make them your Fathers without living their life in yourselves. Not even the incorporeal nature of the angels, nor the fact that as pure minds they stand before the Master in devotion, allows occasion for appeal, because they are reduced to equality with earthly things [in being subject to the pronounced anathema]. You call Ambrose, Augustine and other good men your Fathers — alas, such ruinous honour! — but does opposing them to the Master's teaching make any more tolerable the condemnation for yourselves or on these men? For you neither assign a good reward to your Fathers nor repay your forebears properly for their nurture. The anathema will not pass through you onto those blessed men, because neither your sophisms nor disobediences nor impieties will be found with them. You bear the anathema on your own shoulders because you presume they partake in your impiety. With distinguished deeds, however, and with their whole voice they cry against the anathema which you would bring on them.

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