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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.

85. The Forerunner, in whom godliness was continually visible and resplendent, first gathered the faithful from his multitude and then initiated them into the first mysteries of grace, and so piety is seen as forever possessing the adornment of this doctrine. For he who is affirmed to be little less than superhuman, baptised the Fountain of Life and Immortality, the Master and Creator of all, in the world-purifying streams of the Jordan. Seeing the heavens opened — a miracle testified by miracles — he saw the All-Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove. Thus, seeing the unseeable, the true prophet of the Word cried, I saw the Spirit descending as a dove and abiding upon Him. (John 1:32) The Spirit, descending from the Father, abides upon the Son, and if you wish, in the Son as well, for a change of prepositions in this passage makes no difference. And the prophet Isaiah, expounder of almost equal oracles from above and declaring the prophecy in the person of Christ, says: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me. (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18) Now, having previously heard that the renowned Gregory and Zacharias said, The Spirit abides in the Son — for perhaps they will be more suited to change your shamelessness into fear — why do you not immediately think of Paul's phrase, The Spirit of His Son, in this regard? Had you done this, instead of fashioning that fantastic tale about the procession, you would have been raised up to understand. Is this not the proper meaning of the statement, the Spirit of His Son? For I am persuaded the reason behind the Spirit being said to be of the Son is not at all uncertain, nor is it said for the same abstruse reasons as your forced argument. It is said because He is in the Son. For which statement gives the meaning closest to that of the apostolic statements: the phrase, the Spirit abides in the Son, or the statement, the Spirit proceeds from the Son? Indeed, this latter interpretation is vulgar. For the Baptiser of our common Master trumpets the former, the Prophet Isaiah long ago foretold it, and the Saviour Himself confirms the exact meaning of revealed doctrine. Therefore, the godly receive this mystical teaching and faithfully teach what is set forth from that source. But you, rising from the murky gates of ungodliness, you contend against God by asserting that the Spirit proceeds from the Son, instead of preaching that the Spirit abides in the Son and upon the Son. The Spirit remains in the Son. Thus, it is said that the Spirit is of the Son, as well as for the reasons I have previously cited, that the Spirit is of the same nature, divinity, glory, kingdom, and virtue. And, if you will, the Spirit is in the Son because He anoints Christ as well: For the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me. (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18) It is also said because when the ineffable Incarnation came to pass, He overshadowed the Virgin and that ineffable Child came forth without seed. It is also said because He is of the Son because He also sends Christ: For He has sent me to preach the Gospel to the poor. (Luke 4:18) Therefore, by reason of one or more of the above explanations, how much better and more consistent were it for you to think and to say what I have said [that He is called the Spirit of the Son and the Spirit of Christ] rather than to dismiss such cogent and consistent reasons and to try to corrupt the dogmas of the Church with peculiar lies and vacuous fantasies. But let the renowned Gregory and Zacharias again come forward and cooperate with me in rebuking your teaching, for even the impost impudent of men have greater respect for reproof coming from one's own kindred.

86. If Gregory and Zacharias, although many years distant from each other, did not differ in the views about the procession of the All-Holy Spirit, and if the intervening sacred choir of Roman bishops who oversaw the priestly institutions also professed the same doctrines without innovation, being warmed by faith, but rather advocated the same dogmas, then not only these two poles, but those men between them kept, established and directed the same faith. (For by the extremes are the intermediate readily contained and simultaneously limited; they are thus united and take the same direction.) Indeed, if any of the men who preceded or followed these holy men were found to have turned aside to an alien doctrine, it is quite certain that he would have cut himself off from that choir and throne and high priesthood inasmuch as he had torn himself from their Faith, Throughout its life, this chorus has maintained the godly statements of the saints.

87. Are you ignorant of ancient things? Do you fear your fathers? Do you truly examine their doctrine? Recently (the second generation has not yet passed), Leo [III, pope of [Old] Rome, 795-816], another renowned man who was adorned with miracles, removed all pretext for heresy from everyone. Because the Latin language, frequently used by our holy Fathers, has inadequate meanings which do not translate the Greek language purely and exactly, and often render false notions of the doctrines of the Faith, and because it is not supplied with as many words that can interpret the meaning of a Greek word in its exact sense, that God-inspired man conceived an idea (the idea being conceived not only because of what we have just said, but also because of that heresy [the Filioque] now openly proclaimed without restraint, but then only being hinted at in the city of [Old] Rome). He decreed that the people of [Old] Rome should recite the sacred Symbol of Faith in the Greek tongue. Through these divinely inspired plans, he supplemented and redressed the inadequacy of the Latin tongue and expelled from the pious the suspicion of a difference in faith, pulling up by the roots the pollution then growing in the provinces of [Old] Rome. In the city of [Old] Rome, he posted notices and decrees that the sacred Symbol of Faith be recited in the same Greek tongue with which it had been first proclaimed according to the authoritative utterance of the Synods, even by those who used Latin in the mystical and sacred rites. Not only for [Old] Rome did he decree it, but also throughout the provinces which deferred to the high priesthood and rule of [Old] Rome. He sent sermons and synodical letters that everyone think and do the same, and he ensured the immutability of the doctrine by anathemas.

88. This practice was reverently maintained not only during his reign, but also during that of the praise-worthy Benedict, that gentle and forbearing man (as was befitting the office of archbishop) who was radiant with ascetical practices and who succeeded him to that arch-episcopal throne. But, he [Benedict] was eager to not be second in anything to him [Leo] in favouring and strengthening this practice, even though he was second in order of time. But, if later, this pious and useful practice of the Church was halted and undermined by one pretending piety with a tongue of deceit, he himself would have been standing prepared for battle. Such a deceiver would certainly have to hide his true thought and, although unable to endure that the awesome Symbol of Faith was on the lips of all, would not dare to oppose with bare head the excellent and God-beloved practice. However, it is not my task to recount abysmal crimes with detailed names. He accurately saw the rashness and exacted punishment for it. However (for he was silent, but not unwilling) he rejected it by his silence. It was not until the divinely inspired Leo produced these thoughts by God-moved foresight and action that anything was explicitly said. But they were already to be found stored among the treasuries of the chief apostles, Peter and Paul, from the most ancient times when piety flourished. There were two shields, upon which were engraved with Greek letters and words the often repeated holy exposition of our Faith [the Symbol of Faith]. He [Leo] deemed it right that these shields be read aloud in the presence of all the multitudes of [Old] Rome and be exhibited for all to see. Many of those who saw and read them are still among the living.

89. Thus, these men shone with piety, attesting that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, as did my John [Pope John VIII, 872-882, who signed the decrees of the Eighth Ecumenical Synod that met in Constantinople, 879-880 and agreed to prohibit the Filioque from the Symbol of Faith, ending the schism] — he is mine because, besides other reasons, he was more in harmony with others who are our Fathers. Our John, being courageous in mind as well as piety, and courageous because he abhors and casts down unrighteousness and every manner of impiety, was able to prevail in both the sacred and the civil laws and to transform disorder into order. This man, favoured amongst the Roman archbishops by his more-than-illustrious and God-serving legates Paul, Eugene and Peter (bishops and priests of God), who were with us in the synod [the Eighth Ecumenical Synod that met at Constantinople, 879-880], this grace-filled bishop of [Old] Rome accepted the Symbol of the Faith of the Catholic Church of God, as the bishops of [Old] Rome had done before him. He both confirmed and subscribed to it with wondrous and notable sayings, with sacred tongue and hand through those very illustrious and admirable men aforementioned. Yes, and after that, the holy Hadrian, his successor, sent us a synodical letter according to the prescription of ancient custom, sending us the same doctrine, testifying for the same theology, namely, that the Spirit proceeds from the Father. Consequently, those sacred and blessed bishops of [Old] Rome both believed and taught thus throughout their life, and they remained in the same confession until they passed from this perishable life to the imperishable. Which of these bishops of [Old] Rome, by life, thought or teaching, altered the profession of immortal life by saying the heretical and diseased word [Filioque]? Can those diseased with heretical sickness claim they drank the deadly poison of so great an impiety from any of the aforementioned without immediately becoming adversaries of those who triumphantly illumined Western lands with Orthodoxy?

90. Are you still unwilling to renounce this deceitful teaching? I have sung eloquent canticles taken from the utterances of the Holy Spirit. The All-Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of God. And the Saviour says, But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons (Matthew 12:28), it is by the Spirit of the Father (see Matthew 10:20). Now we are not the ones who speak thus, but it is again the same Fountain of Truth that says, the Spirit of the Father who speaks in you (Matthew 10:20) He is called the Spirit of God, for Isaiah exclaims, The Spirit of God will abide upon Him. (Isaiah 11:2) He is called the Spirit Who is from God, for Paul, the great herald of orthodox dogmas proclaims, But you have not received the Spirit of the world but the Spirit Who is from God. (1 Corinthians 2:12) And, But if you have been led by the Spirit of God, you are not in the flesh. (Romans 8:9) He is called the Spirit of the Lord, for Isaiah cries, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath anointed me. (Isaiah 61:1) And in many places Paul said, the Spirit of the Son (Galatians 4:6), the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; Philippians 1:19, 1 Peter 1:11), or the the Spirit of Him that raised Christ. (Romans 8:11) Again, Paul initiates us into the holy mysteries, saying, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying Abba Father! (Galatians 4:6) and the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus Christ will dwell in you (Romans 8:11) and You are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if any many does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (Romans 8:9) Now, when the Spirit is called of God, from God the Father, of the Lord, of Him that raised up Christ from the dead, and the Spirit of the Father, is it not clear that the same thing is meant by them as is meant in the statement that the Spirit proceeds from the Father? No one could be so stupid as to come into such ignorance concerning such simple expressions that he cannot easily see — at a glance — that, although each of these phrases refers to the same hypostasis, yet in the phrase the Spirit proceeds from the Father, the word Spirit conveys a different meaning from that in the phrase the Spirit of God, or of the Lord, or any other similar phrases mentioned. For by the verb, the former declares procession, but the latter phrases do not in any way do so. Though the latter phrases were uttered because the Spirit proceeds from Him, yet none of the words in these phrases indicate or supply any procession of the Spirit. This procession is plainly declared in Scripture, but this new procession is not. These texts, which say that He proceeds from the Father, give no explanation of the procession. For to say the Spirit proceeds from the Father is obviously different from what is indicated by the names Spirit of God or of the Lord and the like.

91. And yet, even if each of these phrases did signify procession, this would be in our favour also, since the divine utterance has certainly burst forth with the same divine words that the Spirit's procession is from the Father — for myriads presupposed the same thing, accurately perceiving that the Spirit proceeds from the Father — then why do they not simultaneously indicate that He proceeds from the Son? It is not possible to pretend these phrases possess such a meaning, for none of them say this, nor do they even imply it, because it is not once spoken of in any text, neither divine texts, nor in Spirit-bearing human texts, that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. If it is said, the Spirit of God, then this means that He has equality of procession and a first cause. He is consubstantial because He proceeds from the Father, but He does not proceed because He is consubstantial. Even if the phrases of God and of the Lord or any similar saying originated primarily and principally by reason of the procession, still other phrases such as Spirit of the Son or Spirit of Christ and similar phrases are attributed to various other reasons: that the Spirit is consubstantial with Him, or that the Spirit anoints Him, or that the Spirit abides upon Him, or that the Spirit is in Him. Therefore, even if we allow that procession is the principal reason why the Spirit is said to be of God and of the Lord and the like (although these statements still do not plainly declare such a procession), how then, is it possible to look for procession in the other phrases? But it is inevitable that they should seek for causes in these expressions, and thereby inevitable that the procession should be divided. For the more causes that are perceived, then the more they can sing the praise of the Spirit of the Son and of Christ.

92. You open your ears and mind to ungodly thoughts whenever you hear the phrases Spirit of Christ or of the Son. You ignored everything that would hinder your fall into perdition, and you ran headlong to what no one had ever been convinced to assert. It is said, the Spirit proceeds from the Father. The Spirit is also called the Spirit of the Father, and of God, and other similar expressions to which our discourse has frequently cited. But none of these former statements, save the first, indicate the procession. The Spirit is also called the Spirit of the Son and of Christ and other similar expressions, but nowhere is it stated that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. Since these phrases do not indicate the procession from the Son in any manner, then are you not utterly stupid and erroneous to assert these phrases mean that which no one, nowhere, by no means ever uttered? Indeed, even they who have undertaken to say all the insolence that can be said will not dare to assert that it is possible to find anywhere that the Spirit proceeds from the Son in the sacred words of Scripture.

93. You noticed that my writings said, the Spirit of Christ. Truly, it was said. It is not burdensome to be taught by Isaiah, or even better, from the Master's own voice and reading of Isaiah's words that the Spirit is upon me because He has anointed me. (Isaiah 61:2; Luke 4:18) So is there one Spirit of the Lord and another Spirit of the Son? But it says Spirit of the Son, not because of the anointing, but because the Spirit is consubstantial with the Son. And it says, Spirit of Christ (the Anointed One) because the Spirit anoints Him. For the Spirit is upon me, says the Truth, because He has anointed me. The Spirit anoints Christ, but in what manner do you understand that, O man? Is He anointed according to the humanity of the Word Who took its flesh and blood and became man, or according to His pre-existent Deity? If you say the second, then I suppose that you have said every rash insolence there is to say! For the Son was not anointed as God — away with the thought! — therefore, inasmuch as He is man, Christ was anointed by the Spirit. Accordingly, since the Spirit anoints Christ, it is said that He is the Spirit of Christ. But you go on to say, Because He is called the Spirit of Christ, He certainly also proceeds from Christ. But this in turn means that the Spirit of Christ proceeds from Him not according to His Divinity, but according to His humanity. And therefore, the Spirit does not proceed before the beginning of time, holding existence simultaneously with the Father, but only begins to proceed at the time when the Son assumed human substance.

94. Turn your mind and rouse yourself from your deception, O Man, and do not prove your injury and wound resistant to all cure. The Spirit is worshipped as being of Christ because He anoints Christ. But on this basis, your pernicious precept asserts that He proceeds from Him. Thus He must proceed from Christ — as the doctrine you glory in makes clear — not from Christ's Divinity, but from that which He took from us and commingled with Himself. Therefore, if the Spirit, as God, proceeds from the Son, from Christ, according to the humanity which Christ commingled with us, and the Spirit also proceeds from the Son according to Christ's Divinity — for such is the bidding of your precept — and if the Spirit of the Son and the Spirit of Christ are really consubstantial, then, logically, one must conclude that His human nature is consubstantial with the Son and indeed of Christ. For you would make Him proceed both before and after the Incarnation, yet not cast off His consubstantiality with either. Therefore, if the Spirit of Christ is consubstantial with the Spirit of the Son and consubstantial also with the Son's assumed nature — for you insist the Spirit proceeds from that which He took from us and commingled with Himself — then the Divinity of Christ is shown to be consubstantial with His humanity by inescapable logic. But now to prove this is to assemble a dogma against the Father Himself, with Whom the flesh of Christ is also consubstantial by the same reasoning. And what could be more impious than this blasphemy or more wretched than this detestable error?

95. But you still do not wish to perceive over what sort of abyss into which you are cast and into what pits of the soul's corruption you are buried because you are not willing to be persuaded by Christ, or His disciples, or the Ecumenical Synods, or a rational method of reasoning, or by sacred and eloquent testimonies to humble your mind. You are buried. Rather, you reproach the common Lord. You accuse the noble mind of Paul, but you accuse falsely. You incite rebellion against the Holy and Ecumenical Synods. You ridicule the Fathers. You banish the true thoughts and the true intentions of your bishops and Fathers and consign them to the devil. You dismiss any remedy, are dumb to rational thought. Indeed, you completely overwhelm your salvation with dubious and passionate preconceptions! But, instead of us, let our divine father David the psalmist and ancestor of God shout the Psalm to you, Understand then, ye mindless ones among the people; and ye fools, at length be wise. (Psalm 93:8, LXX) Otherwise, the common enemy of our race will cast great snares around you and your offspring, for he is like a roaring lion, walking about our souls. Flee to help, lest there be no one to deliver. (See Isaiah 5:29)

96. So, you have these outlines just as you requested, most reverent and learned of men. If the Lord ever returns the use of our books and secretaries to us in our exile, if the All-Holy Spirit inspires and permits us, soon you will also have the arguments developed by these enemies of the Spirit, these raving enemies of the more-than-good and Tri-hypostatic Godhead. Without a doubt, nothing remains which they have not blasphemed in their madness. Truly, you will have those whom they cite, from whom they produce the statements and proofs their writings contain, as well as their own treachery and deception in these matters. But, above all, you will have the unimpeachable testimonies of our divinely wise Fathers through which these wicked men are confuted and the mindset of apostasy is entirely driven away.

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