The Fatherhood Chronicles LXXXV

What a morning. I woke–wide-eyed, mind-racing awake, mind you–at three a.m. My normal start is five a.m., but I needed to get up at four today to do some school work. So after laying awake for a bit, I realized it wasn’t going to do me any good to try to roll over and sleep for only another forty-five minutes, so I shrugged (mentally) and got up anyway. Yep, I’m suffering for it now. Just like I did on the over-hot bus this morning–I almost missed my stop from dozing!

But what a glorious, wonderful morning. It used to be great having daddy-daughter times in the mornings with Sofie. But on days like today, I get the double-dose. Glory.

It started with Delaina waking up about four. She was wide-awake, but wanted to be held. So I held her, said morning prayers, and she fell asleep in my arms. I wasn’t as attentive in my prayers as I try to be, but I think this once God understood and accepted my “inattention” as another form of prayer. So, I took Delaina back to bed, and then did some more work.

Then Sofie got up. She is a “get up and cuddle till I wake up” sort of girl, which I have to confess, Daddy enjoys. So she shuffled out of her bedroom about a quarter of six, hair scattered like Thing 2 (she calls the Dr. Seuss stuffed toy “Monkey”) which she held in one hand. She was all toasty warm from bed and in her fleece jammies. She lay her head on my shoulder with a “Lubby Daddy” and I melted, as I always do.

Yep. Who needs coffee when you’ve got daughters!

Archpriest George Florovsky on St. Gregory Palamas and the Essence-Energies Distinction in God

From Fr. George Florovsky, St Gregory Palamas and the Tradition of the Fathers (also here):

Actually the whole teaching of St. Gregory presupposes the action of the Personal God. God moves toward man and embraces him by His own “grace” and action, without leaving that φος απροσιτον [light unapproachable], in which He eternally abides. The ultimate purpose of St. Gregory’s theological teaching was to defend the reality of Christian experience. Salvation is more than forgiveness. It is a genuine renewal of man. And this renewal is effected not by the discharge, or release, of certain natural energies implied in man’s own creaturely being, but by the “energies” of God Himself, who thereby encounters and encompasses man, and admits him into communion with Himself. In fact, the teaching of St. Gregory affects the whole system of theology, the whole body of Christian doctrine. It starts with the clear distinction between “nature” and “will” of God. This distinction was also characteristic of the Eastern tradition, at least since St. Athanasius. It may be asked at this point: Is this distinction compatible with the “simplicity” of God? Should we not rather regard all these distinctions as merely logical conjectures, necessary for us, but ultimately without any ontological significance? As a matter of fact, St. Gregory Palamas was attacked by his opponents precisely from that point of view. God’s Being is simple, and in Him even all attributes coincide. Already St. Augustine diverged at this point from the Eastern tradition. Under Augustinian presuppositions the teaching of St. Gregory is unacceptable and absurd. St. Gregory himself anticipated the width of implications of his basic distinction. If one does not accept it, he argued, then it would be impossible to discern clearly between the “generation” of the Son and “creation” of the world, both being the acts of essence, and this would lead to utter confusion in the Trinitarian doctrine. St. Gregory was quite formal at that point.

If according to the delirious opponents and those who agree with them, the Divine energy in no way differs from the Divine essence, then the act of creating, which belongs to the will, will in no way differ from generation (γενναν) and procession (εκπορευειν), which belong to the essence. If to create is no different from generation and procession, then the creatures will in no way differ from the Begotten (γεννηματος) and the Projected (προβληματος). If such is the case according to them, then both the Son of God and the Holy Spirit will be no different from creatures, and the creatures will all be both the begotten (γεννηματα) and the projected (προβληματα) of God the Father, and creation will be deified and God will be arrayed with the creatures. For this reason the venerable Cyril, showing the difference between God’s essence and energy, says that to generate belongs to the Divine nature, whereas to create belongs to His Divine energy. This he shows clearly saying, “nature and energy are not the same.” If the Divine essence in no way differs from the Divine energy, then to beget (γενναν) and to project (εκπορευειν) will in no way differ from creating (ποιειν). God the Father creates by the Son and in the Holy Spirit. Thus He also begets and projects by the Son and in the Holy Spirit, according to the opinion of the opponents and those who agree with them. (Capita 96 and 97.)

St. Gregory quotes St. Cyril of Alexandria. But St. Cyril at this point was simply repeating St. Athanasius. St. Athanasius, in his refutation of Arianism, formally stressed the ultimate difference between ουσια [ousia, essence] or φυσις [physis, substance], on the one hand, and the βουλησις [boulesis, will], on the other. God exists, and then He also acts. There is a certain “necessity” in the Divine Being, indeed not a necessity of compulsion, and no fatum, but a necessity of being itself. God simply is what He is. But God’s will is eminently free. He in no sense is necessitated to do what He does. Thus γεννησις [gennesis, generation] is always κατά φυσιν [kata physin, according to essence], but creation is a βουλησεος εργον [bouleseos ergon, energy of the will] (Contra Arianos III. 64-6). These two dimensions, that of being and that of acting, are different, and must be clearly distinguished. Of course, this distinction in no way compromises the “Divine simplicity.” Yet, it is a real distinction, and not just a logical device. St. Gregory was fully aware of the crucial importance of this distinction. At this point he was a true successor of the great Athanasius and of the Cappadocian hierarchs.