Meeting the Divine Light – 17

Meeting God the Father in His Divine Light entails the vision, the contemplation “not of the divine nature . . . but of the glory of His nature” (Gregory Palamas, The triads). This is what is meant by the respective invisibility/visibility dimension of the essence/energies distinction of the Christian East, a distinction largely absent in the Christian West, with such a vision going beyond natural theology, cataphaticism and apophaticism.

The vision of the Divine Light is not restricted eschatologically to the next life, as so many seem to think. It commences in this life while we are still on earth, for those of us who are ready to accept it, with “a union and a divinisation which occurs mystically and ineffably by the grace of God, after the stripping away of everything from here below which imprints itself on the mind, or rather after the cessation of all intellectual activity; it is something which goes beyond abstraction (which is only the outward mark of the cessation)” (Gregory Palamas, The triads).

Meeting the Divine Light, therefore, from an anthropological perspective entails “a return of the human nature from its state of sickness . . . [whereby] grace is nothing but a condition for the normal functioning of this nature, inclusively for the body” (Untea, C. 2010. The concept of being in Aquinas and Palamas). It is a reverse of the hypostatical union, but limited to our participation in the Father’s Divine Light – His divine energies (energeia); not His essence (ousia). Moreover, those who attain the fullness of deification – the pinnacle of the process – “become thereby uncreated, unoriginate and indescribable, although in their own nature, they derive from nothingness” (Gregory Palamas, The triads).

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