February 9, 2014

The Synthesis of the Triodion

By Protopresbyter Fr. Thomas Vamvinis

The entrance of the Triodion is an invitation to look a little better at ourselves. Not to enclose ourselves in our individuality, but to see clearly the roots of our individualism, entering into a process of education that connects interiority and sociality; an education that comes from the text called Triodion.

The composition of the Triodion, according to the philologist Vasilios Laourdas, "has an admirable unity and it is unfortunate that it is not a stable and lasting experience in our lives, either through an ecclesiastical perspective, or through studies of the synthesis of its mission." The same scholar further notes: "Not as a theologian, nor even as a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, but just as a studious reader I feel like I have to say that we are all missing out, having not tasted something of its deep and moving spiritual content. I think how many studies are written every year about the great works of the intellect, about Homer, about ancient tragedies, about the Divine Comedy, about Faust, and how much they have neglected the Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical texts that have not even till now escaped the hands of the specialists, the theologians and the Byzantinists. The Triodion, to cite just one example, as a synthesis is one of the greatest intellectual creations."

The text which I cited from was published in 1969, but it has not lost its relevance today, because the demand for a deeper acquaintance with the liturgical texts of the Church, will help us, among other things, better appreciate our cultural heritage, and this remains imperative.

He noted that nowadays there is a lot of information, but little knowledge. That's because the information is more journalistic and less scientific. Indeed, we are informed of those things directly related to our life and our country, but also of things that do not concern us at all. Of course, it is a matter of spiritual maturity for one to discern what we actually need, to understand what really concerns us. We usually remain on the surface of events. We do not think deeper. We confuse momentous tragic events with television advertisements and so we get an illusion of information. Therefore, while we feel informed, we become more and more indifferent to the common. Information does not contribute to mobilization, because it does not make us sensitive to the evil that exists in the world, nor does it help us acquire a sense of evil that exists within us.

While we know much, however odd, we do not know the little that is needed. We live in a perpetual noise that does not allow us to check our information and understand the causes and meaning of events. This is why we need the asceticism of hesychasm. Paul Evdokimov, in his own particular way, wrote: "Ascesis could be necessary rest, the discipline of regular periods of calm and silence, when man could regain his ability to stop for prayer and contemplation, even in the heart of all the noises of the world; and he could then listen to the presence of others" (The Struggle With God). Saint Gregory Palamas said: "Noetic hesychia is nothing other than the standing still of the nous and the world." In other words, the "stillness" of the external world is not enough. Moreover it is needed for the nous to be deaf to the noise of unfruitful thoughts, that do not allow it to engage "in that which is needed" - the knowledge of God, which is simultaneously our union with Him.

It is necessary, at least now that we have entered the Triodion, to try to live according to its spirit. To live the synthesis of the dialectic of the Triodion. According to Vasilios Laourdas, in the text of the Triodion: "Paradise is the thesis, Adam and Eve is the antithesis, and the synthesis is the Christian who is repentant and supported by Divine Grace."

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Η ΣΥΝΘΕΣΗ ΤΟΥ ΤΡΙΩΔΙΟΥ", February 1997. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.