August 15, 2018

On the Dormition of the Theotokos (St. Dionysius the Areopagite)

By St. Dionysius the Areopagite

(On the Divine Names, Ch. 3, Sect. 2)

Perhaps also, this is worthy of apology, that whilst our illustrious leader, Hierotheos, is compiling his Theological Elements, in a manner above natural capacity, we, as if those were not sufficient, have composed others, and this present theological treatise. And yet, if that man had deigned to treat systematically all the theological treatises, and had gone through the sum of all theology, by detailed expositions, we should not have gone to such a height of folly, or stupidity, as to have attempted alone theological questions, either more lucidly or divinely than he, or to indulge in vain talk by saying superfluously the same things twice over, and in addition to do injustice to one, both teacher and friend, and that we, who have been instructed from his discourses, after Paul the Divine, should filch for our own glorification his most illustrious contemplation and elucidation. But, since in fact, he, whilst teaching things divine, in a manner suitable to presbyters, set forth comprehensive definitions, and such as embraced many things in one, as were suitable to us, and to as many as with us were teachers of the newly-initiated souls, commanding us to unfold and disentangle, by language commensurate with our ability, the comprehensive and uniform compositions of the most intellectual capacity of that illustrious man; and you, yourself, have oftentimes urged us to this, and sent back the very book, as being of transcendent value; for this reason, then, we too distinguish him as a teacher of perfect and presbyterial conceptions for those who are above the common people, even as certain second Oracles, and next to the Anointed of God. But for people, such as we are, we will transmit things Divine, according to our capacity. For, if strong meat belongs to the perfect, how great perfection is required that the same should feed others. Correctly, then, we have affirmed this, that the self-perceptive vision of the intelligible Oracles, and their comprehensive teaching, needs presbyterial power; but the science and the thorough teaching of the reasons which lead to this, fittingly belong to those purified and hallowed persons placed in a subordinate position. And yet, we have insisted upon this with the utmost care, that, as regards the things that have been thoroughly investigated by him, our divine leader, with an accurate elucidation, we should not, in any way, handle the same tautologically, for the same elucidation of the Divine text expounded by him. For, amongst our inspired hierarchs (when both we, as you know, and yourself, and many of our holy brethren, were gathered together to the depositing of the Life-springing and God-receptive body, and when there were present also James, the brother of God, and Peter, the foremost and most honored pinnacle of the Theologians, when it was determined after the depositing, that every one of the hierarchs should celebrate, as each was capable, the Omnipotent Goodness of the supremely Divine Weakness), he, after the Theologians, surpassed, as you know, all the other divine instructors, being wholly entranced, wholly raised from himself, and experiencing the pain of his fellowship with the things celebrated, and was regarded as an inspired and divine Psalmist by all, by whom he was heard and seen and known, and not known. And why should I say anything to thee concerning the things there divinely spoken? For, if I do not forget myself, many a time do I remember to have heard from thee certain portions of those inspired songs of praise; such was thy zeal, not cursorily, to pursue things Divine.