Monday, November 8, 2021

Angels in the Teaching of Fr. John Romanides

- The time of the angels is in the ages without end, as angels are not restricted by matter. Thus angels move in intervals of time that do not resemble our own.

- Man has a slight conception of what time is, but he understands almost nothing about the ages, unless he reaches glorification and has spiritual insight, and sees an angel himself. Then he has experience of an angel.

- There is an interpretive rule that St. Basil the Great expresses very clearly: Wherever the Angel in the Old Testament is called God - because there are different kinds of angels, there are created angels as well - wherever the Angel who appears to the Prophets is called God, He is Christ.

- The Fathers of the Church not only say that the soul is corporeal - the soul is material - but so are the angels. Remember that well-known passage from St. John of Damascus that says that, compared with visible things, the angels are bodiless. Why do we call the angels bodiless? Because they are invisible. In comparison with God they are dense matter.

So the Fathers do not accept the existence of immaterial things. Only God is immaterial and immortal by nature; the angels and the soul are not.

- The Fathers explain that only God is immortal by nature, and man and the angels are not immortal by nature.

The teaching of the Fathers of the Church is, therefore, that the angels are material beings, at least in comparison with God. They are not purely immaterial spirits. This is based on the patristic teaching between 'created' and 'uncreated'. Only what is uncreated is by nature immortal: God Himself, Who is uncreated.

- Apart from the rational faculty (energy), the Fathers speak about a noetic faculty (energy). They made a clear distinction, saying that the angels are noetic beings, whereas human beings have reason (logos). Man has reason and the angels have nous. So the noetic faculty is different from the rational faculty. The Fathers of the Church continuously make this distinction.

If you want to look in detail at this subject you ought to read Dionysios the Areopagite who, when speaking about human beings, every time he says 'reason' (logos) also says 'nous', and every time he says 'nous' also says 'reason'. Reason and nous go together when he speaks about human beings. When he talks about angels, he usually calls them 'noetic beings'. They are 'noetic beings', 'noetic powers'. We are rational beings but also noetic beings, because we have both, whereas the angels are solely noetic.

- St. Dionysios believes in eternal motion, that perfection is eternal motion. He rejects immobility. He believes in growth in perfection, that even the Cherubim, the Seraphim, the Powers and all the angels are always ascending from glory to glory in ceaseless upward progress, despite the fact that they are glorified and behold the glory of God. In the Platonic tradition, by contrast, perfection is immobility and immutability.

In the Greek philosophers we find immutability as the fulfillment of human perfection. Whereas in the Father of the Church who is allegedly the most hellenising and philosophical of them all, we find ceaseless motion as the foundation of glorification.

- Not even angels know [the essence of God].
From Empirical Dogmatics of the Orthodox Catholic Church According to the Spoken Teaching of Father John Romanides, vol. 2, pp. 118-121.
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