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Hexaemeron of St Basil: on the six days of creation


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#1 Theopesta

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Posted 06 May 2006 - 08:20 PM

Homily I

I am about to speak of the creation of heaven and earth, which was not spontaneous, as some have imagined, but drew its origin from God.

if the weakness of our intelligence does not allow us to penetrate the depth of the thoughts of the writer, yet we shall be involuntarily drawn to give faith to his words by the force of his authority

then st. basil develops in details who is moses who had written by the the Holy Spirit Genesis

It is this man, whom God judged worthy to behold Him, face to face, like the angels, who imparts to us what he has learnt from God. Let us listen then to these words of truth written without the help of the “enticing words of man’s wisdom”

The philosophers of Greece have made much ado to explain nature, and not one of their systems has remained firm and unshaken, each being overturned by its successor....they are sufficient in themselves to destroy one another.....It is because they knew not how to say “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

To guard us against this error the writer on the creation, from the very first words, enlightens our understanding with the name of God; “In the beginning God created.”

Then he adds “Created” to show that which was made was a very small part of the power of the Creator.

thus the Maker of the Universe, whose creative power, far from being bounded by one world, could extend to the infinite, needed only the impulse of His will to bring the immensities of the visible world into being.

“In the beginning God created”—It is He, beneficent Nature, Goodness without measure, a worthy object of love for all beings endowed with reason, the beauty the most to be desired, the origin of all that exists, the source of life, intellectual light, impenetrable wisdom, it is He who “in the beginning created heaven and earth.”

in ONE CHRIST, Theopesta

#2 Theopesta

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 05:19 PM

"Let us make man." "In our image." .....not in bodily shape, but in the proper qualities of Godhead....To Whom does He say, "in our image," to whom if it is not to Him who is "the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person," "the image of the invisible God"? It is then to His living image....
IN ONE CHRIST

#3 Theopesta

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 09:38 PM

about how the man is very honourable in front of GOD:

IV. ....Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.

V. Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God's for His sake, since He for ours became Man

#4 AndyHolland

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 01:11 PM

OK, I am going to throw out an opinion from a scientific type that may not be readily received - but please don't jump all over this too fast - please.

St. Peter prophesied in the Holy Bible:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.


As St. Paul might put it, we "know" from, 'a basic principle of the universe' that the universe is indeed 13.7+ billion years old. In fact, we can measure it fairly directly. But we also know thanks to a non-believer named Einstein, who built on a huge breakthrough work by a believer named Riemann - that literally even in chronological time, "be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

Also we have, 'let us create man in our own image.'

So how is this reconciled? It seems to me at least, that the "us" really is "us" - in the Divine Liturgy as in "give us this day our daily bread."

In the Divine Liturgy "with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" - and in that very real - real liturgical sense for liturgy is our ultimate contact with reality, the Universe really was/is created in seven literal days as are we in "us" - and this is not merely symbolic - but literal.

So we truly are there in Holy Week, we truly are there on Holy Saturday - therefore it follows, we truly are there when the Spirit is over the face of the deep, and the Lord says, "let there be light" - for the light of life is in the Word, and everything is made through Him and in the Divine Liturgy and Liturgical worship that is accounted in solar days - we are really and truly there when we dwell in Him and He in us. Therefore, there is no other way to express the reality of creation but as a seven literal day process - because that is reality in its deepest sense - not according to the basic principals of the world, but beyond them from whence they come from - in God.

-----
Permit an expansion - This is part of the Divine Humility of the Incarnation - to experience time as we experience time, so that all things are ordered by Him who is without beginning and without ending in accordance with the perception of His rational creaion - who experience time and life in solar days, and owing to the weakness of our flesh, pray in cycles of weeks. So the time of God is our time in the most simple, humble form that the common believer can experience time in. So St. Basil, who spoke of seven literal days was not incorrect, for being caught up in the time above time he could not distinguish between that time which is of God and everlasting and the time of the 'basic principals of the world' from which God frees us - even death itself.

andy holland
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#5 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 02:02 PM

OK, I am going to throw out an opinion from a scientific type that may not be readily received - but please don't jump all over this too fast - please.

St. Peter prophesied in the Holy Bible:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.


As St. Paul might put it, we "know" from, 'a basic principle of the universe' that the universe is indeed 13.7+ billion years old. In fact, we can measure it fairly directly. But we also know thanks to a non-believer named Einstein, who built on a huge breakthrough work by a believer named Riemann - that literally even in chronological time, "be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

Also we have, 'let us create man in our own image.'

So how is this reconciled? It seems to me at least, that the "us" really is "us" - in the Divine Liturgy as in "give us this day our daily bread."

In the Divine Liturgy "with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" - and in that very real - real liturgical sense for liturgy is our ultimate contact with reality, the Universe really was/is created in seven literal days as are we in "us" - and this is not merely symbolic - but literal.

So we truly are there in Holy Week, we truly are there on Holy Saturday - therefore it follows, we truly are there when the Spirit is over the face of the deep, and the Lord says, "let there be light" - for the light of life is in the Word, and everything is made through Him and in the Divine Liturgy and Liturgical worship that is accounted in solar days - we are really and truly there when we dwell in Him and He in us. Therefore, there is no other way to express the reality of creation but as a seven literal day process - because that is reality in its deepest sense - not according to the basic principals of the world, but beyond them from whence they come from - in God.

-----
Permit an expansion - This is part of the Divine Humility of the Incarnation - to experience time as we experience time, so that all things are ordered by Him who is without beginning and without ending in accordance with the perception of His rational creaion - who experience time and life in solar days, and owing to the weakness of our flesh, pray in cycles of weeks. So the time of God is our time in the most simple, humble form that the common believer can experience time in. So St. Basil, who spoke of seven literal days was not incorrect, for being caught up in the time above time he could not distinguish between that time which is of God and everlasting and the time of the 'basic principals of the world' from which God frees us - even death itself.

andy holland
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I think what you are trying to express is the heavenly reality even though I'm not sure I get your every point. This is not just God's reality as we sometimes think for example when we refer to the time called 'eternity'. Often when we refer to eternity we describe this as being timeless not being aware that even the word 'timelessness' with the Church refers to a kind of time, not the complete lack of it. One way to put this maybe is 'divine time' and from how I read your post this is what you are talking about and the experience of it.

Certainly within the Church we already begin to experience time in an eternal way. Mechanical time which is really fallen time is the measure of corruption for in it the past is dead while meanwhile the future is unreal until we experience it. In fact mechanical time has something very nihilist about it for the measuring point of reality, 'now' gets smaller and smaller the more carefully you measure it. It's like some sort of natural law of inverse proportions where the more you try to find this ultimate natural reality and measure it the more it evaporates. But that's only if we admit this to ourselves I think- there's some sort of confidence in scientific knowledge which covers up the experience of reality. Again the ultimate irony of modern knowledge.

In any case even though I'm not able to exactly follow your examples I do take your point of how the experience of eternal time is to experience real time. As you say within this time God really did create in 7 days not as something just allegorical where 1 million=1 but where God's day is revealed to us through the experience of transfigured time. And within the Church especially through the ascetic life and the life of virtue and faith we begin to live in this reality. Maybe in some way we scarcely dare to think about now we do share in God's time also- the saints seem to be in this reality at times.

And now it's about time to go commemorate the departed. If that isn't the experience of transfigured time I don't know what is!

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#6 AndyHolland

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 02:52 PM

Mechanical time which is really fallen time is the measure of corruption for in it the past is dead while meanwhile the future is unreal until we experience it. In fact mechanical time has something very nihilist about it for the measuring point of reality, 'now' gets smaller and smaller the more carefully you measure it. It's like some sort of natural law of inverse proportions where the more you try to find this ultimate natural reality and measure it the more it evaporates. But that's only if we admit this to ourselves I think- there's some sort of confidence in scientific knowledge which covers up the experience of reality. Again the ultimate irony of modern knowledge.

....

And now it's about time to go commemorate the departed. If that isn't the experience of transfigured time I don't know what is!

In Christ- Fr Raphael

Father Bless,

Is it correct to say mechanical time is fallen or our perception of mechanical time (including Riemann and Einstein and watches and measurement) is what is fallen? Or the pride that attends such "knowledge?"

The wise men followed the star because they were scientists, so it seems science is not useless in approaching or searching for truth and St. Gabriel led them along so that they also could share in the true worship of God. Of course, the scientists were following an anomaly - something above nature itself.

But fallen scentific types have to know when to consult the truly wise shepherds when we approach Jerusalem - so please forgive my impertinence shepherd, and please say a quick prayer for me a sinner.

Maybe its just all wrong and fallen, or bits and pieces?

andy holland
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#7 Father David Moser

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 04:25 PM

Andy,

I'd like to share a little bit from a talk that I gave a while back on the different aspects of the soul (based particularly on the writings of St Theophan the Reculse). The quoted section is specifically about the "intellective" or "thinking" aspect of the soul.

The function of the intellective aspect is to think. Sounds obvious, simple, almost not worth mentioning. However, it is important to consider what is involved in thought. When the mind first has an impulse from one of the senses of the body, thinking begins. The imagination and the memory begin to act. Imagination is the mechanism by which an idea or a sensation is “encoded” and given form and shape so that it might be manipulated. Much of the work of the imagination is expressed in language. Language shapes the thoughts much in the same way that a glass “shapes” the water that fills it. How an idea is available for later manipulation depends on how it is encoded in language. Those of you who speak more than one language fluently might be familiar with this. Thinking of something in one language may give rise to all kinds of concepts and potentialities that would never even begin to arise by thinking of the same thing in a different language. Language determines how it is we “encode” ideas in our mind, and to a certain degree determines the kinds of conclusions that we draw from a particular experience or idea. (This aspect, by the way, gives rise to a whole discussion about *why* we use a particular language or form of language in the services of the Church - but that is a discussion for another time). This “encoding” of experiences and thoughts is the function of “imagination”. Along with imagination, memory comes into play almost immediately. As soon as we experience something, memory begins recording it. Memory records both the “raw input” as well as the “encoding” provided by the imagination. This brings up the importance of what the fathers call “guarding the senses”. “Guarding the senses” is the act of being careful of the things to which you expose yourself. Any tempting image or concept that you allow into your brain is recorded there and even though your “imagination” or the higher mental functions associated with reason may reject the image and filter it out - that memory can “pop up” at the most unexpected times, especially when your resistance to temptation is weakened by other factors. It is important therefore to be very careful about what you allow yourself to see and hear and the kinds of sensations to which you expose yourself.

The imagination and memory, however, are only the “receiving department” for these experiences and ideas that serve as the raw material for the higher functions of thinking and reasoning. Once the mind gets ahold of these sensations and ideas, it begins to process them. The first step in the process is to ask questions - what is this, where does it come from, what does it do? These questions are the function of the intellect, whose business it is to reason, think things over and reach the necessary conclusions. The intellect, by the process of reason begins to create fully formed thoughts from the raw material. It filters out that which is useless, it combines those things which seem to fit together, it analyzes everything and then comes to a conclusion. This conclusion, or concept is the “thought” that is triggered by a sensation coming into the brain. Not every question though can have a definite answer and the mind makes “leaps of logic” and assumptions that yield opinions and suppositions. These opinions and suppositions are based on what “ought to” make sense and if we get too attached to our own opinion, it begins to appear to us not as an “assumption” but rather as indisputable fact - because of course, “what else could it be - I must be right, I couldn’t be wrong”

This whole process of making conclusions and opinions from the raw material of experiences and ideas sounds a whole lot like science. In fact that’s what it is, for the mind is the proper place of science. Science is the crown of the intellectual labor of the intellect. We are accustomed to talking about the physical sciences and applying the scientific method to things we observe in the world. There is also, among the fathers, the practice of talking about the spiritual sciences - especially the science of prayer. That is because our spiritual exercises produce certain observable results from which our mind can draw conclusions and develop principles. Science is nothing to fear or to reject since it is the natural product of the activity of the mind. But it is only a part of the whole picture, there is more to the soul than just the mind and more to truth than just science. Not only that we must also be careful that science is not based on simply “opinion and supposition” because then it may well draw incorrect conclusions due to a lack of adequate information.

Science requires a philosophical basis for the conclusions it draws - how it chooses to put facts together and how it chooses to interpret observations and information. Thinking also requires an external structure and “philosophy”. This external philosophy is the wisdom of God which is perceived through the spirit and which is handed down to us through the teaching of our Holy Tradition. Without this “structure” our thoughts would simply be an aimless string of conclusions with no real value or substance. As for those who reject the teaching of the Church, they have long sought to replace the wisdom of God with the foolishness of men in the form of philosophies or theologies which are the products of their own fallen reason and rationalization.


This doesn't necessarily address any specific point that you made, but as I read your comments, I thought that maybe this might help give form and shape to some of the ideas you were expressing.

Fr David Moser

#8 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 04:40 PM

Father Bless,


God blesses.

Is it correct to say mechanical time is fallen or our perception of mechanical time (including Riemann and Einstein and watches and measurement) is what is fallen? Or the pride that attends such "knowledge?"


Probably both since both our perception is fallen and, "the creation groans," due to our sin.

The wise men followed the star because they were scientists, so it seems science is not useless in approaching or searching for truth and St. Gabriel led them along so that they also could share in the true worship of God. Of course, the scientists were following an anomaly - something above nature itself.

But fallen scentific types have to know when to consult the truly wise shepherds when we approach Jerusalem - so please forgive my impertinence shepherd, and please say a quick prayer for me a sinner.

Maybe its just all wrong and fallen, or bits and pieces?

andy holland
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We have to be careful with what we mean when we use the word 'fallen'. We can mean 'unredeemable'. Bit I think the Church means, 'not yet redeemed.' Through Christ and our participation our job is to then transform this, 'not yet redeemed' into 'in the process of being redeemed.' But this depends on us at least as far as our time goes. It won't just happen on its own.

The redemption of creation awaits our participation. It & the time which governs it can be gradually transfigured or it can be become lifeless & cursed through us.

This I think is the only fruitful way to see how science, philosophy and other not strictly Church activities fit into our life as Christians. Don't look at these things as separate activities which have something useful about them. Rather recognize that within spiritual/moral parameters we pursue a life which can be illumined and lead to and speak of Christ.

In other words what is wrong is to think that these activities can have an autonomous life in themselves which leads naturally to Christ. Or one the other hand it is equally wrong to have the attitude that these activities cannot lead to Christ. What is needed is our Christian participation in the life we have been given. As they say, "redeem the time."

If any time speaks of this redemption of time certainly it is the upcoming Feast of Pentecost.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#9 AndyHolland

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 12:05 AM

Father Bless,

Thank you - that makes allot of sense.

Following what you are saying along the terms "To the pure all things are pure" - if we purify ourselves (theosis), then the universe itself is transformed - not from simply our "point of view" - but rather in a fundamental sense through our participation in the Divine?

thank you again

andy holland
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#10 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 12:21 AM

Father Bless,

Thank you - that makes allot of sense.

Following what you are saying along the terms "To the pure all things are pure" - if we purify ourselves (theosis), then the universe itself is transformed - not from simply our "point of view" - but rather in a fundamental sense through our participation in the Divine?

thank you again

andy holland
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I think this says it very nicely.

In Christ- Fr Raphael




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