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Life in ourselves?

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#1 Anna Stickles

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 02:11 PM

The most recent issue of the Orthodox Word is an extensive and excellent article on the fall and restoration as understood in Patistic theology. Under the section on "Loss of Grace: Spriitual Death" p 36+ there is this quote

"There is no longer a place for uncreated grace in a perverted nature where, accoding to St Gregory of Nyssa, the mind like a mirror turned about, instead of reflecting God, receives into itself the image of formless matter, where the passions overthrow the original hierarchy of the human being. The deprivation of grace is not the cause, but rather the consequence of the decadence of our nature. Man has obstructed the faculty in himself for communion with God, has closed up the way by which grace should have poured out through Him into the whole creation." Lossky, Mystical Theology

also Fr Raphael said in another thread -

"I would think that hell is eternal life without that uncreated grace that St Maximus refers to."

Here is problem number one that I see in this - To be in hell necessitates existence but how can we continue to exist without God's grace? Are we self-existent? It was this that orginally flipped my thought into the idea of created grace - not meaning that grace is created, but rather that there is a grace intrinsic in the act of creation, in the act of bringing into existence, that is something other then what is being referred to here as uncreated grace.

St Maximus talks about being, well being and eternal well being - are these different types or levels of grace and is what Lossky and Fr Raphael referring to here as 'uncreated grace' one of the latter two types?

In fact I read this from St Gregory Palamas

"The soul of each man is also the life of the body that it animates, and possesses a quickening activity in relation to something else, namely, to the body that it quickens. Yet the soul has life not only as an activity but also as its essence, since it is self-existent; for it possesses a spiritual noetic life that is evidently different from the body's and from what is actuated by the body. Hence when the body dissolves the human soul does not perish with it; and not only does it not perish, but continues to exist immortally, since it is not manifest only in relation to something else, but possessesits own life as its essence." Topics of Natural and Theological Science, 32

Now I've no idea how St Gregory is using the word essence here - I'm not familiar with his work, but it seems to me that only Christ possesses life in Himself and that even our soul exists immortally after the body dies only because God's grace continues to sustain it. To say otherwise makes us able to exist apart from God. Obviously I am not understanding either St Gregory, Lossky or Fr Raphael since they all seem to be saying the same thing.

In another place St Gregory says

"The death of the soul is when God leaves the soul and is separated from it, although in another way, the soul remains immortal. Once separated from God it becomes more ugly and useless then a dead body, but unlike such a body it does not disintegrate after death since it is not composite.

If God leaves the soul and is wholly separated from it how can the soul either continue to exist or continue to live, ie have any activity which obviously everyone's soul does have? And what does Gregory mean by soul - generally when I think of 'soul' I think of mind, will and heart - therefore something composite.

Help please.

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