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Multidimensionality of time, space, paradise, eternity and heaven


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#21 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 01:26 PM

The problem lies in the fact that the world, and many Christians, think that physical time (chronos) is all there is. Rational modern man accepts only what his rational mind and senses can perceive. But our natural paradisal state knew of eternity (aeon) which is spiritual. Because of the Fall, we, even many Christians, find it hard to engage with eternity. As a result we can only see things in their physical , material aspects. Worse still, we so identify ourselves with physical time that we consider our existence in it to be completely our natural state. So we lose all sense of the spiritual and eternal in things. Yes, as Owen says, we go to church, we cross ourselves, we drink holy water, we make the sign of the cross over our meals, and so forth. But are we really engaging with the eternal? Or are we going through the motions and hoping the while that our concrete circumstances and our experience of life in physical time will not get very trying?

#22 Ryan

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 04:23 PM

The term 'aeon' is to be identified with 'eternity'. 'Aidion' is used to denote 'everlasting'.


I have seen the term "aeon" used both in the sense of eternity and in the sense of an intermediate unit between eternity and time.

"The aeon is outside of time, but having, like time, a beginning, it is commensurable to it. The divine eternity alone is incommensurable: in relation both to time and to the aeon." - Lossky, "The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church," p. 102

#23 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 05:17 PM

What Lossky says is right. As I said above, time and eternity are created, everlasting is not. But I think aeon equals eternity and not something in between eternity and time. So we have time, eternity and everlasting. The patristic authority for this threefold classification is quite ample: St Basil the Great On the Holy Spirit, St Gregory of Nyssa Against Eunomios, St Maximos the Confessor Various Texts and De Ambiguis. True, St John Damascene attributes a variety of meanings to aeon but the simpler classification seems to me to avoid confusion.

#24 Owen Jones

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 06:56 PM

I always thought aeon meant age and/or world. Unto the ages of ages means a duration of immeasurable time. But it strikes me it still refers to time. Especially since it also means world, or cosmos. But I will hardly argue with St. Basil and ST. Maximos if they use it to mean beyond time.

#25 Vasiliki D.

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 10:45 PM

I wish to follow in Paul Cowens posting footsteps, a beautiful poem by Saint N.:

Once I bound myself to You, my love, all other bonds broke.

I see a swallow distraught over its demolished nest, and I say: "I am not bound to my nest."

I see a son mourning for his father, and I say: "I am not bound to my parents."

I see a fish expiring as soon as it is taken out of the water, and I say: "That is me! If they take me out of Your embrace, I shall die in seconds—like a fish tossed onto the sand."

Yet how could I have plunged so far into You, with no way back, and lived, if I had not been in You before? Truly, I was in You from Your first awakening, because I sense that You are my home.

Eternity exists in eternity just as duration exists in time. In one eternity, O Lord, You were in ineffable sameness and Your vesperal blessedness. At that time Your hypostases were the truth within You, for it was impossible for them not to be in You. But they did not recognize one another, for they were unconscious of their diversity. In a second eternity You were in Your matinal blessedness, and the three hypostases recognized themselves as such.

The Father was not before the Son, nor was the Son before the Father, nor was the All-Holy Spirit before or after the Father and the Son. As a man while waking suddenly opens both eyes at the same time, so did the three hypostases within You suddenly open at the same time. There is no Father without the Son and no Son without the Holy Spirit.

When I lie beside my lake and sleep unconsciously, neither the power of consciousness, nor desire, nor action, die within me — rather they all flow into one blessed, nirvana-like, indistinguishable unity.

When the sun pours out its gold over the lake, I awaken not as a nirvana-like unity but as a triunity of consciousness, desire, and action.

This is Your history in my soul, O Lord, interpreter of my life. Is not the history of my soul the interpreter of the history of everything created, everything divided and everything united? And of You as well, my Homeland, my soul is—forgive me, O Lord — the interpreter of You.

O my Homeland, save me from the assaults of foreigners upon me.
O my Light, chase the darkness out of my blood.
O my Life, burn up all the larvae of death in my soul and my body.



#26 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 03:31 PM

I always thought aeon meant age and/or world. Unto the ages of ages means a duration of immeasurable time. But it strikes me it still refers to time. Especially since it also means world, or cosmos. But I will hardly argue with St. Basil and ST. Maximos if they use it to mean beyond time.


I strongly suspect that at least in overall context this is a more correct understanding of St Maxmus' understanding of time.

I have read through the passage from Lossky and it seems confused.

Here for example is a quote from St Maximus:

I have tried to show by arguments from reason, from the Scriptures and from the Fathers, that none of the created things that move has ever come to rest, nor obtained the prize laid up in God's plan. It is impossible that those who have found the stability that comes from having their dwelling place in God will turn away from God. (Ambiguum 7- III)


In other words in terms of its telos, created being always has movement towards God Who is the fulfillment of its nature.

The stability of which St Maximus speaks then does not mean that this movement ceases. Rather it refers to how this movement is anchored in the undistracted focus of created being on its fulfillment which is God. In other words the movement of created being finds its stability- its 'rest'- in relation to God. Otherwise its movement is necessarily chaotic and destructive.

Thus:

for those who enjoy fellowship with God who is infinite and beautiful, desire becomes more intense and has no limit.


In Christ- Fr Raphael

#27 Peter S.

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 11:38 PM

Thus:

for those who enjoy fellowship with God who is infinite and beautiful, desire becomes more intense and has no limit.



I have read something similar, if it wasnt just that sentence. It seems that in heaven we grow in sanctity and always develops. But it never loses "focus" so it is another kind of development than in this world it seems. Maybe it is the way theosis is. But theosis is also possible before death, and I dont know about the ways of theosis. Love is always interrupted here it seems. Maybe Jesus is the only exception.

Peter

#28 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 05:58 AM

I infer from what I have read that theosis take place in the everlasting and so transcends both created time and created eternity. It cannot be otherwise if theosis is union with God, that is, partaking of His nature by grace, since His nature is obviously beyond His creations of time and eternity.

I confess that what I have never quite understood is the liturgical meaning of 'now and ever, and unto the ages of ages'.

#29 Paul Cowan

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 10:09 PM

I infer from what I have read that theosis take place in the everlasting and so transcends both created time and created eternity. It cannot be otherwise if theosis is union with God, that is, partaking of His nature by grace, since His nature is obviously beyond His creations of time and eternity.

I confess that what I have never quite understood is the liturgical meaning of 'now and ever, and unto the ages of ages'.


I understand it to mean (present, past and forever and ever.) God is the same yesterday, Today and forever. So why should we not acknowledge this in our verbage?

#30 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 12:38 AM

I confess that what I have never quite understood is the liturgical meaning of 'now and ever, and unto the ages of ages'.


Well, I believes it means the same as "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end" which would be the Anglican equivalent, yes?

World without end is, IIRC, a Cranmerian construction. The Latin would be as et in saecula saeculorum, which is "and unto the world of worlds" or "and unto the ages of ages". It carries a sense of the world beyond worlds, and the age beyond ages. World without end or the ages of ages means that realm outside space and time, which is why, in the Gloria Patri and in the majority our prayers, praise is offered to God and affirmed both in the realm of created space and time, as well as in the realm outside of space and time.

There are some interesting thoughts on Saeculum at Wikipedia.

Herman the Pooh

#31 Ryan

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 03:41 AM

To clarify things (or maybe just confuse them more), here's Saint John Damascene (whom Andreas mentioned earlier), in Book II, Chapter 1 of his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith:

He created the ages Who Himself was before the ages, Whom the divine David thus addresses, From age to age You are . The divine apostle also says, Through Whom He created the ages Hebrews 1:2 .

It must then be understood that the word age has various meanings, for it denotes many things. The life of each man is called an age. Again, a period of a thousand years is called anage . Again, the whole course of the present life is called an age: also the future life, the immortal life after the resurrection , is spoken of as an age. Again, the word age is used to denote, not time nor yet a part of time as measured by the movement and course of the sun, that is to say, composed of days and nights, but the sort of temporal motion and interval that isco-extensive with eternity . For age is to things eternal just what time is to things temporal.

Seven ages of this world are spoken of, that is, from the creation of the heaven and earth till the general consummation and resurrection of men. For there is a partial consummation, viz., the death of each man: but there is also a general and complete consummation, when the generalresurrection of men will come to pass. And the eighth age is the age to come.

Before the world was formed, when there was as yet no sun dividing day from night, there was not an age such as could be measured , but there was the sort of temporal motion and interval that is co-extensive with eternity. And in this sense there is but one age, and God is spoken of as αἰ& 240·νιος and προαιώνιος, for the age or æon itself is His creation. For God, Who alone is without beginning, is Himself the Creator of all things, whether age or any other existing thing. And when I say God, it is evident that I mean the Father and His Only begotten Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, and His all-holy Spirit, our one God.

But we speak also of ages of ages, inasmuch as the seven ages of the present world include many ages in the sense of lives of men, and the one age embraces all the ages, and the present and the future are spoken of as age of age. Further, everlasting (i.e. αἰ& 240·νιος) life and everlasting punishment prove that the age or æon to come is unending . For time will not be counted by days and nights even after the resurrection, but there will rather be one day with no evening, wherein the Sun of Justice will shine brightly on the just, but for the sinful there will be night profound and limitless. In what way then will the period of one thousand years be counted which, according to Origen , is required for the complete restoration? Of all the ages, therefore, the sole creator is God Who has also created the universe and Who was before the ages.



#32 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 12:56 PM

There seems to be some confused verbiage in the above track of discussion. 'The everlasting' is a theological non-starter: I'm very curious as to where this usage has come about?

#33 Ryan

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 07:12 PM

I'm curious about that as well; I've seen 'aidion' translated as 'eternity,' and not 'everlasting'. 'Aeon' is usually retained as 'aeon' or translated as 'age', not as 'eternity'. I'm pretty sure the Latins used 'aeternitas' to translate 'aidion.'

#34 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 08:56 AM

M.C. Steenberg There seems to be some confused verbiage in the above track of discussion. 'The everlasting' is a theological non-starter: I'm very curious as to where this usage has come about?


I was basing myself on what I had read - this, for example, from Prof. Georgios Mantzarides:

'The superiority of the everlasting over the eternal is incomparably greater than that of the eternal over the temporal. And this is only natural, since time and eternity are associated with the created world, whether sensible or supersensible, while the everlasting belongs to the uncreated and pre-eternal God. The everlasting, says, St Basil, is that which is "older than all time and eternity in its being".' [FN to Against Eunomios, 2, 17]

#35 Ilaria

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:06 PM

What then is time?

Fr Staniloaie said : "Time is the distance between God calling and man response"

in this respect, we may only witness what the saints and elders disclose to us; they live it and they can only "translate" to us in our language
it seems to me that, even created, time is losing its determination and value when man reaches God;
another elder, fr. Arsenie Boca, in the same manner " Time is the distance between ear and heart"

that's why probably neither st Paul nor St Andrew the Fool could specify whether they were in body or not;
that's why fr Sophrony witnesses that after long hours of deep prayer, the man falls down on earth and feels as dead...

only us, from "time" to "time", in a discreet manner,check the clock during Liturgy services...

#36 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:50 PM

Quite apart from our subjective perceptions of time, is there any objective sense in which time suffered from the Fall?

#37 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 10:19 PM

Quite apart from our subjective perceptions of time, is there any objective sense in which time suffered from the Fall?


I would have to say yes since time is intrinsic to the movement of created nature.

Man was attracted towards evil- his sense of time was immediately altered.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#38 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 10:32 PM

One thing I keep forgetting to mention is that our understanding of time has been altered by modern methods of measuring it. We need to keep in mind how recent an innovation this is and especially of how most every aspect of our lives has been geared to this. In terms of this discussion this modern way of measuring time gives us the sense that it is an object separate from ourselves. Probably this comes both from how we look to the mechanical devices which measure the time and also how this then focuses us on a standard external to ourselves.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#39 Peter S.

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 10:37 PM

Fr Staniloaie said : "Time is the distance between God calling and man response"

in this respect, we may only witness what the saints and elders disclose to us; they live it and they can only "translate" to us in our language
it seems to me that, even created, time is losing its determination and value when man reaches God;
another elder, fr. Arsenie Boca, in the same manner " Time is the distance between ear and heart"

that's why probably neither st Paul nor St Andrew the Fool could specify whether they were in body or not;
that's why fr Sophrony witnesses that after long hours of deep prayer, the man falls down on earth and feels as dead...

only us, from "time" to "time", in a discreet manner,check the clock during Liturgy services...


Dear Ilaria,

Thank you for posting this.

I learned about time and space at a philosophy course at the University, and heard some sayings of it at St. Tikhons the short period I was there

That time loses its determination and value when man meets God seems very plausible, more plausible than travelling in time-machines in causality, as one certain Lewis told was possible, as I learned at my philosophy course. : ) (btw I have sometimes a problem with living in the "now", thinking back, as if "fixing" what I have done/forgot to think, as an obsession. Its a kind of "temptation of time" or what I shall call it. Its demonic I think.)

One nice young altarboy in church is sometimes is checking the clock at liturgy, and I dont like that, but he is young. And I m checking too. That is worse. I have heard about liturgies that went on so fast that visitors didnt recognize the different parts of the divine liturgy. Maybe a problem of this age. I am luckily not used to that. Its a matter of right timing in celebrating the liturgy. Reading too fast or slow a.s.o.

I have an attraction to Dimitru Staniloaie, but I cant say I have read him. I know he died in 1993.

God is the object, and objective. Is there any writings about what God meant time to be? Is it only our different (fallen) subjective experience of time that is relevant for this? Was time part of the Fall at all? Was st Paul experiencing time as it should be in his prayer as written of above? I have read about desert fathers (and mothers) in "ecstacy of prayer" for hours, experiencing it as moments of blinks of an eye, ie. one story of abba Zacharias witnessing abba Silvanos in ecstasy. Abba Silvanos said he had slept btw.

Peter

#40 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 07:14 AM

One thing I keep forgetting to mention is that our understanding of time has been altered by modern methods of measuring it. We need to keep in mind how recent an innovation this is and especially of how most every aspect of our lives has been geared to this. In terms of this discussion this modern way of measuring time gives us the sense that it is an object separate from ourselves. Probably this comes both from how we look to the mechanical devices which measure the time and also how this then focuses us on a standard external to ourselves.

In Christ- Fr Raphael


This prompts me to think that modern time measurement is counter to a spiritual way of arranging the days, weeks and years. It's true, I suppose, that longitude was discovered and not invented, and time cannot unify us exactly - Pascha is bound to be celebrated in Adelaide before it is in Anchorage. The structure of the cycle of services is supposed to fit a different way of thinking about time than secular time. As we all know, the liturgical day begins in the evening near the end of the secular day. The diurnal round of services does not depend on dates. Sunday is the first day of the week and also the 'eighth day' but the European Union had decreed that Monday is the first day of the week - an obviously anti-Christian decision. The daily services refer to daily time but - significally - the Divine Liturgy does not. The Church year begins in September. (In England, this ancient custom is still reflected in some institutions: thus, both the legal and educational years begin in September.)




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