Friday, January 21, 2011

Transfiguration, deification, vision

I was hoping to treat this last section more fully but this short summary will have to suffice. This will also be my final post on Orthodox Spirituality: An Outline of the Orthodox Ascetical and Mystical Tradition.

The glory of the resurrection is connected with another event in Jesus' life, the transfiguration. Some more recent Orthodox writers see in this event a foreshadowing of the transformation of the world. But even apart from them the transfiguration has played an important role in Orthodox spirituality. The hesychasts, particularly, believed that a similar transfiguration experience ("the light of Tabor") could be experienced inwardly by the mystics.

The transfiguration is linked to the concepts of deification and vision. Deification is the normal course of Christian life in which the soul is unified with God. The process may be continual or it may be interrupted by falls, but it is the path of all Christians which is perfected "when Christ has attained in him the stature allowed by God to the capacity of that man." Visions are often closely linked to the unitive life. They are not limited to "sensory visions". Also included are: inner or intellectual visions; "the vague and diffuse feeling of an outward or inner life"; "awareness of an atmosphere"; consciousness of the presence of God; "divine light of direction"; a prophetic dream. Visions are the "anticipation and reflection, however dim, of the vision of God in heaven" and a "participation in angelic life".

Eternal life will bring the fulness of vision, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known" (1 Cor 13:12). But, in this earthly life, every Christian, whoever he may be, can obtain at least a glimpse of the Vision. Some ray from the glory of God may be granted to him. These glimpses, these rays, are often given; far more often than we think. And it is only because of these gracious gifts that many who are heavily laden are able to live on. The Face of our Lord can be dimly reflected in the mirror of the heart of man. If the Lord Jesus calls us and says: "What will ye that I shall do unto you?" let us answer: "Lord, that our eyes may be opened" (Matt 20:32 ff). For a vision is destined to every man. And blessed are they who, at the journey's end, can say: "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19).

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About Me

I'm Rachel's husband and Darcy's daddy. I'm a Hoosier, an accountant, and an Episcopalian. Politically, I'm a progressive who believes in the preferential option for the poor. I use the blog as a sort of journal - to interact with my reading and sketch out ideas.