Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Wounded by Love

We have been reading Wounded by Love, which we cited here. In the section of Elder Porphyrios’ reflections on the Uncreated Church, which is none other than the Persons of the Holy Trinity themselves, we see that the purpose of Baptism, our own baptism, is to make us members of the Uncreated Church, to permit us to enter in to the life, the spiritual life, given us by our reception of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, of the Holy Trinity. The peculiarly Orthodox characteristic of this doctrine can be seen in the visual and spiritual texture of that very famous icon of the Holy Trinity by St Andrei Rublev. This texture is reminiscent of the very famous remark of the agents of the Ruler of Kiev concerning the Divine Liturgy when they were sent centuries ago to Constantinople to examine Orthodoxy: ‘We did not know whether we were in Heaven or on earth.’ The peculiarly Orthodox characteristic of this doctrine, then, is that the Orthodox experiences this participation in the life of the Holy Trinity first in his baptism with the descent of the Holy Spirit, and, after that, in his life of prayer and, especially, in his prayerful participation in the Divine Liturgy. In his prayer and in the Divine Liturgy, the Orthodox enters into a transcendent dimension where he does not know whether he is in Heaven or on earth, or, more clearly put, where he is at the same time both in Heaven with the Holy Trinity, and on earth. This is a foretaste of the divinization (theosis) that will be consummated for every saved Orthodox Christian after the General Resurrection. Moreover, the peculiar characteristic of St Andrei Rublev’s icon of the Trinity is that by divine grace (surely no one would suggest that that icon is a merely human work of art) he has managed to portray the participation in the life of the Holy Trinity that the Orthodox experiences in divinization (theosis), beginning in the Divine Liturgy after his baptism.

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