The Essence and Energies of God—St. Gregory Palamas

Scriptures of the Triodion

Second Saturday of Great Lent

No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known.  John 1:18

 

Good morning Prayer Team!

Tomorrow, on the second Sunday of Lent, we commemorate St. Gregory Palamas, who lived from 1296-1359, and was the Archbishop of Thessalonika in Greece.  He wrote about the difference between the “essence” and the “energies” of God.  As you know, I am not a theologian, and I try to write “common stuff for the common person.”  The theology of St. Gregory Palamas is so deep and so rich that it is hard for me to understand, let alone extrapolate on.  However, his writings are important, and his thoughts on essence and energy are important because they have a pragmatic component.

No one can know the essence of God.  No one has seen God.  At a certain period of time, many people saw Christ.  Even those who didn’t believe He was the Messiah acknowledged that He was a teacher, a miracle worker, some even called Him a prophet.  There is no question that He was crucified on a particular date, in a particular place.  History affirms this.  So, for those who criticize the followers of Christ, we are not following a fictitious person.  History affirms the humanity of Christ.  What is the matter of faith and subject of debate is the Resurrection.  The Gospels tell us that Christ was seen on many occasions and by many people after the Resurrection.  This is the evidence that He rose from the dead.  As further evidence, people have for two thousand years believed this, have passed it down from generation to generation, have lived and have died for Christ and for Christianity.

So, going on the belief that Christ is our Savior and all that we have heard about Him is true, how do we know Christ, as well as God the Father and the Holy Spirit?  We know them not in essence, but we know them through their energies.  This was the main contribution of St. Gregory Palamas to the Christian world.

So, what are the energies of God, that we can know?  Let me offer a few examples.  We know God through the created world.  We may not know the essence of God, and how He created.  But we know what He created.  The sun, the wind, the clouds and the stars—these are energies of God.

We don’t know the essence of love.  We can’t hold love in our hands or put it in our pockets.  But we know how it feels to love and to be loved.  This is the energy of love.  We know that God is the author and creator of love, so in loving one another, we also come to know the love of God.

Grace is an energy of God.  We know what it feels like to be forgiven, to feel that a prayer is heard, to experience Holy Communion, after the gifts of bread and wine have been transformed by the Grace of the Holy Spirit into the Body and Blood of Christ.  This is another example of the energy of God.

When we are surrounded by nature, by love and by grace, then we are experiencing the energies of God and are surrounded by Him.  We can never know God in essence until we see Him face to face in heaven, but we can know Him by His energies.  They are all around us.

Beacon of Orthodox believe, the strong support of the Church and her teacher inspired by God, you are the ornament of monks, the unassailable champion of theologians.  O Gregory the Wonder-worker and boast of Thessalonica, the messenger of grace.  Forever earnestly entreat for the salvation of our souls.  (Apolytikion of St. Gregory Palamas, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)

Feel God’s energies through the grace that comes through prayer, worship, love, and nature!

 

+Fr. Stavros

Photo credit: St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church

 

ABOUT THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NETWORK

Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is a 501(c)3 and an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America . It is a recognized leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty-two years. We have worked to create a community for both believers and non believers alike by sharing the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. We have reached 5.7 Million People in One Week and we want to reach millions more!  Signup to receive our newsletter email: info@myocn.net.

Do you find it hard to keep focused on Christ when you’re on the go? OCN makes it easy! You can be inspired daily by the OCN programming from where ever you are by plugging into our ListenReadWatch Worship.  To learn more about emerging Orthodox leaders in our Community check out OCN 30 Under 30 Initiative.  It is an opportunity to show support for and invest in this next generation of trailblazers.

Much like public radio, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on the support of our listeners, readers, volunteers, and fans. If you are interested in supporting our work, you can send your sustaining gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website. Your gift will ensure the continued growth of this encouraging Orthodox Community by providing faith-building, free, high-quality programming. Give today to help you and your Orthodox community stay connected no matter the location.

donate now

ORTHODOX MOBILE APPS ARE HERE!

Click here to download the Spark OCN and Orthodox Prayer Book.

_______________________________________________________________________
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. OCN is on Social Media! Follow us on TwitterFacebookYouTube, Google+, PinterestLinkedIn and Instagram

 

written by
avatar
Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John…
Related Posts