February 21

The Lord said to His disciples, “There are some standing here who will not taste death till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1); and after six days He took Peter, James and John, and when they had ascended Mount Tabor He shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light (cf. Matthew 17:1-2). When the disciples could look at it no longer or, rather, because they lacked the strength to gaze at the brightness, they fell prostrate to the earth (cf. Matthew 17:6). None the less, in accordance with the Savior’s promise they did see the kingdom of God, that divine and inexpressible light.

St Gregory of Nazianzos and St Basil call this light “divinity”, saying that “the light is the divinity manifested to the disciples on the Mount”, and that it is “the beauty of Him who is almighty, and His noetic and contemplatable divinity”.

St Basil the Great also says that this light is the beauty of God contemplated by the saints alone in the power of the divine Spirit; and again he writes, “On the mountain Peter and the sons of thunder saw His beauty shining more brightly than the sun; and they were privileged to receive with their eyes a foretaste of His advent.”

~St Gregory Palamas (Philokalia vol.4, pp.414-415)

February 20

All existent things can be grouped into ten categories, namely, essence, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, activity, passivity, possession and dependence; and these ten categories apply likewise to everything subsequently seen to pertain to essence. But God is supraessential essence, in which can be seen only relation and activity or creation, and these two things do not produce in His essence any composition or change. For God creates all things without being affected in His essence. He is Creator in relation to creation, and also its Principle and Master in that it has its origin in Him and is dependent on Him. But He is also our Father, since by grace He confers on us rebirth. Yet He is Father, too, in relation to the Son who is completely without any temporal beginning. The Son is Son in relation to the Father, while the Spirit is the projection of the Father, coeternal with the Father and the Son, being of one and the same essense.

Those who assert that God is only essence, with nothing to be seen in Him, fabricate a God who has neither creativity and energy nor relation. But if He whom they suppose to be God does not possess these properties, then He is neither active nor Creator, nor does He possess an energy; and neither is He Principle, Creator and Master, nor is He our Father by grace. For how could He be these things if relation and creativity are not to be envisaged in His essence? Furthermore, if relation is not to be envisaged in God’s essence, the tri-hypostatic character of the Godhead is also abolished. But He who is not tri-hypostatic is not the Master of all or God. Thus those who hold the views of Barlaam and Akindynos are atheists.

~St Gregory Palamas (Philokalia vol.4, pp.409-410)

February 18

St Paul has taught us that the soul endowed with intelligence can be as if dead even though it possesses life as its being; for he writes, “The self-indulgent widow is dead while still alive” (1 Timothy 5:6). He could not have said worse than this about the present subject of our discourse, namely, the soul endowed with intelligence. For if the soul deprived of the spiritual Bridegroom does not humble itself and mourn, and does not adopt the strait and grievous life of repentance, but is, on the contrary, profligate, sunk in sensual pleasure and self-indulgence, it is dead even while it lives and even though it is immortal in essence.

It has the capacity for what is worse, death, and likewise for what is better, life.

St Gregory Palamas (Philokalia, vol.4, pp.366-367)

February 16

States, conditions, places, times, and any other such thing are not literally but metaphorically predicated of God. But to create and to energize can in the truest sense be predicated of God alone; for only God creates. He does not come into existence nor with respect to His essence is He acted upon. He alone through all things creates each one. He alone creates from absolute nothingness, since He possesses energy that is all-powerful. With respect to this energy He can be referred to in relation to creation and possesses potentiality. For He Himself in His own nature is not capable of being affected by anything at all, but if He wishes He is capable of adding to His creations. For God in His essence to be capable of being affected, of possessing or acquiring something, would denote weakness. But for God through His energy to be capable of creating, and of possessing and adding to His creations whenever He wishes, is a token of divinely fitting and almighty power.

~St Gregory Palamas (Philokalia vol.4, p.409)

February 14

Since the Logos of God through His descent to us has brought the kingdom of heaven close to us, let us not distance ourselves from it by leading an unrepentant life. Let us rather flee the wretchedness of those who sit “in darkness and the shadow of death” (Isaiah 9:2). Let us acquire the fruits of repentance: a humble disposition, compunction and spiritual grief, a gentle and merciful heart that loves righteousness and pursues purity, peaceful, peace-making, patient in toil, glad to endure persecution, loss, outrage, slander and suffering for the sake of truth and righteousness. For the kingdom of heaven or, rather, the King of heaven–ineffable in His generosity–is within us (cf. Luke 17:21); and to Him we should cleave through acts of repentance and patient endurance, loving as much as we can Him who so dearly has loved us.

~St Gregory Palamas (Philokalia vol.4, p.373)

February 11

Many may blame Adam for being so easily persuaded by that wicked counselor and for rejecting the divine commandment, thus becoming the agent of death for us all. Yet to wish to taste a deadly plant before actually doing so, and to desire to eat of such a plant after having learned by experience that it is deadly, are not the same thing. The man who drinks poison knowing that it is poison, and so wretchedly causes his own death, is more culpable than he who takes poison and so kills himself without knowing beforehand that it is poison. Therefore each of us is more culpable and guilty than Adam.

But, you might ask, is that tree really within us? Do we still have a commandment from God forbidding us to eat from that tree? Perhaps exactly that same tree is not within us, yet the commandment of God is with us even now. And if we obey it, and try to lead our life in accordance with it, it frees us from punishment for all our sins, as well as from the ancestral curse and condemnation. But if we now reject it, and choose instead the provocation and counsel of the evil one, we cannot but fall away from the life and fellowship of paradise and be cast into the gehenna of everlasting fire with which we were threatened.

~St Gregory Palamas (Philokalia vol.4, 372)

February 10

Death was thus to become the lot of our forefathers, just as it lies in store for us who are now living, and our body was rendered mortal. Death is thus a kind of protracted process or, rather, there are myriads of deaths, one death succeeding the next until we reach the one final and long-enduring death. For we are born into corruption, and having once come into existence we are in a state of transiency until we cease from this constant passing away and coming to be. We are never truly the same, although we may appear to be so to those who do not observe us closely. Just as a flame that catches one end of a slender reed changes continually, and its existence is measured by the length of the reed, so we likewise are ever changing, and our measure is the length of life appointed to each of us.

~St Gregory Palamas (Philokalia vol.4, p.371)