NR. 4 – 2018

Rezumate Studii Teologice 2018.4

Arhim. Dr. Policarp CHIȚULESCU — Catalogul manuscriselor românești din Biblioteca Sfântului Sinod (III)

Summary: The Romanian Manuscript catalogue in the Holy Synod Library (III)

An investigation of the description of the Holy Synod Library manuscripts has brought to light new data, regarding the reading interests of monks and laypeople in our country, during past centuries.

This paper presents a few miscellanies created during the 17th and 18th century, containing lives of saints and some apocryphal texts. These volumes, calligraphically written, rather scarcely ornamented (which shows their destination as being strictly personal or communal, but not festive) come from the libraries of prominent cultivated Romanians, such as the academician and priest Niculae M. Popescu.

One very valuable volume is The book of verses useful for the soul, a compilation of poems authored by the first female poet of our country, the schema-nun Xenia. The manuscript was produced by this almost unknown Paisian nun, in the monasteries where she lived: Agapia, Măgura and Cotumba. Until now, only other volumes with poems by this nun were known, and the one in the Synod Library completes her literary and religious works.

In this article, there is a description of one of the most valuable Romanian manuscripts in the Synod Library: The Miracles of the Mother of God. The volume was created in the year 1720 by three copyists, the biggest part being written by hieromonk Stanciu at All Saints’ Monastery, the one who, we believe, saved the homilies of St. Martyred Antim Ivireanul from destruction, by multiplying them. For unknown reasons, the manuscript hasn’t been catalogued until now, thus remaining unknown to researchers. The Miracles of the Mother of God consists of an anthology of wonders worked by the Holy Virgin Mary, collated by the Cretan monk Agapie Landos in the 17th century. He published them in Greek, for the first time, at Venice, in 1641 in the volume The Salvation of Sinners (Amartolon sotiria) in which The Miracles of the Mother of God constitutes the third book of the work.

The monks’ interest in the work of the unending prayer prompted them to transcribe philocalic texts that could offer guidance. This manual multiplication of texts took place during the modern period (late 19th century and early 20th century), as indicate the few manuscripts copied by Romanian monks at Mount Athos.

An item that is very special is the Prayer Book of Maria Văcărescu. This book of collected prayers, copied in French thanks to the personal piety of a member of an old noble Romanian family, is a real gem – not only due to the multicoloured decoration of the pages, the precious binding with gilded silver ornaments that protect the pages, but also due to the family chronicle, recorded on a few pages by Maria Văcărescu.

All these manuscripts are especially important because they constitute stages of translation efforts in the Romanian language, sometimes under the influence of the school of St. Paisie from Neamț, of the texts that are essential to hesychasm. Our endeavour unveiled new data, concerning some prolific copyists, some unknown Romanian dwellers at Mount Athos and the first Romanian female poet and copyist, a situation rarely seen in manuscript tradition. We also address the manuscripts of renowned theology teachers of the 20th century.

Pr. Prof. Dr. Nicolae DURA — Cuvântul Domnului și rostirea omului azi

Summary: The word of God and the human communication today

Speech as an act of the spirit which articulates, expresses and substantiates thoughts, enables communication among people and their moral improvement, which reveals the ethical dimension of it. The act of speaking is vibrant and spirited because it is carried out by a living person. Speech creates and maintains spiritual life, in time and space, which in turn upholds social life and sustains its dynamics, strengthens and improves social interactions. The ability to speak defines the human being a „homo loquens”, a speaking creature, a „spirit endowed with the power of the word”. God has granted man the ability and need to communicate through speech. This is a feature of man as creature made by God, from whom he has the gift of speech. Only man, of all creatures, possesses the ability to speak. Speech is a fundamental constitutive human characteristic. Without this trait, as a speaking creature, man could not be a social being, able to live in community, and implicitly the very existence of society would be impossible. Speech is a profoundly human reality. Any utterance presupposes there is a man who speaks and one who listens. By virtue of speech, man is a dialogical being which grows and is fulfilled through the pedagogy of his encounters. Human communication and reality are closely interconnected. Speech is the vehicle that enables understanding among people. Man’s inevitable need to address his fellow people and answer them, demonstrates that speech is a medium for personal communication, originating from God. In its most elevated form, speech becomes prayer, liturgical utterance, preaching. It conveys the divine message, because it employs holy and sanctifying words. God has given us the gift of speech so that we may express our feelings, declare our thoughts, reveal the hidden treasure of our hearts. If we were made up only of soul, then we would communicate through thought only; but, because our soul dwells in the body, which covers and hides it like a veil, we need words and names to express our inner thoughts. The word is edifying when it is motivated by the sense of responsibility for one’s fellow people, when one regards the word as a dialogical reality, with God as its judge. In this light, the word can be seen as a trialogical reality connecting God, man, and one’s neighbour. We serve God by using the words properly. We should regain trust in the virtues of the word, and the sacred respect for its utterance. The word must re-claim its vocation and role as a means for achieving communion through communication. Christ, the Incarnate Divine Logos, the Source of edifying words, prompts us to speak for the edification of others. Whoever utters the divine words, receives and regards them as words from God the Word. Preaching the divine words is prepared by study and prayer, as well as the personal encounters with today’s Christians and fellow people. The words of the Holy Scripture and of preachers should address the concrete persons, living in concrete social contexts and times. The Church – the divine-human body established by Christ, our Lord – fulfills its calling on earth by bringing people together in the light of the faith, by lending a spiritual character to their interactions and communication, and by achieving the communion of all its members with God, today. It is our calling and duty to transform the cold, impersonal character of digital communication, into a warm, direct, personal, spiritual and edifying one. Digital communication may estrange, isolate or even diminish a person mentally and spiritually. However, this great discovery: digital communication, and the Internet, should be employed with discernment, moderation, vigilance and widsom. Priests should exert discernment in using digital media, so as to intensify the spiritual life of the devout Christians and to improve communication within parishes and dioceses. The Holy Liturgy lies at the core of the life of today’s faithful and priests. Participation in the Holy Liturgy cannot mean attending remotely, via the modern means of communication, but physical presence is necessary in order to partake of the divine grace, imparted in the Church through the Holy Mysteries.

Pr. Lect. Dr. Lucian Vasile PETROAIA — Despre lăcașul de cult ortodox. De la simbolism, la mistagogie

Summary: About the Orthodox place of worship, from symbol to mystagogy

In order to build churches, from the beginning of Christianity, the optimal architectural forms were sought, necessary for worship and other aspects of church life. For this, through cooperation, theologians and builders aimed to achieve a harmonious whole, which would serve this sacred purpose. From the III-IV centuries, faced with various heresies of the time, Christians were forced to expound their Orthodox teaching, to state it as accurately and clearly as possible. The teachings of faith formulated in the Ecumenical Synods are found not only in high theology, but are perfectly reflected in the structure of the place of worship. In the third century, the “Didascalia” demanded that the church have the form of an ark, reminiscent of Noah’s ark, by which the human race was saved; in the first half of the 4th century, the “Apostolic Constitutions” stated: “the edifice should be long, facing east, and be in the shape of a ship”. The reference to Noah’s ark, which is a symbolic prototype of the church-building, is significant for the Christian’s struggle with life, perceived in the hymnography as a swirling sea.

Archaeological remains and patristic descriptions show that in the 4th century the classical structure of the church was completed: altar, nave, narthex. Over time, additional elements appear in the structure of the place of worship too: the prothesis, the diakonicon, the exonarthex, the open or closed porch. Along with this evolution, supported by an architectural approach typical to Orthodoxy and made by the sacrifice of often brilliant builders, many Holy Fathers of the Eastern Church dedicated themselves to the theological-mystical analysis of the place of worship. Among the several Fathers quoted in the present study, we mention here, first, Saint Maximus the Confessor who, in his “Mystagogy” sees in the church the image of the spiritual world and of the sensible world, that is, the image of what falls, partially, under the incidence of our senses, but also the face of many of the heavenly mysteries that transcend the receiving power of the human senses. Saint Maximus emphasizes the cosmic significance of the church, as an icon of the whole world created, purified, transfigured in Christ: “the church has as heaven the divine Altar, and as earth the beauty of the nave”. However, Saint Maximus remains unique in Orthodox theology in that he makes a unique comparison through its structure – the church imagines man and man is a living church: “[…] The holy church of God is man, having as soul the altar, as mind, the divine sacrifice, and as body, the nave […]. But conversely, man is a mysterious church. Through the body radiates, as through a nave, the doing part of the soul in the fulfillment of the commandments through practical wisdom; through the soul he brings, as through an hieration, to God, using reason, in natural knowledge, the meanings detached from the senses, after he has removed from them, in the spirit, all that is material and unclean”. Also, Saint Simeon of Thessalonica highlights in his liturgical treatise the issue of the symbolism of the place of worship. For him, the church – place of worship has a threefold significance. First, it is the “icon” of the Kingdom of Christ in heaven: “[…] the church is the house of God, made up of inanimate things, because it is sanctified with the divine gift and with the priestly prayers and it is not like the other houses, but it is made for God and it has Him as an inhabitant and in it is His power, glory and Grace”. Secondly, St. Symeon calls the church the image of the Kingdom of God on earth, taking over the primary symbolism of the Noahite ship, which was saved from the flood. The ship is led by Christ Himself, “Who is the head of the Church, and the Church is His body” (Eph 5:23), so the place of worship is called “the image of the Most Holy and Living Church, namely, of the Body of the Savior, who built it for Him”. But the church is also the Kingdom of God in the believers’ hearts, which are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 3:16), “house of divine things, harbor and medicine of souls, mediator for prayers to God and organ of His Mysteries, remaining in forever steadfast”.

The study then goes on to provide a detailed theological analysis of the meanings of the Christian place of worship. The novelty of the approach consists in the fact that the highlighted meanings related to the component parts of the church don’t remain at the level of symbol but they are examined from a mystagogical point of view.

For example, the most important part of the church – the altar isn’t only the holiest place in the church and the space where certain services are performed (Liturgy, ordinations) or just a symbol of the vault of heaven, which covers the earth; St. Symeon of Thessalonica teaches that the altar, foreshadowed by the Holy of Holies in the ancient temple, “imagines the Holy of Holies, the highest of heavens, and heaven”.

An important element of the nave is the “pulpit”. In ancient times, this was a platform in the middle of the nave, where deacons uttered the litanies or read the Gospel. Some special ceremonies took place here, such as some parts of the coronation of emperors. Tertullian called the pulpit a “church tribune”. Another old version of the pulpit was the “exedra” or “analogion”, sometimes portable. In some churches there were even two pulpits, one for the reading of the Holy Gospel, another for the reading of the Apostle. Regarding the deeper theological meanings of the pulpit, it is known from the Fathers’ interpretations that it symbolizes the overturned stone at the door of the Lord’s tomb, from which the angel proclaimed to the myrrh-bearing women the Resurrection of Christ. Beyond the practical aspect, related to acoustics, the pulpit is high, to show the significance of the work of preaching the Gospel, but also to remind of the angel who stood above the Lord’s Tomb. Because it was in the middle of the nave, in front of the altar (as it is still found in the Slavic Churches, and today, being used especially for services with the bishop), the pulpit also represents the Tomb of the Lord.

In order to provide the semantic-mystagogical analysis mentioned, the study also addresses the ritual of consecration of the church, whose main parts it explains. The sanctification/consecration of a church is a service with rich significance. The Holy Table is often surrounded during the service (remembering the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit) and sprinkled with holy water (through which the grace of the Holy Spirit works). The Holy Relics that sit inside the Table represent the presence of the holy martyrs and their intercession for us. The washing of the altar table, regarded as gravestone, symbolizes cleansing, while the icons of the four evangelists applied to its corners show that the Gospel has been preached to the entire world (the four cardinal points). The white vestment of the bishop is reminiscent of Jesus’ shroud. The prayers in the service of the consecration of the church provide several very significant definitions of the church-place. It is “the house like heaven”, “the icon of the dwelling place of God”, “the icon of the most holy Church of God”, and “the icon of our body, which, through your praised Apostle Pavel, you have made it worthy to be called the place and body of Your Christ”.

In the symbiosis architecture-painting-liturgical cult existing within the holy place of worship, the delicate work of the Holy Spirit takes place, Who inspires prayer, “softens the heart”, “softens the stubbornness” and guides the steps of any man eager for Christ. The understanding of the mystical meanings related to the place itself, also facilitates the inner transformation of the humans, who in the church feels “like in heaven”.

Dr. Alexandru MĂLUREANU — Capitalizing on the Premises of Orthodox Gnoseology in Todayʼs Context

Summary: Valorificarea premiselor gnoseologiei ortodoxe în contextul lumii de azi

În societatea secularizată de astăzi, omul este tot mai însetat de spiritualitate, dar este ispitit și de diferite forme de gnosticism modern, de orientări scientiste și sincretiste, care încearcă ,,să-l integreze în absolut”, printr-un progres spiritual individual și prin diverse tehnici de autocunoaștere și de autoperfecționare, toate inspirate din spiritualitățile orientale. Formele false de misticism (precum astrologia, vrăjitoria, spiritismul, yoga etc.) sunt însă incompatibile cu viața duhovnicească a creștinului. La căutările existențiale ale omului contemporan nu se poate răspunde decât prin prezentarea, pe înțelesul lui, a spiritualității ortodoxe ancorată în Tradiția și în experiența duhovnicească a Bisericii Ortodoxe. Teologia ortodoxă nu încearcă să demonstreze existența lui Dumnezeu, ci posibilitatea întâlnirii, a dialogului cu Dumnezeu. De aceea, o întâlnire între gnoseologia patristică și epistemologia științifică necesită însușirea unei abordări interdisciplinare, în vederea mărturisirii lui Hristos, ca Fiu al lui Dumnezeu, afirmându-I astfel dumnezeirea și prezența reală în viața tuturor oamenilor care doresc să-L cunoască pe Dumnezeu. În procesul cunoașterii lui Dumnezeu, mistica nu este separată de asceză. Acest proces nu este pur intelectual, ci o adevărată întâlnire cu Dumnezeu personal, fiind o cunoaștere experimentală, care poate fi trăită în spiritualitatea și în cultul Bisericii Ortodoxe. Adevărata cunoaștere nu provine din rațiune și nici din simțuri, ci se întemeiază pe Revelația dumnezeiască. În vederea cunoașterii duhovnicești, rațiunea trebuie să fie luminată de credință și încălzită de iubire. În procesul de înduhovnicire, creștinul este dator să urmărească curățirea și luminarea minții, spre dobândirea discernământului și a cunoașterii duhovnicești, cunoaștere care presupune o experiență existențială, duhovnicească, personală și eclesială, care îl conduce pe credincios la sfințenie. În spiritualitatea ortodoxă, unirea mistică este realizată în cadrul rugăciunii, rugăciunea fiind comunicarea omului cu Dumnezeu. La adevărata cunoaștere se poate ajunge doar în stare de rugăciune, prin efortul ascetic de curățire de păcate și de dobândire a virtuților. Astfel, luminarea sau iluminarea din cadrul rugăciunii poate fi înțeleasă și în sensul de cunoaștere. Cunoașterea duhovnicească nu înseamnă renunțarea la cunoașterea rațională, care presupune raționalitatea creației, ci depășirea acesteia printr-o cunoaștere superioară, mijlocită de harul Duhului Sfânt, care Îl face prezent pe Dumnezeu, într-o relație personală cu omul duhovnicesc. Cunoașterea lui Dumnezeu printr-o viață duhovnicească presupune o stare de comuniune cu Dumnezeu, de unire după har. Dar această unire a credinciosului cu Dumnezeu reprezintă tocmai împlinirea scopului existenței: îndumnezeirea sau mântuirea. Cunoașterea lui Dumnezeu are o dimensiune trinitară, hristologică, pnevmatică, eclesială și sacramentală, fiind o cunoaștere participativă, care-l povățuiește pe om spre îndumnezeire, spre unirea cu Dumnezeu, în comuniune interpersonală. Cunoașterea lui Dumnezeu are însă și un caracter apofatic, rămânând o taină mai presus de cuvinte, o taină ce poate fi trăită în mod personal și experimentată în Biserică. Prin urmare, pentru spiritualitatea răsăriteană, accentul nu cade pe aspecte conceptuale, teoretice sau discursive, ci pe trăirea duhovnicească a credinței. Această spiritualitate are un caracter experimental, fiind numită și o spiritualitate a inimii. Spiritualitatea ortodoxă nu este una individualistă, ci una profund comunitară și comunională, indicând calea desăvârșirii personale, dar într-un context sobornicesc, fiind o spiritualitate eclesială. În acest sens, se poate vorbi despre o Teologie spirituală sau duhovnicească. În contextul provocărilor actuale este necesară promovarea unei viziuni complementare: de afirmare a corespondenței dintre natural și supranatural, a sintezei dintre apofatic și catafatic, precum și a relației dintre rațiune și credință, dintre raționalitate și taină. Părintele Dumitru Stăniloae a reușit să delimiteze gnoseologia ortodoxă de epistemologia rațional-scolastică, deschizând-o spre provocările lumii contemporane, într-o abordare interdisciplinară. Prezentând viziunea părintelui Stăniloae despre relația dintre Teologie și Spiritualitate, reflectată în cartea ,,Ascetica și Mistica Bisericii Ortodoxe”, putem înțelege că teologia sa este o teologie mistică, dogmele Bisericii fiind trăite prin asumarea unei vieți duhovnicești. Asumarea unei dimensiuni eclesiale a Teologiei este esențială în progresul duhovnicesc, deoarece implică posibilitatea cunoașterii lui Dumnezeu, ca expresie a vederii duhovnicești. Astfel, o abordare duhovnicească a cunoașterii lui Dumnezeu poate contribui la ferirea teologiei ortodoxe de pericolul secularizării și al auto-secularizării, valorificându-se astfel premisele gnoseologiei ortodoxe, fundamentate patristic și eclesial, în vederea actualizării și asumării lor în viața creștinilor care doresc să trăiască o viață duhovnicească, având certitudinea unei cunoașteri autentice a lui Dumnezeu.

Ierom. Drd. Hrisant (Alexandru) BACHE — Importanța temei rugăciunii în Luca 1-2

Summary: The importance of prayer in Luke 1-2

Prayer is one of the most visibly recurring themes in St. Luke’s writings, while his Gospel contains more such references than Luke’s and Mark’s. As we follow the narrative structure of Luke’s Gospel, his teachings about prayer appear intertwined with others major themes like the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel or the blessing of the poor and the weary, yet prayer is still seen as a significant topic in the author’s writing plan. One may easily notice that prayer is present from the very first chapter, pictured by the pious people praying (Lk 1:7-10), followed by the wonderful theological prayer of Most Holy Mary, Mother of God, known as the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55), and by the prayers of the prophets at the Temple (Lk 2:29-32 and Lk 2:37-38). After the birth of Jesus, prayer is depicted as an integral part of His private and public life (Lk 3:21; 5:16; 6:12-13; 9:18; 9:28-29; 10:2; 11; 18:1-13) and is gradually perceived as a genuinely assumed teaching (Lk 24:52), practiced by the early church (e.g.: Acts 1:14; 2:1-4; 2:42; 3:1; 6:4. et al.)

This study aims to demonstrate the importance of this major theme by analy­zing some of the most relevant examples from the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel. As part of a larger research project on the topic of prayer in Luke’s writings, this paper will surely not exhaust all the available operating methods based on the stated premises; rather, it provides a perspective on the paramount significance of the prayer theme in Lucan theology, giving other scholars an opportunity for further in-depth research. H. Conzelman’s observation which has dominated the space of biblical studies on Luke, states that Luke 1-2, also named “the infancy narrative”, is to be considered an integral part per se, and should never be obstructed by anyone venturing into the study of Luke’s theology, regardless of their topic.

From the first chapter I have selected Lk 1:7-10, known as the prayer of the people – καὶ πᾶν τὸ πλῆθος ἦν τοῦ λαοῦ προσευχόμενον; here we note the first usage of the word προσεύχομαι. As Geri Otto Holmas states in his paper Prayer and Vindication in Luke-Acts, after his lexical field analysis, including the semantic range, “lexemes of the προσεύχ-root are the most inclusive and most frequent terms for prayer in Luke-Acts”, with 19 instances in Luke and 16 in Acts. The image of a prepared Israel, worthy, religious, obedient, praying around the Temple as Prophet Zechariah was leading the service, is the image of an ideal holy people awaiting salvation from God, and this is why the manifestation of the wonders of God in the form of the angelic Emissary bearing the good news forms the beginning of the Gospel. St. Luke highlights the role of prayer right from the start, with this eloquent example of how prayer is always the conductor of revelation and the manifestation of God, a bridge throughout time, fulfilling the prophetic words said by God to Moses in Exodus 3:8-9, where now Gods hears the cry of His people and comes to deliver them, not from the hands of the Egyptians, but from the grip of sin and death, to lead them not to a land of milk and honey, but into His Heavenly Kingdom.

In this paper, The Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55), still a widely discussed topic among scholars (J. Dupont, M. Gourgues, E. Hamel, F. Roussseau et. ali.) serves a different purpose: its powerful deeply Judaic hymnographic content stands out as a masterpiece of narrative craftsmanship, outlining the importance of prayer acknow­ledgment and gratefulness. Two observations should be made: the obvious parallel with the prayer-song of Anne in 1 Kings 2:1-10, a prayer of confession of God’s mercy and justice in remembrance of the words of the prophets; and the manifestation of the gift of prophecy during Virgin Mary’s prayer, seen as a response to the words of Elisabeth, sprung out of the joyful state given by the presence of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the young Virgin Mary as the Mother of God – ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ κυρίου μου (Lk 1:43). Augustin George tackles a sensitive semantical issue and proceeds to justify the grammatical form of μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου, and why it is not in the imperative mood, and how this synecdoche substantiates the doxological nature of prayer, an idea I have appreciated and analyzed extensively. The patristic point of view should not be omitted; rather, it must be included since the spiritual meanings from the Holy Fathers’ commentaries fill a large gap in the current wes­tern exegesis. St. Ambrosius explains the meaning of Virgin Mary’s words: My soul doth magnify the Lord, saying that there is nothing a man can “add” to God, goes on to explain that God’s image can develop inside His creation, the reflection of God’s greatness can be magnified inside the soul of those who do good deeds and remain virtuous and faithful to Him, just like Most Holy Theotokos did. The second part of the Magnificat includes verses 51-54, a profound theological narrative structure with deep references to the Judaic tradition of the miraculous intervention of God in favor of His chosen people. Only this time, the meaning shifts towards an eschatological perspective considering that St. Luke writings are filled with foreshadowing insertions of the divine promises yet to be fulfilled. These verses have been thoroughly commentated on by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, and my paper includes his teaching, translated by me, mostly because there are no other exegetical interpretations like his: full of immersive spiritual meanings on account of his allegorical and mystical approach. Saint Theophilus of Bulgaria provides similar explanations for the selected part of Virgin Mary, and it was included here to add weight to the patristic exegesis.

In the third part of this paper, I have mentioned the doxological prayers of the prophets at the Temple, in particular, the prayer of Righteous Simon (Lk 2:29-32) and the prayer of Prophetess Anne (Lk 2:27). Both play an important role in St. Luke’s narrative structure: they validate the law of the recognition of the Savior of Israel, for it was known from the Jewish tradition that the Lamb of God must be publicly recognized and proclaimed by two legitimate prophets of Israel. So, the author uses these two religious figures of that time to validate before the reader that the infant presented to the Temple is truly the Word of God. Simon’s prayer or his Nunc Dimittis stands out as one of the most beautiful prayers of the New Testament; this doxological hymn contains the beseeching (νῦν ἀπολύεις) of one old, immortal – as far as Tradition goes – prophet towards an infant; him asking the Giver of Life to release him from the immortal bounds of his very old age. E. LaVerdiere provides a compelling argument for this scene, stating that St. Luke makes use of this intense moment to present prayer as the central axis for the work of God in the redemption and restoration of mankind. The second reference to prayer in this part of the study is made by the old widow prophe­tess: …ἣ οὐκ ἀφίστατο ἀπὸ τοῦ ἱεροῦ νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσι λατρεύουσα νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν (Lk 2:37). Here we have the first occurrence of the term δεήσεσι in the Gospel of St. Luke. The images of these two righteous people praying confirm this paper’s premise: that prayer is a major theme in Lucan theology, and that further research is needed to shine a light on the comprehensive implications of this teaching in the Christian tradition and Christian way of life.

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