Memory Made Clear and Serene

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An Orthodox Theology of Time – V / V -Conclusion

Time as Renewal: Growth unto Goodness in Christ. The concept of the liturgical Eighth Day. If time is the change inherent in being created then can we experience our life as other than a growth unto death? Can we experience life as perhaps, a growth unto goodness in Christ in His Church?

 

Therefore, let not a person be grieved by the fact that his nature is mutable; rather, by always being changed to what is better and by being transformed from glory to glory (2 Cor 3.18), let him so be changed: by daily growth he always becomes better and is always being perfected yet never attains perfection’s goal. For perfection truly consists in never stopping our increase towards the better nor to limit perfection with any boundary (Gregory of Nyssa, On Perfection, p.379)

Decay unto death can be renewed as a growth unto life in Jesus Christ. … Our everlasting God has come down into the broken temporality of time and renewed our memory in the saving event of Jesus Christ, God as Man and Man for God.

Memory needs to be healed not destroyed. Often the greatest difficulties in our lives are the result of being plagued by evil memories, which wound and lacerate us as persons. Indeed, we pray at Great Vespers that God will protect us “from vain thoughts and from evil memories.”An image exists for this ‘weight of memory’ at the end of the Purgatorio when Dante, after confessing to Beatrice, first drinks of the river of Lethe forgetting all the evil and sin of his past life then drinking of the river of Eunöe (‘good remembrance’ or ‘good mind’) and remembering everything but from the perspective of the grace and love of God.

Forgiveness, then, is a process of progressive confession and absolution where we gradually let go of the past (are freed from its chains) by confronting the past and then giving it up in forgiveness (forgetting it without repression) so that we can regain it back from Jesus Christ through His remembrance in love. This healed or forgiven memory is paradise regained, that is, “radical innocence” as Yeats termed the state of learned childlikeness after our dreaming innocence has gone through the fire of experience.

We are given this renewal of our memory, this reality of memory shining forth with the light of the new age of the coming Kingdom of God fulfilled once for all time on the cross (‘It is finished!’/’Behold I make all things new’), in the perpetual rebirth—perpetual Pentecost—of the Church in its praise of God. In praising God, the Church is given the gift of the eternal Memory of the Spirit whereby we remember the life of Christ as our very own thus redeeming all memory under the sign of His cross. Such ‘eternal remembrance’ renews the face of the earth and makes of it, as Schmemann put it, a “liturgical paradise.”

 

“Today, a sacred Pascha is revealed to us” or “This is the day of resurrection”or yet again “On Mount Tabor, O Lord, Thou hast shown today the glory of Thy divine form unto Thy chosen disciples”.

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In Christ, as the Lord of Time, is realized the ingathering of all moments in One Moment of what we might call an ‘eternal temporality’ and which Schmemann calls temps immobile, that is, the co-inherence or co-presence of each part of time to each other in the present, in Jesus Christ.

Christ is Himself the Lord of Chronos or time proper because He is the Kyrios Kairou, Lord of the appointed time of our salvation. In Him, our broken mode of temporality, chronos, is renewed and sanctified, ascending with Him to the Father and becoming a spiritual mode of time through its marriage with creaturely eternity (aeon).

But when He returns to us in His Body and Blood in the liturgy, which is both our ascent to God and His descent to us, we see that our new mode of time, eternal temporality, is something radically new to creation, sensible and spiritual at once, as it has partaken of the very mode of God Himself as everlasting Trinity (aidiotes), God before the ages.

Therefore, the central locus of this ingathering of time is our Lord’s anamnesis or His recollection of His own saving actions in the liturgy in which His living memory becomes life everlasting by renewing all time in the new age of His Kingdom. This Kingdom of Jesus Christ is the very same life we will receive at the resurrection on the last day. It has been variously described as the ‘eighth day’ or ‘liturgy without end’ and it is granted as a gracious foretaste to us. It is a sort of liturgical in-breaking of the life to come in our crooked and wounded time.

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Harrowing of Hades, fresco in the parecclesion of the Chora Church, Istanbul, c. 1315, raising Adam and Eve is depicted as part of the Resurrection icon

It should be noted that when, in Scripture, Christ remembers His own Body and Blood broken and shed for the life of the world, it is prior to the actual sacrifice. In other words, in Christ’s remembrance, memory is not merely retrospective, in that it looks back at a life of sacrifice, but it is also simultaneously prospective in actuating prophetically the sacrifice of the cross before it happens. 

Likewise, our Lord as our Great High Priest remembers us and all time before the Father in heaven when at the Anaphora on the Lord’s Day the priest says both retrospectively and prospectively at once: “Remembering this saving commandment and all those things which have come to pass for us: the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into heaven, the Sitting down at the right hand, and the second and glorious Coming.”

Christ’s memory is eschatological, a remembering of the future life to come. Thus the Christian life is one of memory eternal where we live in the liturgical ingathering of all moments by remembering, with Christ, the saving acts that have accomplished our salvation now and to come. In the Christian life lived as anamnesis, past and future converge in one another in the present moment of our loving memory where we taste of the new age given in our midst.

Eternal memory is not the destruction of the past as past and the future as future but their clarification and illumination in encountering each other in our present consciousness of Jesus Christ who gives us eternal life. To borrow a phrase from Berdyaev, “Immortality is memory made clear and serene.”

Christ, then, as our renewed memory effecting salvation has, as Schmemann put it, “power over time” because He makes time His own as its Lord and does not destroy it but burns away, with healing fire, its wounds, making it itself through contact with Himself insofar as “Eternity is not the negation of time, but time’s absolute wholeness, gathering and restoration.”

Source: Excerpts from http://www.bogoslov.ru/en/text/2668945.html

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The Sisyphus Myth

 

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An Orthodox Theology of Time – IV / V

Time as Woundedness and Time as Decay, Growth unto Death.  How do we primarily experience time as fallen beings? Do we experience it as change or, more precisely, mutability, that is, a growth unto death? 

 

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,/ Creeps in this petty pace from day to day/ To the last syllable of recorded time,/ And all our yesterdays have lighted fools/ The way to dusty death. […] it is a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/ Signifying nothing.” (Shakespeare, Macbeth, V.v. ll.)

 

First we experience fallen time as constant change or ceaseless movement in a cycle of death that can be seen cyclically in the seasons, which move in a circle like a snake swallowing its tail. Winter follows Autumn and Spring follows Winter just as death follows old age and old age is not the end, for out of our death comes the birth of our descendants. Thus all of time is a perpetual repetition of death since the moment that things come into existence, changing from non-existence into being, they straightway move back again from existence into non-being.

This experience of fallen time is what Pozzo, in Waiting For Godot, expresses when he cries furiously at Vladimir:

Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It’s abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we’ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that enough for you? [Calmer] They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.

 

Second, we experience fallen time as unending desire. Once we desire something it lacerates our whole being until we possess it and our desire for that thing is then satiated until the thing possessed tempts us into some new perversion and the vicious circle begins all over again. Man’s life, then, is like this vicious circle insofar as he is continually turning around while facing his own self like it was a household idol, as The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete puts it: “I am become my own idol, and have injured my soul with passions.” Luther expressed this fallen circularity of time well when he says that homo in se incurvatus or man is turned in on himself.

 

… St. Gregory of Nyssa  has a nice image to convey this hopeless cyclical perpetuum mobile. It is of a man fruitlessly attempting to climb uphill in sand and never making any progress. It is the spiritual life where one’s house is built not on the rock of Christ but on the sand of spiritual illusions:

“He [the passionate man] is like those who toil endlessly as they climb uphill in sand: Even though they take long steps, their footing in the sand always slips downhill, so that, although there is much motion, no progress results from it.” 

[Also, remember here The Myth of Sisyphus: The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.]

Third, we see time as decay in memory—Schmemann’s “evil time.” In evil time, we remember the past as perpetually lost like a ghost that must relive its own murder.  Thus we remember continually and cannot change the death of our spouse, our mother, our child, or worse, a moment of humiliation by our spouse, our mother, by us of our own child. We cannot choose our past, for deliberation is a mark of future action in the present, the choice between what we would like to have happened and what actually happened remains only an undying craving for another world, as T. S. Eliot acknowledged: “What might have been is an abstraction/ Remaining a perpetual possibility/ Only in a world of speculation.”(T. S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton”, I, ll.6-8 in Four Quartets).

Each of these faces of fallen time points to our fundamental need, in time, for time’s renewal in Jesus Christ.

Source: http://www.bogoslov.ru/en/text/2668945.html

To Be Continued

For Part V go to https://orthodoxcityhermit.com/2015/12/18/memory-made-clear-and-serene/

Carpe Diem and Christmas

 

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Carpe Diem:  Kairos Moments In Our Chronos

An Orthodox Theology of Time – III / V

Everything we do is marked by the steady march of time. Seconds lead to minutes to hours to days to weeks to years to decades to centuries.

The problem for all of us is that the clock is always running the wrong way, and we simply cannot stop its precipitous crawl toward the next tick. We lose moments to the past, out of our reach, never to be regained.

Where did all the years go?

The kids have grown and gone. We’re muddling along in a career, making a living, just existing out of habit more than anything.

Did I miss out on my chance to make a difference?

The Greek language has a couple of words that mean “time.” The first is most familiarchronos . It means the chronology of days, governed by the carefully calculated earths’ sweep around the sun. God himself ordained this measurement of days on the fourth day of Creation, spinning the heavenly lights “for seasons, and for days and years.”

Boy, do I know about time. The wrinkles etched on my face; the wrinkles etched on my heart are the visual reminders of chronos.

But another word for time is also used in the New Testament—kairos . This speaks more to specific, God-ordained times throughout history, sometimes called the “right time” or “appointed season” (Titus 1:3).  Kairos is God’s dimension—one not marked by the past, the present, or the future.

When Jesus came, it was a fulfillment of promises past, a cosmic collision of the sacred and secular. It was an intersection of the holy will of God and the stubborn ways of man.It was a perfect moment.  John the Baptist said in Mark 1:15 that “time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” 

This godly kairos pierced its way into creation at just the right time, slicing through chronos with a cry of a baby in a manger.

The cross was another kairos moment. Romans 5:6 says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.”

Kairos moments then—and now—allow us to get a glimpse of the “other side.” We peek around the corner at eternity. We actually glimpse how God works.

As the omniscient, omnipresent Deity, God is not bound by the confines of space or time. That’s why He flows into our existence when we least expect Him. When we ask for something right away, it might not always come. Or when we don’t ask at all. But he shows up. It can be frustrating, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years.”  It can also be surprising “a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet 3:8).

We should always live our days looking for those moments, those inexplicable times when His will and his way intersect with our daily walks.

And they can happen anytime! A friend calls you out of the blue to give a good word. A child’s innocent joy pierces a long, hard day of struggle. A coworker takes a moment to lend a hand.

God is always surprising us with his perfect, kairos timing.
Am I ready, waiting, and watching for him to move in my life?

Source: Living a Kairos Life in a Chronos World, By DAVID RUPERT MAY 22, 2009 at http://www.thehighcalling.org/articles/essay/living-kairos-life-chronos-world

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Hebrews 3

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,

Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness

13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day

15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

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To Be Continued

For Part II go to https://orthodoxcityhermit.com/2015/12/18/4441/

For Part IV go to https://orthodoxcityhermit.com/2015/12/18/woundedness-the-sisyphus-myth/

Christ(mas) Healing of Chronos, Kairos, and Aeon

An Orthodox Theology of Time – II / V

 

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The Persistence of Memory – Salvador Dali

Nature of Time: What is time? What is its relation to God’s mode of being? Time as understood in its relation to the Church as a receptacle of the eternal Kingdom of God.

 

“What is time? Who can explain this easily and briefly? Who can comprehend this even in thought so as to articulate the answer in words?

Yet what do we speak of, in our familiar everyday conversation, more than of time?

We surely know what we mean when we speak of it.

We also know what is meant when we hear someone else taking about it.

What then is time? Provided that no one asks me, I know.

If I want to explain it to an inquirer, I do not know”

 

(Augustine’s Confessions,11.14.17, p. 230)

Some Fathers, including Sts. Basil the Great and Maximus the Confessor, spoke of three modes of being (i.e. time (chronos), age or creaturely eternity (aeon) and the everlasting or uncreated eternity (aidios, aidiotes) and sometimes … proaionios or the pre-eternal which is ateleutetos or without an end)), not just the two of time and eternity.

 

…First, everlastingness or everexistingness (aidiotes)  is the mode of being only of God, who is utterly beyond the distinction between time and creaturely eternity, being and non-being, since He is the pre-eternal (proaionios) God who is “endless” in the sense of being beyond duration. Everlastingness is essentially a negative or apophatic category emphasizing God’s unknowableness.

 

God is indefinable as the ho pro aionon Theos (Slavonic: prevechnyi Bog) which can be translated as ‘the pre-eternal God’ or ‘God before the ages.’ As the Kontakion of Christmas puts it:

 

Today the Virgin gives birth to him who is above all being [ton huperousion], and the earth offers the cave to him whom no one can approach; Angels with Shepherds give glory, while Magi journey with a star, for to us there has been born a little child, God before the ages [ho pro aionon Theos].

 

Second, we have creaturely eternity/age (aion–aionios), which is the creaturely mode of being of the supra-cosmic or spiritual creation of God—angels. [Human beings too. Both Angels and humans are eternal, because although they were created in Time, they do not have an end]. This mode of being is not one that excludes change but it is not bound by the distinctions of our present time’s version of change. The past is not utterly past but it is contained in the present as is the future and the future in the past and the past in the future so that eternity is a sort of perichoretic version of time. This, I would argue, is what Schmemann was getting at when he wrote that points in time can be gathered together and encountered simultaneously:

“In an instant, not only are all such breaths of happiness remembered but they are present and alive—that Holy Saturday in Paris when I was a young man—and many such ‘breaks.’ It seems to me that eternity might be not the stopping of time, but precisely its resurrection and gathering.”

 

Moreover, there is in the Kingdom of God, which is an eternal Kingdom not of this world, an enduring quality of being where one forever praises God from one moment to the next—a sort of sempiternal or eternal duration—without in any way being trapped in growing old or being trapped in the inexperience of youth. In such eternal duration, the goodness of God is always desired and always held in its fullness at the same time as that goodness continually increases our capacity and desire for it although we never possess this goodness in its fullness.

 

 

Time in physical creation, as we now experience it under the weight of sin, is understood as a reality with a strict division between past, present and future where the person in time, who has turned his back on God’s grace in Jesus Christ, is prevented from being present to more than one division at once. Thus when I err under the weight of sin I cannot be present to here and there at once since I am bound to here.

 

… Christ heals our time (chronos), and indeed the time of the invisible creation (aeon), by making it His time of opportunity for our salvation in Him (kairos).

 

Time, as Christ’s time, becomes a means to our perfection in Him rather than the ultimate expression of our rejection of God’s grace. Through Him in His Body the Church we come to partake in the mode of being of the invisible creation, creaturely eternity, but this eternity or time of the invisible creation becomes wedded with our sensible time, remade for an embodied being like man, through participating in the everlasting life of God. Time is, therefore, remade and renewed in the Church as the Kingdom of God and we have a foretaste of this renewal in the liturgy.

[Chronos, Kairos and Eternity, or, Agape. Because Eternity is Hypostatical Agape in God]

 

Source: Excerpts from Gallaher, Brandon ‘s Orthodox Theology of Time at https://www.academia.edu/3561108/Chalice_of_Eternity_An_Orthodox_Theology_of_Time_St_Vladimirs_Theological_Quarterly_57.1_2013_pp.5-35

To Be Continued …

For Part I go to https://orthodoxcityhermit.com/2015/12/18/chalice-of-eternity/

For Part III go to https://orthodoxcityhermit.com/2015/12/18/4497/

Chalice of Eternity

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Time, or the Art of Deception: 1990 
Time stands still in this surrealist composition.The water and the metronome are suspended as if Time had just stopped – yet might start again, a moment later.

An Orthodox Theology of Time -I / V

“This morning during Matins I had a ‘jolt of happiness, of fullness of life, and at the same time the thought: I will have to die! But in such a fleeting breath of happiness, time usually ‘gathers’ itself. In an instant, not only are all such breaths of happiness remembered but they are present and alive—that Holy Saturday in Paris when I was a young man—and many such ‘breaks.’ It seems to me that eternity might be not the stopping of time, but precisely its resurrection and gathering. The fragmentation of time, its division, is the fall of eternity. Maybe the words of Christ are about time when He said: ‘…not to destroy anything but will raise it all on the last day.’ The thirst for solitude, peace, freedom, is thirst for the liberation of time from cumbersome dead bodies, from hustle; thirst for the transformation of time into what it should be—the receptacle, the chalice of eternity. Liturgy is the conversion of time, its filling with eternity. There are two irreconcilable types of spirituality: one that strives to liberate man from time (Buddhism, Hinduism, Nirvana, etc.); the other that strives to liberate time. In genuine eternity, all is alive. The limit and the fullness: the whole of time, the whole of life is in each moment. But there is also the perpetual problem: What about the evil moments? Evil time? The terrible fear before dying of the drowning man, of the man falling from the tenth floor about to be crushed on the pavement? What about the tears of an abused child?

(The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann 1973-1983, p.78)

To Be Continued

For Part II go to https://orthodoxcityhermit.com/2015/12/18/4441/