Thursday, April 2, 2009

Orthodox Patristics

1. This site, which is not affiliated with the blog of the erudite, praiseworthy, humble, and pious Eastern Orthodox man James L. Kelley, is the counterpart to Catholic Patristics (see index of posts here). I will use this blog to present and explain, from a Catholic perspective, Patristic and conciliar texts that the Eastern Orthodox might use to rebut Catholicism. This will be necessary because otherwise the posts at Catholic Patristics will be too long, and the posts there are intended to give positive Patristic proof of Catholic doctrine more than refute the Orthodox misuse of Patristic texts in their vain quest to prove Catholicism false.
2. I take the lionheart ascetic and genius St. Maximos the Confessor of Constantinople as my Heavenly patron for Orthodox Patristics, and I pray that the blog, when it is much more fleshed out, will help evangelize the Eastern Orthodox, for whom I have much love and respect. God has blessed me with certain knowledge that the Catholic Church is the true Church, and I humbly hope that my new complementary blog will help show this truth from a Patristic and conciliar basis and help strengthen the faith of Catholics. May God make my faith and your faith stronger each day! Amen.

3. May God bless you and yours! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

4. Index:
*Immaculate Conception
*Papal Infallibility & Primacy - including a refutation of Abbe Wladimir Guettée's arguments from The Papacy--Its Historic Origin and Primitive Relations with the Eastern Churches
*Particular Judgment
*Peter is the Rock
*Purgatory & Prayers for the Dead

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


1. The Eastern Orthodox differ from Catholics in that the former deny that the υπόστασις [hypostasis] of the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son; at most, they will grant that the υπόστασις of the Spirit is eternally energetically manifested through the υπόστασις of the Son (like Patriarch Gregory II the Cypriot of Constantinople). Such narrowed and hardened anti-Latin Triadology is inadequate and heretical. Since the Holy Spirit is a υπόστασις and given that He proceeds in some way from the Son, He must proceed as υπόστασις from the Son, which is to say His υπόστασις is from the Son. In other words, the υπόστασις of the Holy Spirit proceeds (is) from the Son eternally, but the primordial/unoriginate source of His divine hypostasis is the Father alone, for the Father alone is the (unoriginate) source [πηγή] and cause [αἰτία] of divinity. The Holy Spirit receives from the Son the being and nature [oυσία = ousia] of the Father, which the Son receives as Only-Begotten. The Eastern Orthodox have always refused Filioquism because they believe it violates the Cappadocian principle and compromises the μοναρχία [monarchy] of the Father. This belief is without foundation because Filioque does not attribute to the Son a property distinctive of the Father. There would only be a problem if Filioque made the Son the unoriginate source of divinity (πηγαία Θεότης = Godhead-source), i.e., gave the Son the notions of innascibility and paternity. Clearly Filioque does no such thing.

2. New Testament passages speak of the Spirit as the Spirit of the Son [Gal 4:6], of Christ [Rom 8:9], and of Jesus Christ [Phil 1:19]. If only the Father spirates the Holy Spirit, then the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father only, and the New Testament passages cited would make no sense. Unlike the passages St. Photios the Great cites in Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit 57, these passages deal with the eternal relation of the person of the Spirit to the person of the Son. St. Photios gives a fallacious response to the citation of Gal 4:6 in n. 56 of the same polemical treatise, falsely accusing Latins of calling the Pauline statement imperfect, when in fact they are just explaining a perfect statement.
3. Before considering whether the addition of Filioque to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed is licit, it behooves us to discover whether Filioque is true doctrine. This survey will discuss the statements of the Fathers and certain ecclesiastical writers to see if there is a consensus about the procession of the Holy Spirit, and if the Western and Eastern Fathers have compatible Triadological standpoints. It will also take into account the rulings of Ecumenical and Local councils. This is not mere "spoof-texting," because I analyze the texts in detail. The Eastern Orthodox position results in the absurd conclusion of orthodox Trinitarian saints and heretical Trinitarian saints who were in communion with each other for hundreds of years.

1st Century
East: Bishop St. Dionysios the Areopagite Martyr of Athens (10/9)
4. St. Dionysios the Areopagite says in Divine Names 2:5 in PG 3:641D that "the sole fount of supersubstantial divinity is the Father." This is not antithetical to Filioque; see the explanations above.2nd Century
East: St. Justin Martyr the Philosopher of Caesarea (6/1)
5. In his 7/1440 Encyclical against the Uniates, Metropolitan Mark Eugenikos of Ephesus quotes St. Justin Martyr as stating, "As the Son is from the Father, so is the Spirit from the Father."{1} Mark chides the Uniates for saying that the Son proceeds from the Father immediately, whereas the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father mediately, which he contrasts with the position of St. Justin Martyr. We rightly confess with reference to "the persons themselves spirating" that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father immediately, as from Him, and mediately, as from the Son," and that, with reference to the spirative power, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son immediately.{2}
{1} Robinson, Perry C. "Saint Mark of Ephesus on False Union and the Filioque." Energetic Procession. 16 Jan. 2008. 5 Aug. 2009
{2} Aquinas, St. Thomas (Angelic Doctor). Summa Theologica I, q. 36, art. 3, ad 1.

4th Century
East: Patriarch St. Athanasios I the Great of Alexandria (Doctor) 5/2
6. At the Ecumenical Council of Florence, Metropolitan Mark Eugenikos of Ephesus quoted St. Athanasios the Great in support of his theology.{1} St. Athanasios says [PG 28:97BC], "the sole unbegotten and sole fount of divinity, the Father." This, however, does not shut out the Son from participation in the procession of the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit from God the Father. If it does, Mark would make St. Athanasios contradict himself, for the same saint says that the Father and the Son are the one principle of the Holy Spirit [On the Incarnation of the Word Against the Arians 9 in PG 26:1000A]: "David sings in the psalm [35:10], saying: 'For with You is the font of Life;' because jointly with the Father the Son is indeed the source of the Holy Spirit."

7. Moreover, the same great illuminator of the Church and pillar of faith says in 362 [Against the Arians 3:25:24 in PG 26:376A], "Everything the Spirit has, He has from the Son (para tou Logou)." Whatever the Spirit has includes His existence, i.e., it includes His essence and hypostasis. Ergo St. Athanasios explicitly taught that the Father, through and with the Son, communicates consubstantial divinity and thus gives existence to the Holy Spirit, without prejudice to the μοναρχία of the Father.
{1} Gill, Joseph, S.J. The Council of Florence, Chapter V: The Dogmatic Discussion.

East: Patriarch St. Gregory Nazianzen the Great Theologian of Constantinople (Doctor) 1/2
8. St. Gregory the Theologian says in Oration 34:10 [PG 36:252A], "all that the Father has belongs likewise to the Son, except Causality." This, however, is no prejudice to Filioque, because the Theologian uses causality to mean άγεινησία and paternity (γέννησις),{1} which, as we have seen above, is not compromised by the notional act of spiration common to the Father and the Son, which is the της προσ αλληλα σχεσεως διαϕορον [Oration 31:9 in PG 36:141C] that distinguishes the Holy Spirit from the Son.9. The Theologian says [Oration 31:8], "the Spirit is a μεσον (middle term) between the Unbegotten and the Begotten." But if the Holy Ghost is the unitive "middle term" of the Father and the Son, it must be the case that He proceeds (προείναι) from the Father and the Son. Even St. Gregory Palamas (2nd Sunday of Great Lent) admits that the Holy Spirit is like the unitive Love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father in 150 Chapters 36 [PG 150:1144D-1145A]:
The Spirit of the most high Word is like an ineffable love of the Father for this Word ineffably generated. A love which this same Word and beloved Son of the Father entertains (χρηται) towards the Father: but insofar as He has the Spirit coming with Him (συνπροελθοντα) from the Father and reposing connaturally in Him.
But Palamas avoids the necessary conclusion that the Holy Spirit proceeds (προείναι) from both, and in the same chapter Palamas mimics the monopatrism of St. Photios by robbing the Son of a role in the eternal hypostatic procession of the Holy Spirit [PG 150:1145B]: "Therefore, He is sent to the worthy from both, but in His coming to be He belongs to the Father alone and thus He also proceeds from Him alone in His manner of coming to be."{1} Petavius, Dionysius, S.J. Dogmata theologica Vol. II: De Trinitate, Book VII, Chapter 17, §9, p. 764.

East: Monk St. Maximos the Confessor of Constantinople (8/13)
10. In his Letter to Priest Marinus of Cyprus, the great St. Maximos says [PG 91:134D-136C],
Those of the Queen of cities have attacked the synodal letter of the present very holy Pope (Martin I), not in the case of all the chapters that he has written in it, but only in the case of two of them. One relates to theology, because it says he says that "the Holy Spirit proceeds (ἐκπορεύεσθαι) also from the Son."

The other has to do with the divine Incarnation, because he has written, "The Lord, as man, is without original sin."

With regard to the first matter, they (the Romans) have produced the unanimous documentary evidence of the Latin fathers, and also of Cyril of Alexandria, from the sacred commentary he composed on the gospel of St. John. On the basis of these texts, they have shown that they have not made the Son the cause of the Spirit — they know in fact that the Father is the only cause of the Son and the Spirit, the one by begetting and the other by procession; but [they use this expression] in order to manifest the Spirit's coming-forth (προϊέναι) through Him and, in this way, to make clear the unity and identity of the essence

The Romans have therefore been accused of things of which it is wrong to accuse them, whereas of the things of which the Byzantines have quite rightly been accused (viz., Monothelitism), they have, to date, made no self-defense, because neither have they gotten rid of the things introduced by them.

But, in accordance with your request, I have asked the Romans to translate what is peculiar to them in such a way that any obscurities that may result from it will be avoided. But since the practice of writing and sending (the synodal letters) has been observed, I wonder whether they will possibly agree to doing this. One should also keep in mind that they cannot express their meaning in a language and idiom that are foreign to them as precisely as they can in their own mother-tongue, any more than we can do.
11. Against the Monothelites, the wonderworking monk says that the Latins do not consider the Son to be the unoriginate source, i.e., αἰτία of divinity, and that the expression procedere in the synodal letter of the righteous Pope St. Martin I was translated inaccurately. It is the height of absurdity to claim that St. Maximos, who lived in the West for a time, was defending a Photian interpretation of the Latin Fathers rather than the unanimous Latin teaching of the eternal derivation of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son.{1} Lest anyone think, from the above diction of the Constantinopolitan man of God, that he denies that the Son has any involvement and mediation in the hypostatic procession of the Holy Spirit, I quote the following words of the monk [Questions to Thalassios 63 in PG 90:672C]: "By nature (ϕυσει) the Holy Spirit in His being (κατ’ ουσιαν) takes substantially (ουσιοδως) His origin (εκπορευομενον) from the Father through the Son Who is begotten (δι’ Υιου γεννηθεντος)."
{1} Gilbert, Dr. Peter. "St. Maximus on the Filioque." De Unione Ecclesiarum. 21 Jan. 2008. 6 Aug. 2009 <>.

8th Century
East: Hieromonk St. John of Damascus (Doctor of the Assumption) 12/4
12. The Syrian Doctor says in An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:8 [PG 94:832B], "And we do not speak of the Spirit as from the Son: but yet we call Him the Spirit of the Son." In 1:12 [PG 94:849B] St. John adds, "And we speak also of the Spirit of the Son, not as though proceeding from Him, but as proceeding through Him from the Father. For the Father alone is cause."
13. When St. John of Damascus says that the Spirit does not proceed ἐκ (from) the Son, the great defender of icons is not rejecting Filioque, because επόρευσις (ekporeusis) can, by definition, characterize only the relationship of origin to the principle without principle of the Holy Trinity, viz., the Father;{1} to say that το εκ του Πατρος εκπορευομενον και του Υιου confuses the hypostases of the Father and the Son. The Son is not the αἰτία because He receives His fecundity from the Father.

14. In 1:8 of the same work, the saint says [PG 94:833A],
And we confess that He is manifested and imparted to us through the Son. It is just the same as in the case of the sun from which come both the ray and the radiance (for the sun itself is the source of both the ray and the radiance), and it is through the ray that the radiance is imparted to us, and it is the radiance itself by which we are lightened and in which we participate. Further we do not speak of the Son of the Spirit, or of the Son as derived from the Spirit.
St. John preserves the τάξις when he says that the Spirit is δε (of) the Son, but not the other way around (the Son is not δε the Spirit or derived from the Spirit), and does not rule out that the Holy Spirit receives from the Son the oυσία of the Father, which the Son receives as Only-Begotten, lest anyone think that he restricts the involvement of the Son to the energetic manifestation, excluding involvement in the hypostatic procession. For he says in An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:12 [PG 94:848D], "He Himself then is mind, the depth of reason, begetter of the Word, and through the Word the Producer of the revealing Spirit."

15. If that is not what St. John means, then, as we said above, how could he say in 1:13 [PG 94:856B], "The Son is the Father's image, and the Spirit the Son's, through which Christ dwelling in man makes him after His own image."
How could a divine person be the είκών of a person from Whom He does not proceed? And how could it be the case that [PG 94:856B] "The Holy Spirit is God, being between the unbegotten and the begotten, and united to the Father through the Son," being the unitive bond of the Father and the Son, unless He proceeds from the Father and the Son?{1} Petavius, Dionysius, S.J. Dogmata theologica Vol. II: De Trinitate, Book VII, Chapter 17, §8, p. 763. . This is the sense of "non tamen ex ipso existentiam habens" [Greek in PG 96:605B] that Steven Todd Kaster quotes.

West: Pope St. Zachary of Rome (3/5)
16. St. Photios claims Pope St. Zachary as a teacher of Photian monopatrism [Mystagogy §87 in PG 102:373C], even though no pope ever objected to the doctrine of Filioque.{1} The fact that the Holy Spirit abides in the Son does not entail that He does not proceed from the Son, because we also say that the Son abides in the Father, from Whom He proceeds as Only-Begotten.{2} The Holy Spirit abides in the Son as the love (Holy Spirit) of the lover (Father) abides in the beloved (Son).{3} The Holy Spirit abides in the Son with reference to the human nature of the latter, as it is written in Jn 1:33 (Douay Rheims): "He upon Whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, He it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost."{4}{1} Scourtis, C. "Eastern Schism." New Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 24. 15 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Fordham University Libraries. 12 Feb. 2009.
{2} Aquinas, St. Thomas (Angelic Doctor). Summa Theologica I, q. 36, art. 2, ad 4.
{3} Ibid.
{4} Ibid.

9th Century
West: Pope St. Leo III of Rome (6/12)
17. Eastern Orthodox apologists make much of the fact that Pope St. Leo III opposed the edition of Filioque to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 and had it engraved in its original form in Greek and Latin on two silver shields in front of St. Peter's,{1} but that is where the usefulness of their polemical weapon ceases. St. Leo III told Bl. Charlemagne (1/28) that he agreed with the doctrine of Filioque.{2} But Pope St. Leo III--who omitted Filioque from the Creed for the sake of Church unity{3} and was aware of the sensitivity of the Greeks about their Creed{4} and the nuances of ἐκπορευόμενον vs. προείναι{5}--openly confessed, in letter to all the Eastern Churches, his belief in "the Holy Spirit, proceeding equally from the Father and from the Son, consubstantial, coeternal with the Father and the Son. The Father, complete God in Himself, the Son, complete God begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit, complete God proceeding from the Father and the Son..."{6} This manifestly concerns the hypostatic procession of the Holy Spirit.{1} Malanczuk, V. "Byzantine Theology." New Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 822. 15 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Fordham University Libraries. 23 Mar. 2009.
{2} Ibid.
{3} Ibid.
{4} Bonocore, Mark J. "Filioque: A Response to Eastern Orthodox Objections." The Catholic Legate. 12 Dec. 2006. 6 Aug. 2009 <>. Mr. Bonocore says,
Not so in the Byzantine East, however, where Church and Empire (that is, secular civilization) fit neatly and fundamentally together. So, when the Western Church embraced Filioque and actually introduced it into its native recitation of the Creed, what it was doing--as the Byzantines saw it--was "rebelling" against the theocratic unity of the Byzantine Empire, to which Italy and certain other parts of the West at least nominally belonged. … Rome recognized that the Church was not formally bound or limited by any one, "official Creed"; and so amending its liturgical Creed to address real doctrinal challenges within its own Western experience was not a problem, but a valid defense of organic Christian orthodoxy. To the Byzantines, this was (and still is) a very uncomfortable approach, because it violates their view of the world and of the Church, where there was/is no separation whatsoever between Church and state (or secular Christian–that is, Byzantine–culture). Thus, when their fellow ethnic "Romans" in the West (who were now under Visigothic and Frankish rule) approved of an altered version of the Creed, it seemed to the Byzantines as if their Western brethren were being "unpatriotic" --that is, "unRoman" / "unByzantine" … and so "unOthodox." This was, of course, not the case. They were merely being "Catholic" –that is, possessing a sensitivity to Christian truth as it transcends cultural or nationalistic points of view (e.g. the limits of Byzantine culture and experience).
{5} St. Photios talks about the failure of Latin to capture Greek nuances in Mystagogy §87 [PG 102:376A]. However, Pope St. Leo III was not a Photian monopatrist, as we demonstrated above, so St. Photios could not claim him as a witness to his novel opposition to the doctrine of Filioque.
{6} Swete, H. B. On the History of the Doctrine of the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Apostolic Age to the Death of Charlemagne. Cambridge and London, 1876. p. 230. The Latin reads, "Spiritum Sanctum a Patre et a Filio aequaliter procedentem, consubstantialem, coaeternum Patri et Filio. Pater plenus Deus in se, Filius plenus Deus a Patre genitus, Spiritus Sanctus plenus Deus a Patre et Filio procedens."

West: Pope John VIII of Rome
18. Pope John VIII of Rome, who reinstated Patriarch St. Photios the Great of Constantinople in 880 and remained in communion with him,{1} did not rebuke the doctrine of Filioque: not one pope disagreed with the doctrine that Filioque teaches.{2} St. Photios was thus wrong to claim him as "my John" in Mystagogy §89 [PG 102:380A], i.e., in the sense that John agreed with his novel teaching that the Father alone spirates the Holy Spirit. The so-called letter of Pope John VIII to St. Photios classing those who added Filioque to the Creed with Judas Iscariot is a 14th century forgery.{3}{1} In The Photian Schism, Fr. Dvornik says that if John VIII had excommunicated St. Photios after learning what transpired at the 879-880 Reunion Council of Constantinople, Archbishop Stylianos would have mentioned it in his letter to Pope Stephen V of Rome [Mansi XVI:432], since that would have been immensely important for his purposes [Dvornik 219]. The anti-Photian compiler does not, as promised [Mansi XVI:448-449], produce the anti-Photian synodical letter of Pope John VIII, but should have if such a thing really existed [Dvornik 218].The anti-Photian compiler is untrustworthy for several reasons, one being his claim that John VIII, as Roman archdeacon, authoritatively condemned Photios at the Council of 869-870, whereas the seventh session Acts of the Council show that Bishop Gauderich of Velletri was the spokesman [218].
{2} Scourtis, C. "Eastern Schism." New Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 24. 15 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Fordham University Libraries. 12 Feb. 2009.
{3} Dvornik, Francis. The Photian Schism: History and Legend. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. pp. 197-198.

4th Century
Second Ecumenical Council (Constantinople I) says in 381,
19. The Holy Fathers assembled at the Second Ecumenical Council wanted to affirm the ὁμοούσιος of the Holy Spirit with the Father, not the precise τρόπος ὑπάρξεως (mode of coming to be) of the Holy Spirit.{1} Thus they considered the εκπόρενσις of the Holy Spirit from the Father as the sole unoriginate πηγή (source) and αἰτία (cause) of divinity, and were not immediately concerned with the relation of origin between the Holy Spirit and the Son.

{1} Nichols, Aidan, O.P. Rome and the Eastern Churches: A Study in Schism. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1992. p. 214.

5th Century
Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus)
20. In 431 Canon VII of Ephesus (DS 265) prohibits additions to the Creed "defined by the holy fathers who convened in the city of Nicaea," the creed composed in 325; it does not prohibit adding to the Creed that the holy fathers of Constantinople I composed in 381, which did not attain ecumenical status until Rome ratified Constantinople I later on. That is why St. Cyril recites the Nicene Creed of 325 in Epistle 17 [PG 77:117] and the holy fathers of Ephesus read the Nicene Creed of 325, not the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381, at the 6/22/431 opening of the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus. If Canon VII means that no one can add explanatory notes that illumine, rather than upset, the substance of the faith, then the Council of Ephesus anathematized the Council of Constantinople I, which added explanatory notes to the Nicene Creed of 325. If we are to avoid absurdities, then "ἑτέραν" must mean "another" in the sense of contradictory, not "another" in the sense of having explanatory additions. Otherwise, the holy fathers of Constantinople II could not have considered the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed to have lawfully expressed the same faith as the Nicene Creed [Labbe-Cossart V:455].

Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon)
21. This is all the more obvious when we consider the declaration of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 regarding the Nicene Creed of 325, to which several explanatory statements were added by the 381 Council of Constantinople I,
This wise and saving Symbol of Divine grace would have sufficed to the full knowledge and confirmation of the faith; for it teaches thoroughly the perfect truth of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and presents to those who receive it faithfully the Incarnation of the Lord.
It is clear, then, that the holy Fathers of the seven ecumenical councils considered expository clauses licit in cases of new heresies.

6th Century
Fifth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople II)
22. The Fifth Ecumenical Council says in 553 [Session 1], "We further declare that we hold fast to the decrees of the four Councils, and in every way follow the holy Fathers, Athanasius, Hilary, Basil, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Theophilus, John [Chrysostom] of Constantinople, Cyril, Augustine, Proclus, Leo, and their writings on the true faith."
The Fifth Ecumenical Council followed "in every way" the "writings on the true faith" of the aforementioned Holy Fathers, meaning that it endorsed the Triadology of each of these God-bearing Church Fathers. But we have seen that Sts. Athanasios the Great (Doctor), Hilary (Doctor), Basil the Great (Doctor), Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose the Great (Doctor), Cyril (Doctor of the Incarnation), Augustine the Great (Doctor of Grace), and Leo the Great (Doctor) taught that the Holy Spirit derives His existence from the Father and the Son.

7th Century
Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople III)
23. This great Council follows the wording of the prohibition by Chalcedon, which, as we have seen, anathematizes a contradictory faith (hetera pistis), not an addition explaining the same faith in response to new heresies of the day.