Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

the_fall

9 Entries

After our forefather's transgression in paradise through the tree, we suffered the death of our soul - which is the separation of the soul from God - prior to our bodily death; yet although we cast away our divine likeness, we did not lose our divine image. Thus when the soul renounces its attachment to inferior things and cleaves through love to God and submits itself to Him through acts and modes of virtue, it is illuminated and made beautiful by God and is raised to a higher level, obeying His counsels and exhortations; and by these means it regains the truly eternal life. Through this life it makes the body conjoined to it immortal, so that in due time the body attains the promised resurrection and participates in eternal glory." St. Gregory Palamas (Topics of Natural and Theological Science no. 39, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 363)



As long as man was holy and passionless, he had no need of law. But now we know we do need our Lord's commandments. The loving God, wanting to teach us that we have a Creator Who produced us and all visible realities, wished also to reveal His own dominion and preeminence. Although our Lord entrusted us with His earthly creation, He knew we could be prone to fall into pride, exaggerate our importance as humans, and to regard visible things and even ourselves as self-sufficient. Johanna Manley, The Lament of Eve

But Adam did not wish to say, "I sinned," but said rather the contrary of this and placed the blame for the transgression upon God Who created everything "very good," saying to Him, "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate." And after him she also placed the blame upon the serpent, and they did not wish at all to repent and, falling down before the Lord God, beg forgiveness of Him. For this, God banished them from Paradise, as from a royal palace, to live in this world as exiles. At that time also He decreed that a flaming sword should be turned and should guard the entrance into Paradise. And God did not curse Paradise, since it was the image of the future unending life of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. If it were not for this reason, it would have been fitting to curse it most of all, since within it was performed the transgression of Adam. But God did not do this, but cursed only the whole rest of the earth, which also was corrupt and brought forth everything by itself; and this was in order that Adam might not have any longer a life free from exhausting labors and sweat... Abba Isidore of Skete

But Adam did not wish to say, "I sinned," but said rather the contrary of this and placed the blame for the transgression upon God Who created everything "very good," saying to Him, "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate." And after him she also placed the blame upon the serpent, and they did not wish at all to repent and, falling down before the Lord God, beg forgiveness of Him. For this, God banished them from Paradise, as from a royal palace, to live in this world as exiles. At that time also He decreed that a flaming sword should be turned and should guard the entrance into Paradise. And God did not curse Paradise, since it was the image of the future unending life of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. If it were not for this reason, it would have been fitting to curse it most of all, since within it was performed the transgression of Adam. But God did not do this, but cursed only the whole rest of the earth, which also was corrupt and brought forth everything by itself; and this was in order that Adam might not have any longer a life free from exhausting labors and sweat... St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Sin of Adam, Homily 45 (quoted in TheLament of Eve, by Johanna Manley)

But man, having lost the enjoyment of his own primitive, pure existence, as well as that of the universe, has lost even the comprehension of it. As the fish, moving about in the water, knows not the better and more perfect life of animals breathing the air: even so the unhappy soul of man, immersed in the gross and corrupted elementary world, and living in it, like the fish in the water, knows not the ethereal and incorruptible life of Paradise. Therefrom proceed the doubts of a mind, reasoning from its natural power alone, concerning the reality of such a life, and the possibility of its existence. Select Sermons of Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow

But nothing causes such exceeding grief as when anyone, lying under the captivity of sin, calls to mind from where he has fallen, because he turned aside to carnal and earthly things, instead of directing his mind in the beautiful ways of the knowledge of God. So you find Adam concealing himself, when he knew that God was present and wishing to be hidden when called by God with that voice which wounded the soul of him who was hiding: "Adam, where art thou?" That is to say, Why do you hide yourself? Why are you concealed? Why do you avoid Him Whom you once longed to see? A guilty conscience is so burdensome that it punishes itself without a judge, and wishes for covering, and yet is bare before God. St. Ambrose Milan, Concerning Repentance, Book II

In the midst God planted a tree of life and a tree of knowledge. He planted the tree of knowledge as a sort of trial, test, and exercise of man's obedience and disobedience. It is either for this reason that it as been called the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or because it gave to those who partook of it the power to know their own nature -- which, while it is good for the perfect, is bad for those who are less perfect and more given to their desires, as strong meat is to those who are tender and still in need of milk. For God Who created us did not want us to be "careful and troubled about many things" (Lk. 10:410, nor to be anxious and concerned for our own life -- which is just what happened to Adam. Thus, after he had eaten, he became aware of the fact that he was naked...God wanted us to be dispassionate in this way, for that is passionlessness to the highest degree. And He also wanted us to be free from care and to have but one task, that of the angels, which is unceasingly and unremittingly to sing the praises of the Creator and to rejoice in contemplating Him. He also wanted us to cast our cares upon Him...(Cf. Ps. 54:23)...In the Gospels, too, when teaching His own disciples, He says: "Be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on"...The tree of life was either a tree possessing a life-giving force or a tree that was to be eaten of only by such as were worthy of life and not subject to death...(Man) had the indwelling God as a dwelling place and wore Him as a glorious garment...wrapped about with His grace...in the enjoyment of that one most sweet fruit which is the contemplation of God, and by this he was nourished. St. John of Damascus. The Orthodox Faith, Book Two, Chp. 11, B#12, Vol. 37, pp. 231-232

Long ago, the wily one cast his weapon and wounded Adam and killed him; Indeed, he completely destroyed the weak man. But now, even if he struck the bodies of the noble men, he did not destroy their spirits. He persuaded the first-created man to fall by words, but not even by deeds, the noble ones. Bewitching the former, he made promises; he made offers to the latter: For Adam, the making of a god; for the martyrs, honor. He offers what he does not have; he suggests bestowing things not in his authority. Therefore, saints, having shattered his scheme, You gained crowns. St Romanos the Melodist - On the Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia I

Through the fall our nature was stripped of divine illumination and resplendence. But the Logos of God had pity upon our disfigurement and in His compassion He took our nature upon Himself, and on Tabor He manifested it to His elect disciples clothed once again most brilliantly. He shows what we once were and what we shall become through Him in the age to come, if we choose to live our present life as far as possible in accordance with His ways. St. Gregory Palamas





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