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Pearls From St Gregory Palamas

The Superior knowledge

For a man to know God, and to know himself and his proper rank - a knowledge now possessed even by Christians who are thought to be quite unlearned - is a knowledge superior to natural science and astronomy and to all philosophy concerning such matters. Moreover, for our intellect to know its own infirmity, and to seek healing for it, is incomparably greater than to know and search out the magnitude of the stars, the principles of nature, the generation of terrestrial things and the circuits of celestial bodies, their solstices and risings, stations and retrogressions, separation and conjunctions and, in short, all the multiform relationships which arise from the many different motions of the heavens. For the intellect that recognizes its own infirmity has discovered where to enter in order to find salvation and how to approach the light of knowledge and receive the true wisdom that does not pass away with the present world.

St. Gregory Palamas, Philokalia, Vol. 4.

The foolishness of pride

What benefit does one procure in being puffed up? Does it sustain one, or protect one, or having made a mistake does it take one up to where one was previously and heal one? Certainly no one could possibly claim something such as this. But I think that in this passion of vainglory is given proof of the evil done under the guise of virtue. If, then, one wishes to examine more precisely this passion, one will discover that it, in a very deceitful manner, causes and manifests the greatest varieties of shame. Sometimes this passion even shamelessly removes its mask and disgraces those who are in love with this passion, despite of the fact that the Greek philosophers taught that without it nothing could be achieved in this life. What delusion!

St. Gregory Palamas, Treatise on the Spiritual Life.

The only way to perfection

A human being who does not endure courageously the unpleasant burdens of temptations, will never produce fruit worthy of the divine wine-press and eternal harvest, not even if one possess all other virtues. For one is only perfected through zealously enduring both all the voluntary and involuntary afflictions. Some of these afflictions are inflicted upon u s externally and others are borne internally. That which happens to the earthly plants naturally, during the changes of the season when cultivation is done by the vinedressers - who are us, the intelligent branches of Christ who are obedient to that Vinedresser of souls - is endured from self-determined free choice. Furthermore, without enduring the involuntary afflictions which come upon us, nor those voluntary things, one will not acquire divine blessings. For love towards God is received especially through the sorrows which are a result of the trial of temptations.

St. Gregory Palamas, Treatise on the Spiritual Life.

The Kingdom of God is within you

Since the Logos of God though 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' (Isa. 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.

Concerning the commandments of God and true knowledge

But we also know that the fulfillment of the commandments of God gives true knowledge, since it is through this that the soul gains health. How could a rational soul be healthy, if it is sick in its cognitive faculty? So we know that the commandments of God also grant knowledge, and not that alone, but deification also. This we possess in a perfect manner, through the Spirit, seeing in ourselves the glory of God, when it pleases God to lead us to spiritual mysteries, in the manner indicated by St. Isaac.

St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads

Concerning angels and souls

Since angels and souls are incorporeal beings, they are not in a particular place, yet neither are they everywhere. They do not sustain all things, but themselves depend on Him Who sustains them. Hence they, too, are in Him Who sustains and embraces all things, and they are appropriately delimited by Him. The soul, since it sustains the body with which it is created, is everywhere in the body, although not in the sense of being located in a place or encompassed, but it itself sustains, encompasses and quickens the body, by virtue of the fact that it is in God's image.

St. Gregory Palamas, Philokalia, Vol. IV.