Ineffable utterance

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The mystical theology of Eastern Orthodox Hesychasm speaks words of wisdom as prophecy which elders impart to awaken prayer, but elders know it is the Spirit that utters ineffable words in the heart that open the eye of the heart.  The Apostle Paul says he cannot express what was communicated to him as ineffable utterance in the third heaven (2 Cor 12:2-4).  He says this ineffable utterance was known to God, even though he himself could not say how, indicating to desert elders that ineffable utterance may be communicated in the Spirit as wisdom bearing witness to glory.  Such wisdom inspires not only Orthodox Hesychasm but also the mystical theology of the Eastern Church.  It is the Spirit’s truth that is preserved always and everywhere by all, the Spirit’s ineffable witness that unveils Christ in the midst to all.  

The dogmatic tradition of Holy Orthodoxy is provisionally expressible in rational speech, but the mysteries the dogmas express are grounded in ineffable divine communication, centred in deifying communion with Christ, God’s ineffable Word.  The Spirit bears witness to this union of the Son with the Father and it is the Spirit’s witness which is imparted to the heart as ineffable utterance.  The Desert Fathers were, of course, familiar with ineffable utterance, which was for them what mysteriously united the mind with the heart, piercing the heart with uncreated light in the midst.  It is ineffable utterance that communicates the grace of deifying communion.  It is ineffable utterance that inspires wisdom to discern the glory of grace, speaking ineffable mysteries to the heart.

Ineffable utterance underlies all Orthodox Christian mysteries, being wisdom’s communication of the hidden glory that hallows the saints.  Ineffable utterance inspires not only monks, nuns and hermits but lay fools for Christ and hidden saints and nameless pilgrims in every walk of life.  There were always many ways the Name was lived as truth, as well as experienced as transfiguring life. The Russian Pilgrim is a well-known example of devotion to great Patristic literature, in this case, the Philokalia, which bears constant witness to ineffable utterance in the heart.  It has, of course, nothing to do with hearing strange voices or experiencing disordered psychotic episodes.  Union with God remains hidden with Christ in the Spirit, concealing ineffable utterance from all external scrutiny.  

God in Holy Trinity communicates mysteries of glory to the glorified with the help of Ineffable utterance.  Since such utterance is not only beyond knowledge but also beyond unknowing, in the light of Denys and Gregory Palamas, we can say that ineffable utterance transcends negation as well as affirmation.  For the desert, mystical theology is Holy Trinity communicating Holy Trinity using ineffable utterance, the Father generating the Son in the Holy Spirit, communicating mysteries of glory in the heart.  On Mount Athos and monasteries like the Monastery of St Catherine at the foot of Mount Sinai, desert wisdom still communicates glory as ineffable utterance, transmitting wisdom from heart to heart, sustaining glorification.

When the Name is uttered, its uncreated wisdom ineffably communicates uncreated glory, inspiring God-centred glorification of God, wisdom transmitted from heart to heart.  God is not reified when ineffable utterance communicates deifying mysteries, because God is seer and seen, as well as the seeing, in Holy Trinity.  Ineffable utterance is the expression of ineffable union, incomprehensible union that transcends every kind of monism as well as dualism.  Unutterable communion in the Name ‘I AM,’ is a union of unfathomable wisdom and incomprehensible glory.  It unveils the ineffable difference between the created and the uncreated, which remains obscure when confusion and division reign.  The desert is heir to this Patristic legacy of uncreated wisdom whose communication is gloriously ineffable.  It releases every conceptual idol into a theophanic image that communicates likeness by unveiling glory to wisdom.  Ineffable utterance, moreover, is the language of wonder as well as wisdom.  It expresses wondrous gratitude which flows forth from the mystery of grace.  

Divine ineffability is rooted in divine incomprehensibility, so transcends what the rational mind can grasp.  Revelation of the Name is ineffable, so transmission of the Name is impossible without the grace of ineffable utterance.  Wisdom communicates glory as ineffable utterance, veiling the Holy of Holies of Godhead beyond God from profane scrutiny.  Ineffable utterance communicates glorification so that glorification may receive and embrace ineffable wisdom, beyond the grasp of knowledge and comprehension.  Ineffable utterance is the dazzling darkness of wisdom communicating the hidden glory of the Name, purifying the heart, illumining the intelligence, the Holy Spirit in our spirit, glorifying God as ineffable utterance, deifying all.