Wisdom of Saint Antony

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The wisdom of Saint Antony bears witness that true knowledge of self is knowledge of God, not because he confuses the human self with God but because, in true self-knowledge, the self empties itself of what it knows and centres in God who knows (Antony’s Letters 3 & 4 Chitty SLG 1975 pg 9-13).  The Name empties God of himself when his Name reveals God at the heart of our self-emptying.  The wisdom of the desert knows that self-knowledge is knowledge of God in his Name, because to the degree that the Name cures confusion, it simultaneously heals division from all trace of reified separation.  The oneness of God is revealed by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit, being oneness that knows no division because it is oneness that is not confused with anything created.  The Name is not created so wisdom knows we are all members one of another when the Name unveils God, who is as he was and who is as he shall always be, knowing the uncreated differs from the created, but is never divided.  Wisdom knows God in glory without confusion, so glory is known in God without division.  Saint Antony says that to know our true name in God is to know God’s true Name in us (Antony’s Letter 3, Ibid pg 9).  Self-knowledge is not self-obsessed self-identification with oneself, but for Saint Antony is recognition in our midst of the light of the glory of God’s own God-centred knowledge of God in Holy Trinity.

No-one knows God except God, so when self-knowledge empties the self of all created images of itself, it empties itself of itself into God, who empties himself of himself into the revelatory glory of his Name.  The mutual reciprocity of this self-emptying kenosis, is the reciprocal mutuality of Name-hallowing, kiddush ha Shem.  Prophets, apostles and saints know God through God in God, not beside God, outside God or apart from God.  Love loves God in self and neighbour, just as God is loved in self and neighbour through God, that is, the glory of his grace.  Wisdom loves the eye of the heart as the heart of all knowledge of God, taught by the Holy Spirit to know God as God is known by God.  The Spirit prays unceasingly in the heart, crying ‘ABBA,’ ‘Father,’ turning external seekers into Sons of God by grace (Rom 8:15-17).   Saint Antony adds that Arius denied the divinity of Christ because he did not know himself, revealing that Orthodox Faith is grounded in wisdom, not conventional belief, wisdom that the desert transmits as spiritual gnosis, gnosis that shows no trace of divisive sectarian gnosticism (Antony’s Letter 4).

God’s God-centred knowledge of God is uncreated fire consuming confusion and dissolving division, healing the great wound, curing all falls from grace.  Self-knowledge is knowledge of God that comes from God and returns to God, through God, unveiling the oneness of God in mutual divine-human self-emptying.  Neither God nor self are annihilated by self-emptying but confusion and division are consumed by uncreated fire, unveiling God as God, whose oneness is indivisible.  To know oneself is to know God who is as he is, who was as he shall ever be, for the separate self is indeed other than God and is not confused with God.  The Name communicates the hidden secret that is the mystery of mysteries, but veils it from presumptuous pride, so that the Name is not profaned.  Death deprives awareness of everything except the uncreated face of the hallowing Name, indicating that at death the unveiled face is undying.  It is ignorant pride that is put to death by death, opening the eye of the heart.  The death of death is the death of proud ignorance, which is the resurrection of truth as way and life.  The Name reconfigures everything by renewing all things in wisdom, unveiling the eye of the heart.  The reconfiguration of wisdom beholds God’s God-centred glory, ascribing all glory to God, unveiling transfiguration at the heart of awareness and presence.  The wisdom of Saint Antony is Christ, the way and the truth of the Name, reconfiguring everything in the timeless life of transfiguring glory.