Hagioritic Tome

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The Hagioritic Tome (1340) of Saint Gregory Palamas bears witness to the experience of purification, illumination and glorification that inspires Hesychast saints, insisting that the light of purifying illumination and glorification is uncreated because God’s energies of light and glory are uncreated.  The noetic awareness of the heart is transfigured with uncreated light and deifying glory, opening hearts to the Hesychast experience of glorification, but prior to this experience, it may be difficult if not impossible to understand.  Since even those who experience glorification do not claim to understand it, the Tome is suggesting that ordinary rational understanding cannot be expected to define Hesychast glorification.  The wisdom that does discern the mysteries of glorification is uncreated, being the grace of wisdom that enlightens Hesychast elders and saints, to which the Athonite Tome and the Fifth Council of Constantinople (1341-1351) bear faithful witness.  There is a profound mystery at the heart of Holy Orthodoxy, which is the mystery of doxological glorification, and it is to this experience of glorification that the Tome bears steadfast witness in prophets and apostles, elders and saints.  Intrinsically ineffable, it can nevertheless be wholly trusted, because saints bear witness to it in every generation.

It is not that Hesychast experience is trusted  because the Tome gives it canonical authority, rather, the Tome has canonical authority because it enshrines the deifying experience of prophets and apostles, elders and saints.  Glorification is, therefore, crucial for Holy Orthodoxy, as is the grace of purification and illumination that sustains it.  Most Orthodox Christians trust their saints, but not all.  Problems arise when trust is undermined and saints are persecuted for their faithful practice of purifying illumination and glorification.  When saints are martyred, however, they may be canonised, which restores the coherence of Holy Orthodoxy from within.  The Tome acknowledges this, and bears witness to its wholesome efficacy.  The witness of Saint Sophrony the Hesychast was contested in his life-time by some whose knowledge of Orthodoxy was formal, not yet informed by glorification, but later it was confirmed by monks on the Holy Mountain and canonised by the Patriarchate of Constantinople.  This was entirely consistent with the Hagioritic Tome, which reminds saints of the importance of their living witness in every generation.

Glorification generated the Tome, and the Tome regenerates glorification in healthy Hesychast circles, both on the Holy Mountain and elsewhere.  The Tome and the Palamite Councils of 1341-1351 remind them that glorification lies hidden at the heart of Holy Orthodoxy, so when glorification is forgotten or set aside, degeneration begins to set in, extinguishing regeneration.  Elders commend self-emptying kenosis, in the image and likeness of Christ, to cure degeneration, restoring glory to God through illumined glorification.  By hallowing the Holy Name ‘I AM,’ Saint Sophrony renewed regenerative Hesychasm, restoring the purification and illumination of the heart that nourish and sustain glorification.  Wisdom bears witness to glorification whenever need arises, amply fulfilling the intentions of the Tome and the mystical theology of Saint Gregory Palamas.  Without the Tome, Orthodoxy might be vulnerable to degeneration from within, by falling short of the costly witness of the saints.  However, with the Tome, Hesychast wisdom stands steadfast, in spite of destructive storms and corrosive attacks.  Glorification purifies and enlightens elders and saints, whose witness regenerates Holy Orthodoxy, and whose regenerative influence renews Orthodox wisdom through glorification.