Grace and Glory

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Wisdom remains hidden whilst purification is curing pride, but is revealed when illumination begins to heal the confusions of pride and divisions of vainglory.  Self-condemnation to hell without despair condemns pride to hell and so is actually the initial unveiling of the energy of uncreated light, curing pride and opening wisdom to glory purified of vanity.  Grace takes this form because pride cannot cure itself, but needs to be freed of its self-interested presumption.  Illumination subsumed by pride may degenerate into satanic delusion that requires purification, which grace heals by liberating wisdom from pride, revealing self-condemnation to be the condemnation of pride and the dismantling of the hells of pride which impose separation from God.  As grace begins to cure pride, uncreated light begins to communicate illumination, so that wisdom can begin to unveil the glory of grace.  Uncreated love illumines the awakened  eye of the heart by communicating the deifying energies of glory, love’s glory which imparts the mysteries of glorification.  Grace reveals glory through illumination, which is why Holy Orthodoxy speaks of grace as an unfolding of purification, illumination and glorification.

Grace cannot, however, unveil glory without wisdom discerning the glory of grace.  Enlightening wisdom is uncreated grace that discerns the glory of grace, mediating Christ’s ascending light and deifying glory in ways that cure pride and heal vainglory.  The reason that purification cannot, of itself, discern what lies beyond it, is that pride subverts wisdom and vainglory prevents glory from being glorification of God.  Indeed, purification needs illumination if purification is to cure pride, liberating glory from vanity, thereby shifting the centre of gravity from purification to illumination.  Similarly, illumination, of itself, cannot discern the mysteries of glorification until wisdom discerns the glory inherent in grace.  It is therefore wisdom that shifts the centre of gravity from illumination to glorification, unveiling the mysteries of glory in the uncreated light of grace.  There is a sense in which the trajectory of grace can only be embraced by wisdom unveiling the mysteries of glorification.  Incomprehensible from below, wisdom’s discernment of glory can only be experienced from above.  Humility may, indeed, be endless, as Saint Sophrony taught, but pride can put a stop to it unless it is purified by enlightened wisdom.

The sacred function of wisdom has nothing to do with gnostic superiority but with the simple and humble acknowledgment of the glory of grace, grace which is not proud achievement but sheer gift.  But grace cannot unveil its glory to wisdom until pride begins to dissolve and wisdom burns vanity out of vainglory, releasing pure glory to generate glory without end.  The reason that hiddenness is temporarily unavoidable is that wisdom is hidden from below, until wisdom is able to discern glory from above.  It has nothing to do with pride imposing gnostic secrets from above, but wisdom unveiling glory in accordance with the heart’s capacity to open to grace.  From below, wisdom is always misconstrued and misinterpreted, because the misperceptions of pride and vainglory intervene.  From above, grace can at last be grace and therefore wisdom becomes able to discern the glory of grace.  Purification is truly purification only when illumination awakens wisdom that discerns the mysteries of glorification.  Without wisdom, glory remains hidden, because pride gets in the way.  With wisdom, glory humbly opens to deifying glorification without boundaries, freed to the extent this is possible, from the enslaving bondage of pride and the imprisoning clutches of vainglory.  Wisdom discerns that grace has always been glorious from the beginning and remains glorious to the end, but it is wisdom, not pride’s subtle parodies such as clever reasoning,  that discerns the glory of this gracious completeness.