Companions of the Grail

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Companions of the Grail in Holy Orthodoxy do not speak of the Holy Grail or the Matter of Britain because the parousia of the Holy Eucharist and the parousia of the Holy Name are already intrinsic to their Holy Orthodoxy.  Hallows that shepherds of wisdom always regarded as quintessential, the Eucharist and the Name always lay at the heart of their wisdom.  It was in the Latin West that Cistercian monks renewed the legends of the Grail from old British traditions of King Arthur, Merlin and Grail knights , traditions that were filled out by Malory, Tennyson and Charles Williams himself, in the light of Dante and his companions of love.  Williams’ vision of the Grail was profoundly Orthodox, as was his way of affirmation and negation, Trifold co-inherence and exchange with Christllke substitution.  As an Anglo-Catholic who looked to Byzantium for his inspiration, Charles Williams re-envisioned the myth that embraces Holy Orthodoxy, with its ancient hallows, pointing to the wholesome integration of East and West under the Spirit-filled dispensation of Byzantium.  Companions of the Grail in the West interpreted the Grail in the light of the Parousia, the second coming of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and Christ’s revelation of his saving presence and glory in the Holy Name, both long treasured in the east. 

The second coming of Christ was intrinsic to the wisdom of early Chrisian circles from the first, but was a mystery of glory that was only in fact revealed when illumination unveiled glorification.  Prophets and Apostles knew glorification and transmitted its mysteries of purification and illumination to the saints, but when the Emperor Constantine imposed Christianity upon his empire, hardening hearts increasingly lost touch with illumined glorification.  The hallows were there, of course, but were no longer lived, loved and known by the vast majority who enjoyed the Peace of Rome.  This provoked the desert exile of many saints and elders, who retired to the wilderness of Syria and Egypt, Cappadocia and the western and northern isles, to welcome Christ’s Parousia coming with realms of glory in awakened hearts.  For them, the Grail hallows were their familiar home, their haven of rest and indwelling peace.  Holy Orthodoxy took partial root among laity in ethnic parishes but not always in awakened hearts, where neglect of glorification led to neglect of Grail mysteries of Parousia presence.

In the desert, companions of the Grail embraced Hesychast stillness, following the ways of affirmation of images in prophecy and the negation of images in pure prayer of the Spirit in the heart.  This ensured that purification of the heart grounded illumination and glorification, which resurrected hearts in light and glory.  Here, in the desert, the Grail was no legend but a living wisdom that wedded glory in the Holy of Holies of illumined, glorified hearts.  Parousia wisdom renewed Hesychast tradition in the Thebaid and Sinai deserts but also in Byzantium, in the Monastery of the Stoudion, where Saint Symeon the New Theologian met his father in God, the Elder Symeon, and where holy elders guided seers practicing glorification in the imperial court and City of Byzantium.  Saint Gregory Palamas renewed this same Hesychast wisdom on the Holy Mountain and within the City of Thessaloniki, as its Archbishop, inspiring centuries of co-inherent co-companionship that bore no obvious relationship with the Matter of Britain or Grail legends.  It was the parousia of glory that inspired this co-inherent Hesychast wisdom and renewed theophanic communion over intervening centuries, through illumination and glorification.  Parousia mysteries of glory gathered hearts into the Trifold and Christophanic co-inherence, where burdens are exchanged and shared, and Eucharistic lives are opened to the way, truth and life of the Holy Name.