22 August 2017


... the Virgin is Lady according to her worthiness, as being Mistress of all, since it was in virginity that she conceives and divinely gives birth to the One who by nature is Master of All. And of course she is still Lady as not only free from slavery, and possessed of divine lordship, but also as fount and root of the freedom of the race, and especially after the ineffable and joyful childbearing; for the woman who is yoked to a man is lorded rather than lady, and especially after after her sorrowful and painful childbearing according to the curse made against Eve ... the Virginmother, freeing the human race from this curse, receives joy and blessing from the angel; for he comes in and says: 'Hail Graced One, the Lord is with you, you are blessed among women'. The archangel is not proclaiming the future in saying 'The Lord is with you', but announcing what unseeing he sees at this very moment fulfilled. And knowing her to be the place of divine and human charisms, and adorned with all the charisms of the divine Spirit, truly he proclaims her Graced.

A little gem for you from the great and untranslatable hesychast father S Gregory Palamas. Sometimes I fantasise about the ecumenical day when Rome might feel able to add him to the Calendare Romanum Generale and to proclaim him a Doctor of the Church.

By the way, today, old Octave Day of the Assumption, is regarded by Dom Gueranger as quintessentially the day when we think of the Mother of God as Queen; among other quotations from the great masters of Christian spirituality, he gives us the passage from S Bernardine of Sienna which so enrages Marian minimalists: that even God obeys Mary. The post-Conciliar placing of Maria Regina on this day makes more obvious sense than the (Pius XII) Feast of her Immaculate Heart. Let nobody accuse me of being an unthinking critic of all post-Conciliar liturgical ideas. Although the Feast of the Immaculate Heart does bear with it notions of Divine Victory: her Immaculate Heart will triumph.

Today Blessed John Henry Newman began the wearing of the Miraculous Medal. And, centuries before, one of England's greatest bishops, John Grandisson of Exeter, chose to be enthroned this day and to order our Lady's Octave Day to be kept henceforth for ever as a feast of the highest rank. Furthermore, even though it was not the day of his death, he disposed that tomorrow be kept as his obit. I am sure that all right-thinking clerics will wish to remember him at Mass tomorrow. Grandisson was a Sound Bloke. Friend and protege of John XXII, he reacted to the threat of a Metropolitan Visitation by having the Archbishop of Canterbury repelled by his private army. Let nobody slander the Avignon Papacy in my hearing.

A very Anglican Patrimony Day. Perhaps the Ordinariate should bring in the cause for Grandisson's Beatification, as well as including the Miraculous Medal in our Mission Statement.


Unknown said...

Great post as always Father, but I find your ecumenical fantasy of Palamas rather strange...not that I can pretend to much in this question, but his position contains certain theological and philosophical difficutlies, and might I say, out right errors. And his manouevering into the See of Constaninople was far from edifying, but then again, I have never quite understood Byzantine ecclesiastical politics. Not that I am a Barlaamite, but his was the sounder position, I speak as an Aristotelian.

Fr PJM said...

Father, is the feast of the manifestation of the Miraculous Medal, November 27th, in the Ordinariate's Kalendar?

James Ignatius McAuley said...

Ashley Ritchie, respectdully, your comment reflects an ignorance of St. Gregory Palamas. As a corrective, I suggest you read Marcus Plestad's supberb work "Orthodox Readings od Aquinas," (OUP). Also, St. Gregory was never held the see of Constantinople, but that of Thessalonica. Finally so what if St. Gregory held certain theological and philosophical errors? St. Thomas Aquinas and St
Augustine did, too. We do not hold the perfect as the enemy of the good.

Unknown said...

Mr McAuley, thank you for your kind remonstration. As I mentioned above, my knowledge in this matter is rather limited. You are quite right that Palamas never became Patriarch of Constantinople; I ought to have said however, that his hand in procuring a Palamite patriarch for that See was none too edifying. I wrote that comment off (evidently poor) memory of my reading of the comprehensive article on Palamas by the Reverend Fr Martin Jugie in the 'Dictionnaire de theologie catholique'. An article which caused quite a reaction among the 'chic' Russian orthodox intellectuals of the time...one of whom was a disciple of Etienne Gilson. The errors of Palamas, at least from a scholastic view point are, Fr Jugie did not scruple to say it, heretical. One can hardly claim the same of Sts Augustine and Thomas. The Catholic Church has pronounced in strong terms her preference for the Thomistico-Aristotelian system; a system which utterly repudiates the Palamite division of Essence and Energy in God, Who is Pure Act and entirely simple, that is without any division whatsoever.

James Ignatius McAuley said...


Sorry for the late response Father Jugie's article is quite dated and misleading on some point, though he was one of the first to show Palamas use of Augustine. I direct you again to Plestad's superb book. It will show you that the so called repudiation of the Palamite positon by a Thomitico-Aristotelian System is a false dichotomy. Another book to follow up with that demolishes this is the incredible book by Father Christiaan Kappes, The Immaculate Conception: Why Thomas Aquinas denied, while John Duns Scotus, Gregory Palamas and Mark Eugenicus Professed the absolute Immaculate Existence of Mary. Mark Eugenicus bein Mark of Ephesus.

If you ever read a sermon on Mary by Palamas you will note that they are just like Proclus of Constantinople and Germans of Constantinople in their beautiful sermons on Mary.

By the way, I am a Ukrainian Greek Catholic and we have no problem with Palamas, who is a saint for us (and thus you, too, as we are in communion) as well as with good ole Thomas.

Unknown said...

Mr McAuley,

I shall have a look at the book. Although from the reviews I have seen, it seems that it does not entirely clear up the divide between Palamas and Aquinas (one reviewer stated that Orthodox intrest in Aquinas brought Palamites closer to Scotus- hardly a better solution from a Thomistic point of view) Fr Jugie's article is somewhat dated, but I fail to see how the main gist of his arguments are invalidated by that?

Also, the book reference viz the Immaculate Conception is unrelated here. And St Thomas did not deny the Immaculate Conception, Medieval notions of biology were somewhat fanciful; conception was understood as first the generation of the body and then forty days after the rational soul was infused (grosso modo). St Thomas denied the Immaculate Conception from the moment of conception (as he believed Our Lady had no soul as of yet.)

Also, the question of the Immaculate Conception was not a defined dogma; theological speculation was still permitted back then. But my problem with Palamas is his philosophy and the way it affects his theology- which does create problems from a philosophical and metaphysical point of view in the Thomistic system. I am no Theologian, but I do have a philosophical formation, and it is on those grounds that I have an issue with Palamas (and Scotus too).

Now I am fully aware that St Gregory Palamas is honoured by the Uniate Churches, and that Duns Scot is Blessed. That the Church has recognised the personal sanctity of these men is indisputable, but that is not an automatic approval of their theological and philosophical opinions (unless stated otherwise). The Blessed Antonio Rosmini's philosophical speculations were soundly condemned, and rightly so, but it did not prevent him being beatified. Scotus, and as we saw in Father's post, Palamas have said wonderful things about Our Lady- they were great men in love with God and His Saints, but their personal goodness is not an infalliable remedy against error.

On those grounds, I (which hardly matters) have difficulties understanding how St Gregory could be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church...which Father fancifully imagained happening in a future ecumenical day. But that would be an ecumenical matter (as Fr Jack would say) and I am only speaking as a lowly philosopher.