Jordan Aumann O.P.: Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition



Monasticism began toward the end of the third century as the result of the efforts of ascetical Christians to live a more perfect life. Although it would eventually constitute a distinct state of life in the Church, at the beginning it was a manner of life available to any Christian who wanted to give an authentic witness to the teaching of Christ. The monastic movement began so quietly that historians are unable to describe its origin with exactitude and it was not until the I93o's that there was any serious investigation into the matter.(1) However, there seems to be some connection between the end of the persecution of the Church and the flourishing of asceticism that was a prelude to the monastic movement. Thus, according to Fénelon: "The persecution made less solitaries than did the peace and triumph of the Church. The Christians, simple and opposed to any softness, were more fearful of a peace that might be gratifying to the senses than they had been of the cruelty of the tyrants."(2)


In the earliest days of the Church the supreme witness to Christ was martyrdom, although even in those times there were ascetics and also men and women who vowed to live a celibate life. When the persecutions ended, the ascetics and the celibates were placed in a difficult situation; in a world that was tolerant of Christians it was almost inevitable that relaxation should set in and that some Christians should become worldly.(3) As long as they were considered enemies of the State, it was relatively easy to avoid contact with pagan society and to practice their religion within the confines of the small Christian communities; and if they were arrested, they could hope for the coveted crown of martyrdom. But once Christians obtained their freedom and Christianity became the official religion, "it is no longer the pagan world that fights and eliminates the martyr; it is the hermit that takes up the attack and eliminates the world from his being."(4)

From the beginning of the second century there are references to ascetics who lived a life of continence and it seems that the state of virginity was approved by the Church and held in reverence by the faithful. Both St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch speak of Christian men and women who had embraced a celibate life, and for both of these authors the primary purpose of the celibate life is to imitate Christ in that respect.(5) There are numerous texts from the third century that describe the role of virgins and other celibates in the life of the Church; the treatises by Tertullian and St. Cyprian are especially noteworthy.(6) Finally, in the fourth century the authors who praised virginity were even more numerous: St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and Cassian.(7)

At the start, the ascetics, virgins and other celibates remained in their own homes, living with their families and sharing in the common life of the local church. Sometimes they organized themselves into groups, similar to confraternities or chapters of a Third Order. Eventually a rule of life was composed and promulgated by various authors such as St. Ambrose, St. Jerome and St. Caesarius of Arles. Moreover, in order to be approved by ecclesiastical authority, men and women desirous of consecrating themselves to God in celibacy could make a vow to this effect into the hands of the bishop. Thus as early as 3o6 the Council of Elvira in Spain imposed sanctions on virgins who had been unfaithful to their consecration to God and their vow of virginity. At the same time the Council of Ancyra (314) declared that consecrated virgins who marry were guilty of bigamy, since they were espoused to Christ. In 364 the civil law, under Valens, declared that anyone who married a consecrated virgin was subject to the death penalty.

According to the canonical legislation, virgins were required to wear a black tunic and a black veil, which was to be blessed and bestowed on them by the bishop at the time of their consecration. They could live in their own homes but they were not to leave the house without real necessity. The prescribed prayers were to be recited, alone or in a group, at the traditional hours of nine o'clock in the morning, at twelve noon, and at three o'clock in the afternoon. In addition to this, they were to rise during the night to chant psalms. At Jerusalem both men and women celibates usually joined the clergy for prayer at the prescribed hours. In the fourth century at Rome Marcella and Asela welcomed the virgins and widows into their home for prayer and spiritual reading.

The regulation on fasting was severe and it lasted throughout the entire year, exceptions being made for reasons of health. One meal a day was permitted, and only after three o'clock in the afternoon. It consisted of bread and vegetables and was preceded and followed by appropriate prayers. As regards works of mercy, the virgins were encouraged to share their simple fare with the poor, to visit the sick and to perform any works of mercy befitting their state of life.

Both in the East and in the West the practice of cohabitation was introduced for a time. Clerics or celibate men shared the homes of the virgins to protect them and to provide for their spiritual needs. Inevitably this situation led to abuses that were sharply criticized by bishops and preachers, such as St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, and the pseudo-Clement (author of the treatise Ad Virgines, composed in the middle of the third century). Ultimately ecclesiastical legislation was drawn up for the protection of the virtue of consecrated virgins and to guarantee that they would be faithful to their commitment. These regulations contributed in no small measure to the development of truly monastic communities of consecrated virgins and the recognition by the Church of the religious life as a distinct state of life.

It should be noted, however, that the vocation to married life among the early Christians was not only the normal calling but that Christian matrimony and family life were a forceful witness to the teachings of Christ. St. Paul not only offered advice to husbands and wives and their children (cf. I Con 7:1-40; a Cor. 6:14-18; Eph. 5:21-33; 6:1-4; Col. 3:18-24), but he used the union of husband and wife as a symbol of Christ's union with the Church (cf. Eph. 5:25-3o). In fact, the ceremony of the consecration of virgins was itself based on the marriage rite. The veiling of the virgin, taken from the Roman wedding custom, was a symbol of her marriage with Christ, and in the Middle Ages it was customary to give the consecrated virgin a ring and a crown, which were also marriage symbols. The celibate life and separation from the world did not connote a disdain for marriage or a Manichaean condemnation of created things.


A variety of opinions persists throughout the centuries concerning the sources of Christian monasticism. The following nonChristian types of monastic life have been proposed at one time or another as the inspiration and model of Christian monasticism: the recluses of Serapis in Egypt; the ascetical life of the Buddhists; the Essenians who dwelt as monks near the Red Sea about ISO BC; the Jewish ascetics, called Therapeutae, who lived near Alexandria; the gnostics of Neoplatonism; the asceticism of the religion of Mithra. Vicaire, who is an authority on this question, draws the following conclusion:

Note that, regardless of the error on which Eusebius and Cassian rest a good part of their theories, . . . it is indeed exact that monasticism was inspired from its beginning -- not exclusively, but truly -- by a desire to imitate the apostles and the first Christians.

Certainly there are elements in monasticism which are not specifically Christian but common to every effort for interior perfection. This general basis of human spirituality explains the existence of real analogies between the monastic institution and institutions far from it both in time and in space .... Nevertheless the most fundamental Christian factor which historians have discovered in the origins of monasticism is a powerful "nostalgia for the early Church."The principal expression of this was the wish to take up the "apostolic life," that is to say, the Christian mentality communicated by the apostles to the early Church and lived by them. This is not surprising if it is remembered that the early monks were convinced of the universality of the formula of the Christian life described in the Acts.(8)

Dom Germain Morin substantiates the foregoing statement when he says that what was new at the beginning of the fourth century was not the monastic type of life but the adaptation to the world by many Christians when the persecutions ended. Actually, the monks and hermits did nothing but try to preserve intact the ideal of the Christian life as lived from the beginning.(9) St. John Chrysostom (+ 407) asserted that monasteries were necessary because the world was not Christian; let it be converted, and the need for the monastic separation will disappear.(10)

Indeed, St. John Chrysostom presents an interesting paradox in the last half of the fourth century. An ascetic by temperament and by practice and always a lover of the contemplative life, he nevertheless dedicated all his energies to the active life as a preacher and a director of souls. In his younger days he had spent four years in the cenobitic life and two years as a hermit, but he seems to have practiced such harsh austerities that his health was endangered and he had to return to Antioch. There he devoted himself to the ministry, first as a deacon, then as a priest, and finally as bishop of Constantinople.

Among his earliest writings are three treatises in defense of the monastic life which contribute nothing to the theology of Christian monasticism; Bouyer refers to them as an "asceticism without mysticism."(11) His treatise on the priesthood, however, written while he was still a deacon, indicates St. John's awareness of a spirituality that is truly sacerdotal and not monastic. He later extended his efforts to the promotion of the spirituality of the laity. He insisted that their basic spiritual exercises should consist in reading and meditating on Scripture and the worthy reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Perfection, said St. John Chrysostom, is the vocation not only of monks but also of Christians in the world.(12)

Monasticism in the East was of two types: the eremitical life of hermits or anchorites and the cenobitic life of monks. The model of the eremitical life was Antony of Egypt, who retired to the solitary life at the age of twenty and died in 356 at the age of 105. The Life of St. Antony, written by St. Athanasius in 357, is the most important source of information on the eremitical life. Another helpful document is the Apophthegmata Patrum or sayings of illustrious hermits. Finally, as representative of a later and more structured monastic life, we should mention the Historia monachorum in Aegypto, which describes the life of the monks at the end of the fourth century, and the Historia Lausiaca, written by Palladius (+ 431) to describe the monastic life in Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Asia Minor.(13)

As recorded by St. Athanasius, St. Antony taught that meditation on the last things strengthens the soul against one's passions and against the devil. If Christians would live each day as if they were to die that day, they would never sin. In the struggle against the devil's wiles, the unfailing weapons are faith, prayer, fasting and the Sign of the Cross. Since the hermit carries with him into solitude his own imperfections and evil tendencies, and since the devil seems to attack the hermit with special ferocity, the life of a solitary is essentially a warfare and a struggle. An individual may flee from the world, but in the desert he will be brought face to face with his own sinfulness and the devil, who goes about seeking whom he can devour (I Pet. 5:8).

Another important lesson taught by St. Antony is that the hermit seeks both interior and.exterior solitude in order to give himself completely to God. Consequently, he cannot allow any created thing to occupy his heart, because only he who has practiced total detachment can experience the full force of charity. But lest the hermit fall a victim to pride and self-love, he must, as a disciple of Christ, practice love of neighbor; and he can do this by immolating himself for the salvation of souls, by his prayers for others, and by supporting them in the faith through his spiritual counseling. Indeed, according to St. Antony, the solitary must be willing to leave his desert when the good of the Church or the good of souls require it.

A number of disciples were attracted to St. Antony by his austere manner of life and they frequently sought his advice. Gradually, the eremitical life spread to other places. St. Ammon (+ 350), who had lived as a celibate with his wife, retired with her to the Nitrian Valley and founded a monastic colony. There was no common rule, and each solitary occupied himself as he saw fit, although they all gathered together on Saturdays and Sundays for liturgy and a homily in the church. According to Palladius, there were at one time approximately five thousand hermits in the Valley of Nitria.

To the south, in the desert of Scete, Macarius of Egypt (+ 390) and his disciples led an even more solitary life. Meanwhile, Macarius of Alexandria (+ 394) settled with his followers in the desert of Cellia. Evagrius Ponticus also joined that colony and remained there until his death in 399. The austerities practiced by these solitaries were incredibly severe and some of them would today be branded as masochistic. Palladius, the author of Historia Lausiaca, also describes many of the prodigies and marvels performed by the ancient hermits but even in doing so, he stated that he feared that nobody would believe some of them; for example, that Macarius of Alexandria spent an entire season of Lent on his feet, day and night, and during that time subsisted on nothing but cabbage leaves.

The anchorites of Egypt seem to have had a great influence on those of Syria, but there the solitaries became eccentric to the extreme. Rejecting any kind of discipline, they preferred to lead a nomadic existence in wild and desert places; they refused to do any manual labor because they were committed to a life of perpetual prayer. In Palestine, on the other hand, the ascetics observed greater stability, attaching themselves to the holy places in order to be protected and to carry on divine worship. By the fourth century numerous pilgrims joined their ranks and among their visitors were St. Jerome, St. Paula and John Cassian.

At the same time that the eremitical life was flourishing in Egypt, another form of monastic life -- the cenobitic -- was introduced by St. Pachomius, who was born at Esna, near Thebes. In 318, after having served in the army and then having lived for some time under the guidance of the monk Palamon, Pachomius settled on the eastern bank of the Nile, north of Thebes. The gradual development of the cenobitic life took place as other ascetics joined Pachomius. He regarded this style of life as superior to that of a simple solitary:

The life of a cenobite is more perfect than that of an anchorite, by reason of the virtues which daily association with the brethren obliges one to practice. Moreover, the brethren are inspired by seeing the labors and virtues of others. Those who are imperfect enable us to practice mortification, and those who are perfect show us the path we should follow.
When the number of monks reached 100, Pachomius constructed a second monastery, some distance from Thebes, and within a few years there were nine such monasteries. Each monastery was like a little town, consisting of several buildings, each housing about forty monks, and the entire complex surrounded by a wall. St. Pachomius also founded a monastery of nuns, at the request of his sister, and he located it near the men's monastery, but separated by a swift-flowing river which no monk was allowed to cross, except the priest who celebrated the liturgy for the nuns.

The rule composed by St. Pachomius consisted of 192 regulations that reveal the prudence and moderation of the legislator. Each monastery was governed by an abbot or archimandrite, to whom the monks were to give complete obedience. Various monks were named as officials in lesser categories, such as infirmarian, hebdomadarian, bursar, etc. Meals and prayers were community exercises and each monk contributed any earnings to the common fund. Unfortunately, some of the monks saw only the material advantages to the common life but refused to obey Pachomius in other matters. His patience served only to encourage them in their egotism and disobedience. Finally Pachomius took a stand; the monks must either obey according to the rule or leave the monastery.

Now, when you are called to the synaxis, you will all come, and you will not act toward me as you have done .... Likewise, when you are called to meals, you will come together, and not behave as you have been doing .... If you are still inclined to disobey the instructions I have given you, you may go wherever you please. "The earth is the Lord's, with all that is in it" (Ps. 23: r ). And if you want to go somewhere else, do as you will; so far as I am concerned, I will not keep you here any longer, unless you conform to the instructions I have given you.(14)
For Pachomius, obedience was the very foundation of the cenobitic life -- obedience to the rule and to the superior. At the same time, he was willing to make adaptations so that all the monks could feel that they were living up to their commitment to the monastic life. Thus, Pachomius stated: "Don't you know that certain brethren, especially the younger ones, have need of relaxation and rest?" On another occasion he commanded: "Provide an abundance at table, so that each one may deny himself and grow in virtue in the measure of his fervor." In other words, each monk was permitted to eat as much as his health or work required, and the manual labor assigned to the individual was in proportion to his strength.

The monastic observances prescribed by the rule of St. Pachomius were adopted by the lauras of Palestine, founded by St. Hilarion and perfected by St. Theodosius. In fact, many of the customs later observed by the monastic and mendicant orders of the West had their origins in the Pachomian monasteries. Thus, St. Pachomius insisted on a period of postulancy and novitiate before a candidate could be definitively admitted to the monastic life. There was a vestition ceremony at the beginning of the novitiate, at which time the postulant was clothed in the habit of a monk, consisting of a linen tunic, a cowl and a cloak made of goatskin. Admission to the novitiate was contingent on the favorable vote of the professed monks; and after a successful novitiate, dedicated largely to manual labor, formation in obedience, and the memorizing of lengthy portions of Scripture, the young monk made his vow to live according to the rule.

In the Pachomian monasteries the superior gave spiritual conferences to the community several times a week; the monks assisted at the liturgy and received the Eucharist on Saturdays and Sundays in a nearby church if none of the monks were priests. Manual tasks were assigned each morning by the superior of the monastery, and silence was strictly observed, especially at meals. Fasting was prescribed on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, and on those days only one meal was eaten, but in Lent every day was a fast day. The monks abstained totally from meat and wine and never took food outside of meal-time. They wore their cowls while they ate; they slept fully clothed, not in a bed, but on a reclining chair, and the doors of their cells were always open.

By the time St. Pachomius died in 346 a large number of monastic communities were flourishing in Egypt. However, it was in Asia Minor, under the leadership of St. Basil (+ 379), that monasticism took a new turn; from a popular, ascetical form of life available to all, "it was to become a school of learned spirituality, wholly permeated with the heritage of Alexandria and, above all, of Origen."(15) As a result of his contributions to the theology and structure of the cenobitic life, St. Basil is commonly hailed as the father of monasticism in the East, at least of monasticism as a well-defined way of life or particular vocation.

Born in 330, Basil studied at Caesarea, Constantinople and Athens. At Caesarea he met Gregory Nazianzen and the two became fast friends. Both of them came into contact with the pagan Gnosticism of the Greeks and the Arian heresy; later, Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa (the brother of Basil) defended the transcendence of God and the divinity of Christ against the Arians. They also incorporated orthodox, Christian Gnosticism into monastic spirituality.

While still young, Basil felt called to the ascetical life. He travelled to Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia, where he followed the monastic style of life for a time. Then, returning to his homeland, he distributed all his possessions to the poor and lived as a solitary until he was named bishop in 370. Although he gained great renown as an anchorite, St. Basil never considered the monastic life as exceptional or as a special vocation; he even avoided using the term "monk" and referred to hermits and monks simply as Christians. For St. Basil and for some of the other Fathers the monastic life was the logical consequence of the commitment made by the Christian at baptism. The fact that the monastic life was held up to the ordinary faithful as the ideal demonstrates that in these early centuries there was only one spirituality for all Christians: the authentic vita apostolica, and it constituted the perfection of the Christian life.(16)

Yet this very insistence on the monastic life -- and indeed the contemplative life -- as the perfection of the Christian life gave rise to further questions. Are there, after all, two classes of Christians -- the perfect and the ordinary? If monasticism is the ideal, are married Christians excluded from the possibility of attaining Christian perfection? Or are there two kinds of perfection, one ordinary and the other extraordinary? These questions have been posed again and again throughout the history of Christian spirituality.

St. Basil, however, did not look favorably on the strictly eremitical life nor on total separation from human society. When asked whether a monk formed in the cenobitic life could retire to the desert, he replied: "This is nothing but a mark of self-will and remains foreign to those who honor God."(17) In his defense of the. common life of cenobites, Basil bases his argument on the precept of charity:

Who does not know, indeed, that man is a gentle and sociable being, and not solitary or savage? Nothing is as proper to our nature as to enter one another's society, to have need of one another, and to love the man who is of our race. After having given us these seeds which he has cast into our hearts, the Lord came to claim their fruits and he said: "1 give you a new commandment: to love one another" (Jn. i 3:34). . . . What did he say to them? "All will know that you are my disciples by the love that you have for one another" (Jn. i3:35)- Everywhere he unites these precepts to such an extent that he refers to himself the good deeds of which our neighbor is the object .... "Everything that you did to the least of my brethren, you did to me" (Mt. IS: 3 5-40). And so, by means of the first precept, it is possible to observe the second, and by the second to go back to the first .... "My commandment is that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn. 15:12).(18)
St. Basil was not in favor of large communities; he preferred that they be small so that the common life could foster the recollection of the monks and the superior could relate to the monks, and the monks to each other, on a more personal level. The daily schedule called for community prayer, the study of sacred doctrine (and especially of the works of Origen), manual labor, mitigated asceticism and an apostolate that was compatible with the monastic life. The rule composed by St. Basil became the standard legislation for monasticism in the East, and it had a great influence on the monks of the West as well.


Unlike his close friend Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzen (+ 389 or 390) was strongly attracted to the eremitical life and in particular to the gnostic meditation of Origen. Together with St. Gregory of Nyssa, he introduced what has been called "learned monasticism." These three men were not only monks but bishops as well, yet their personalities differed greatly. St. Basil was a practical man, totally dedicated to the service of the Church in a position of responsibility and authority; St. Gregory Nazianzen was basically a poetic and contemplative type, drawn to solitude, asceticism and study, although outstanding as a preacher when he engaged in the pastoral ministry; St. Gregory of Nyssa was an intellectual and, according to Bouyer, "one of the most powerful and most original thinkers ever known in the history of the Church."(19)

During his monastic period St. Basil collaborated with St. Gregory Nazianzen on an anthology of the works of Origen, but after he became a priest and later a bishop, his literary productions were in the fields of moral theology and spirituality. His Moralia (PG 3I,7oo-869) is a collection of eighty rules and instructions based on texts of Scripture, and although they were addressed to Christians in general, they also served as a doctrinal basis for the monastic life. The Regulae fusius tractatae (PG 3 1, 889-.1052) and the Regulae brevius tractatae (PG 31, 1080-1305) were written in the form of questions and answers, based on Basil's conversations with monastic communities he had visited.(20)

St. Basil has been called a Roman among the Greeks because on the one hand he was eminently practical and moralistic and on the other hand he did not disdain to make use of philosophical ideas and expressions in the formulation of his ethical teaching. Like Plato and Plotinus, he could see that the human person was a strange blending of the spiritual and the physical; consequently the renunciation of sensate pleasures constitutes the very core of the ascetical life. Another element of asceticism is the obligation to comply with all the moral precepts and commandments, and even to observe the evangelical counsels. This does not mean that St. Basil was proposing the monastic life as suitable for all Christians, but simply insisting that all should strive to live the Gospel teaching as perfectly as possible. He did not condemn marriage, but neither did he extol it. As we have stated previously, St. Basil considered the monastic community to be the best possible imitation of the primitive Church in Jerusalem; that is why he was so energetic in promoting the monastic life and why he considered cenobitic monasticism superior to the eremitical life.

St. Gregory Nazianzen, close friend of St. Basil, led a life of continual fluctuation between the contemplative life and the sacerdotal ministry. Having spent some time as a monk, he would have remained so if he had been able to resist the insistence of the Christian faithful that he be ordained a priest. Later, ordained a bishop by Basil, he eventually accepted the administration of the Church at Constantinople. After two years, during which time he became renowned as an orator, he resigned from Constantinople and returned to his former diocese of Nazianzus but remained there for only two years. The five or six years prior to his death in 389 or 390 were spent in study, contemplation and monastic practices.

The writings of St. Gregory Nazianzen consist of the following: numerous sermons (PG, Vol. 35 and 36), approximately 400 poems (PG, Vol. 37 and 38), his letters (PG, Vol. 37) and an autobiography. Gregory reveals himself in his works as eminently mystical and contemplative; indeed, he taught that the perfection of the Christian life culminates in contemplation. The goal of Christian spirituality is as perfect an imitation of Christ as is possible, and to attain this, one must eliminate everything that could be an obstacle to union with Christ. Hence, says Gregory:

I must be buried with Christ, rise with him, inherit heaven with him, become son of God, become God .... This is what is the great mystery for us; this is what God incarnate is for us .... He has come to make us perfectly one in Christ, in the Christ who has come perfectly into us, to put within us all that he is. There is no longer man nor woman, barbarian nor Scythian, slave nor free man (Col. 3: 1 i ), characteristic of the flesh; there is now only the divine image that we all bear within us, according to which we have been created, which must be formed in us and impressed on us.(21)

Then we shall be deiform, because we shall possess in ourselves God whole and entire and God alone. Such is the perfection to which we are tending.(22)

As if to justify his constant yearning for the eremitical life, St. Gregory Nazianzen delivered a beautiful tribute to that style of life shortly after his ordination to the priesthood:
To me, nothing seems preferable to the state of the man who, dosing his senses to exterior impressions, escaping from the flesh and the world, re-entering into himself, retaining no further contact with any human beings except when necessity absolutely requires it, conversing with himself and with God, lives beyond visible things and carries within himself the divine images, always pure, untouched by any admixture with the passing forms of this earth; having become truly and becoming each day more truly the spotless mirror of the divinity and of divine things, receiving their light in his light, their resplendent brightness in his more feeble brightness, in his hope gathering already the fruits of the future life, living in association with the angels, still on this earth and yet outside of it, carried even to. the higher regions by the Spirit. If there is one of you who is possessed by this love, he knows what I am trying to say and will pardon my weakness.(23)
St. Gregory of Nyssa was educated by his brother, St. Basil, and afterwards ordained a lector, but he soon abandoned that function, opened a school of rhetoric and married. After the death of his wife he was persuaded by Gregory Nazianzen to enter the monastery founded by Basil in Pontus. In 371 Gregory was ordained bishop of Nyssa, but five years later he was accused of financial negligence and deposed by a synod in 376. However, when the Arian Emperor Valens died in 378, Gregory returned to Nyssa, and when his brother Basil died in 379, he dedicated himself to ecclesiastical affairs and became a great leader of the Church in Cappadocia until his death in 394.

Most of Gregory's writings were composed in the period extending from 382 to 394. His dogmatic works were directed to the refutation of the Arian heresy and the Christological heresy of Apollinaris, and an explanation of Catholic belief in the Trinity. He also composed a summary of Catholic doctrine, Oratio catechetica magna (PG 45, 9-106), and wrote several works of scriptural exegesis, one of them a continuation of Basil's commentary on Genesis and the other a treatise on man. The rest of his exegetical works treat of Christian perfection and mystical union: De vita Moysis (PG 44, 297-430); In psalmorum inscriptiones (PG 44, 431-608); In ecclesiasten homiliae (PG 44, 616-753); In Canticum Canticorum (PG 44, 756-1120); De oratione dominica (PG 44, 1120-1193); De beatitudinibus (PG 44, 1193-1302). Finally, among his strictly ascetical writings we find De virginitate (PG 46, 317-416), composed before he became a bishop; De vita Macrinae (PG 46, 959-1000), the life of his own sister and'a marvelous example of early hagiography; De instituto christiano (PG 46, 287-306), a definitive synthesis of his teaching on Christian spirituality; De perfectione (PG 46, 251-286) and De castigatione (PG 46, 307-316). It is only in recent times that St. Gregory of Nyssa has been properly appreciated, and this is due in large part to the scholarly work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Jean DaniÉlou, Werner Jaeger and Walther Völker.(24)

The first thing the reader notices in the writings of Gregory of Nyssa is his generous use of concepts and terminology borrowed from Greek philosophy; so much so, that he has been accused of pure Platonism.(25) As a philosopher, Gregory did follow the system of Plato; as a theologian he was influenced by Origen, but without falling into the errors of the latter.(26) Quasten has shown that Gregory did not hesitate to criticize pagan philosophy and to compare it with the barren daughter of the Egyptian king (Ex. 2:1-10): "Childless indeed is pagan philosophy; always in pains of childbirth, it never engenders living offspring. What fruit has philosophy brought forth worthy of such labor?" Nevertheless, "there is, indeed, something in pagan learning which is worthy of being united to us for the purpose of engendering virtue. It must not be rejected.(27)

St. Gregory states the following rule for the use of philosophy in relation to revealed truths: "We are not allowed to affirm what we please. We make Holy Scripture the rule and the measure of every tenet. We approve of that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings.(28) Bouyer describes Gregory's method as follows:

The basis of Gregory's thought, in fact, remains -- Christian and biblical, at the school of Origen, whom he understood perhaps better than anyone else, but used with the sovereign freedom which is always his .... In general, his thought goes through three successive stages. At the starting point comes the biblical, Christian intuition, grasped in a text or a theme that he draws from tradition, Philo or Origen often being his guides. Then comes the compact and very personal expression of this intuition in the philosophic language that is his own, and here we must be on guard against too quickly interpreting its terms as we might if we found them in Plato, in later Stoicism, or even in Plotinus. And, finally, this thought is unfolded by a return to the Bible in which the connections, not only with a single isolated text, but with the whole current of tradition, are indicated and justified.

One last feature characteristic of his time has been brought out very happily by Fr. Daniélou: we must never forget that the context of his most personal meditations always remains liturgical. It is within baptismal and eucharistic perspectives that his thoughts develop and that his spirituality is to be understood.(29)

St. Gregory of Nyssa never denied for a moment the duality of matter and spirit, as described by Plato, but he prefers the Pauline and theological duality of the will of the sinner and the will of God. The integration of the two extremes can be effected only through the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist, by which the redemptive mystery of the risen Christ is applied to man. The perfection of the Christian, therefore, consists in participation in the mystery of Christ. What man must do to achieve this participation, apart from the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist, is explained by Gregory in his De instituto christiano.(30)

What Gregory proposes to teach in this work, written specifically for monks, is that Christian perfection is the goal of life and that it is possible of attainment because of the knowledge of the truth that God has provided for those who wish it. What St. Gregory understands by knowledge or gnosis is the knowledge of the distinction between good and evil (Heb. 5:t4) or the difference between true good and apparent good. Ultimately, it is the knowledge of God himself as revealed in the word of God and expressed in the tradition of the Church. But true contemplation of the Scripture is given only to those who act under the impulse and guidance of the Holy Spirit. And how does the monk prepare himself to receive the Holy Spirit? St. Gregory answers:

He who desires, therefore, to lead his body and his soul to God in accordance with the law of religion and to consecrate to him a pure worship .. . must make the faith which the saints have taught in the Scriptures the guide of his life and he must give himself up to the pursuit of virtue by obeying this faith perfectly. He must free himself completely from the chains of earthly life and put away once and for all any slavery to what is base and vain. By this and his life, he must become wholly God's possession, knowing well that he who has faith and purity of life has the power of Christ as well, and where there is the power of Christ there is also deliverance from the evil and the death that ravage our life.(31)
For St. Gregory, therefore, baptism is the pledge of the work of the Spirit in man and the Eucharist is its sustenance, but the Christian does not arrive at the full stature of Christ until he exerts increasing efforts in the ascetical life. "For the body grows without us," says Gregory, "but the measure and beauty of the soul in the renewal of its conception, which is given it by the grace of the Spirit through the zeal of him who receives it, depends on our disposition: to the degree that you develop your struggles for piety, to the same degree also the grandeur of your soul develops through these struggles and these efforts."(32) Eventually the soul can reach the heights of gnosis, which is "a mutual compenetration, God coming into the soul and the soul being transported in God." This is the high point of agape.(33)

In Homily XI on the Song of Songs, St. Gregory describes the three stages in which God revealed himself to Moses: first in the light of the burning bush, then in the cloud of the exodus, and finally in total darkness. Similarly, the soul first finds God in the visible things of creation; but as the soul advances, the intellect serves as a cloud to cover everything sensate so that the soul may be prepared to contemplate that which is hidden; and when the soul has abandoned all earthly things, so far as is possible to human nature, it enters the sanctuary of the knowledge of God, completely enveloped in the divine darkness. It is this experience of God in darkness that St. Gregory calls true theology (theognosis).

St. Gregory has been described by Harvanek as a dogmatic theologian, a philosopher and an ascenco-mystical writer.(34) His writings serve as a link with the great theologians of Alexandria, with Maximus and with the Byzantine school. According to Bouyer, the teaching of St. Gregory had three well-defined effects on Christian spirituality: it was popularized by Macarius of Egypt (+ 390) among the monks; it was further developed by Evagrius Ponticus (+ 399); and it prepared the way for the writings of the pseudo-Dionysius (+530).(35)


According to Bouyer, "Evagrius is one of the most important names in the history of spirituality, one of those that not only marked a decisive turning-point, but called forth a real spiritual mutation."(36) Greatly influenced by the teachings of Origen, Evagrius Ponticus (+399) developed a theology of the spiritual life which affected many subsequent writers, and especially Cassian. However, Evagrius does not escape criticism on the grounds that he was too much of a philosopher. He was condemned, together with Origen, by the Council of Constantinople (553) and by three subsequent councils. In modern times Hans Urs von Balthasar has stated: "There is no doubt that the mysticism of Evagrius, carried to the strict conclusions of its premises, comes closer, by its essence, to Buddhism than to Christianity. "(37)

Evagrius attempted to synthesize the doctrine of the spiritual life in treatises that would be of particular benefit to monks. The Practicos (PG 40, 1221-1252) contains the ascetical teaching of Evagrius; the Gnosticos,(38)a continuation of the previous work, is a compilation of practical counsels and precautions; his masterpiece, Kephalaia gnostica, was published under the editorship of A. Guillaumont at Paris in 1958.(39) Of the other works attributed to Evagrius we mention only a treatise on the cenobitic life and another directed to nuns,(40) discussions of evil thoughts and the eight spirits of malice,(41) and a work on prayer.(42)

The positive contributions made by Evagrius can be summarized as follows: he defined the stages of growth in the spiritual life;(43) he tried to show the interconnection of the virtues, beginning with faith and terminating with charity; he expounded a theology of prayer that reaches its perfection in "mystical theology" or gnosis of the Trinity; he enumerated and commented on the eight capital sins; and he attempted to refine the stoical doctrine of apatheia by relating it to charity.

With pseudo-Dionysius it is "surprising to see apatheia, the importance of which from Clement to Evagrius was always being explained and affirmed, here disappearing, or almost so; while gnosis, if it has not disappeared, is at least considerably less emphasized."(44) Yet, the pseudo-Areopagite is truly in the mainstream of the Cappadocian school, although he also represents an advance in the theology of the spiritual life, particularly in his treatment of the three stages, his distinction between theology as a science and theology as mysticism, and his explanation of mystical contemplation. It would be difficult to overemphasize his importance in spiritual theology, especially as an influence on the medieval theologians. His impact was much greater in the West than in the East.

It is generally admitted that the works of the pseudo-Dionysius were composed toward the end of the fifth century or early in the sixth century. There is also common agreement on the authentic works that constitute the corpus dionysiacum: De divinis nominibus, Theologia mystica, De caelesti hierarchia, and De ecclesiastica hierarchia. As the title indicates, the first work is an explanation of the various names attributed to God, both in Sacred Scripture and by the philosophers. Theologia mystica treats of the divine darkness and the necessity of total detachment in order to be united with God and then, after explaining the difference between positive theology and negative theology, shows why the transcendental is not contained in any sensate form or intellectual concept. The last two works are treatises on the hierarchy of angels and on the sacraments respectively.(45)

It has been said that pseudo-Dionysius was the originator of the division of the "three ways" or "three stages" of the spiritual life. However, except for a passage in De caelesti hierarchia, where the catechumens, the ordinary faithful and the monks represent three stages of progress toward perfection, pseudo-Dionysius does not apply the concept of ways or stages to the individual Christian. Rather, he is speaking of the ways in which men or angels participate in the divine perfections; therefore it is in this context that one should understand the expressions "purification, illumination and perfection." Thus, in De caelesti hierarchia, various choirs of angels perform the functions of purification, illumination and perfection; in De ecclesiastica hierarchia, on the other hand, these same functions are performed by the liturgy, the clergy and the faithful. Liturgically, baptism is the sacrament of purification; the Eucharist is the sacrament of illumination; chrismation (confirmation) is the sacrament that perfects the graces of baptism. Applying the same terms to the clergy, the ministers or deacons perform the function of purifying, the priests illumine, and the bishops perfect the work by the ministry of the word and the liturgy.

At the beginning of De ecclesiastica hierarchia pseudo-Dionysius remarks that the goal of all purification, illumination and perfection is "constant love of God and divine things ..., the vision and knowledge of sacred truth, a divine participation in the simple perfection of him who is sovereignly simple, and the enjoyment of that contemplation which nourishes the soul and deifies all who attain it."(46)

In De divinis nominibus he speaks of a knowledge of God that is attained, not by study but by an impression of the divine; it is a kind of empathy and intuition resulting from a supernatural illumination from God and, on man's part, a love that becomes ecstatic.(47) But it is in the short treatise, De mystica theologia, that pseudo-Dionysius develops his doctrine on the two types of theology and the nature of mystical contemplation. At the very beginning he describes "mystical theology" and the means to attain it:

O Trinity superessential, superdivine, supergood, ... lead us to that supreme height of mystical words that transcends understanding and manifestation, there where the simple, absolute, unchangeable mysteries of theology are unveiled in the superluminous cloud of silence that initiates into hidden things, super-resplendent in the deepest depths of darkness in a manner beyond any manifestation, which, wholly intangible and invisible, fills to overflowing with superbeautiful splendors our blinded spirits.

Such is my prayer, and you, my friend Timothy, applying yourself with all your strength to mystical contemplations, abandon the senses and the intellectual energies and everything that is sensible or intelligible; everything that is not and that is, and raise yourself in unknowing toward union, so far as this is permitted, toward what surpasses all essence and gnosis; indeed, it is purely by a free and absolute ecstasy out of yourself that you will be carried toward the superessential ray of the divine darkness.(48)

Stated briefly, pseudo-Dionysius' doctrine on the knowledge of God (theology) starts from the assertion that no sensible or imaginative image can lead man to a knowledge of God; rather, these images are obstacles. God can be known in only two ways: by the intellect or by mystical contemplation. The former is a rational knowledge called demonstrative or apodictic theology; the latter is a mystical theology that is supernatural and intuitive. Moreover, demonstrative or reasoned theology is of two kinds: affirmative and negative. Theology by way of affirmation consists in attributing to God all possible being and all perfections; God is all and God is everything. Theology by negation is the attempt to express the fact that whatever be our concepts of God, they are more expressive of what God is not than what he is; they fall far too short of the God who is unknowable, transcendent and mysterious. Consequently, our knowledge of God by negation is often more accurate than our affirmative theology, and this is so because the negation of our images of God purifies our concept of God. Thus, all the goodness of created things is likewise found in God (affirmative theology), but the goodness of God is infinite and therefore it is not the same as the goodness in created things (negative theology).

In order to understand pseudo-Dionysius' doctrine on mystical theology, it is necessary to accept his use of the word "mystical" in a Christian sense. In spite of the fact that some scholars have seen purely Platonic doctrine in the mysticism of the pseudo-Dionysius, Bouyer maintains that the expression "mystikos" did not have a religious meaning for the Greek philosophers.

The only uses of the word that we find in the Hellenistic world in connection with religious things concern the ritual of the "mysteries." But in this case they mean quite simply that the ritual is and must remain hidden ....

What was hidden in the Hellenistic mysteries was the rites and nothing but the rites. These did not include any "mystical" doctrine, for the very good reason that they did not include any doctrine at all ....

However, the symbolic usage that literary men soon came to make of the images and formulas of the mysteries made ready for an intellectual and spiritual utilization of the term .... This vocabulary came to be used in the domain of philosophy: . . . to signify any knowledge difficult to penetrate, such as the most academic and arid subtleties of Stoic physics or psychology.

It is in connection with this very loose and very commonplace usage that . . . the first Christian use of the word mystikos came to be introduced. It was used to describe what Clement and Origen considered the most difficult theological problem in Christianity: Scriptural exegesis as they understood it, that is, the discovery of the allegorical sense of the Scriptures ....

Other doctrinal uses of the word "mystical" are encountered in the ancient Fathers to designate the teaching of the objects of faith in contrast to visible realities .... It was in a kindred sense that Clement had previously described the divine name as the "mystical tetragram," and also that Eusebius, St. Cyril of Alexandria and many others later on would call the Christian Trinity the "mystical Triad" or its teaching a science "in a superior way, ineffable and mystical."

From here we go on to a third sense in which mystical becomes merely a synonym for "spiritual" in contrast to "carnal" ....

All these texts in which "mystical" is used in the Fathers, in a biblical context, show us, then, that the word, in its Christian usage, is primarily connected with the divine reality which Christ communicates to us, which the Gospel reveals to us, which gives its whole meaning to the whole of Scripture. Hence we see how the word "mystical" came to be applied to any knowledge of the divine realities to which we have access through Christ, and then, by derivation, to these realities themselves. And, finally, the word is applied, in the same line of thought, to the spiritual reality of the "worship in spirit and in truth" as opposed to the emptiness of an external religion not vivified by the Lord's coming ....

The use of the term "mystical," then, came to pass from the Christian interpretation of the Scriptures to the content of the Christian sacraments. Here it designates at once the spiritual reality of the latter and the fact that his reality remains hidden ....

We might say, therefore, that, for the Fathers, the sacraments and, above all, the Eucharist, are "mystical" in that they envelop the reality of the "mystery" which the Gospel proclaims and unveils to the eyes of faith in the whole Bible.

The first uses of the term which began to orient it toward designating a particular spiritual experience are visibly rooted in these two primordial senses.(49)

For pseudo-Dionysius mystical theology applies both to the intuitive knowledge of the revealed truths of Scripture and the experience of divine realities, either in those revealed truths or in the Eucharistic liturgy. In De divinis nominibus he makes a distinction between the theology that results from one's own effort in thinking about divine truths and that which is the result of "some more divine inspiration, not only learning the things of God but experiencing them, and through this sympathy with them, if we may say this, having been consummated in initiation into mystical union and faith in them, which cannot be taught."(50)

The experience of divine realities, which is infused contemplation, involves three things: suspension of all sensible and intelligible images, entrance into darkness and obscurity, and the vision of God and intimate union with him.(51) The apparent contradiction between vision and darkness is explained as follows by pseudo-Dionysius:

The divine cloud is that inaccessible light in which it is said that God dwells. Being invisible by the excess of its splendor, and inaccessible by the hyperbole of the superessential expansion of its light, whoever has been judged worthy to see God attains to this by the very fact of not seeing or knowing, having arrived truly in him who is above all vision and gnosis, in knowing that he is above everything that is sensible or intelligible.(52)
With pseudo-Dionysius, Evagrius and Macarius Christian spirituality as expressed in monasticism reached its highest point of development in the East. Their spiritual teaching and practice are far removed from the asceticism of the anchorites and they contributed greatly to a shift of emphasis in monastic life from work and asceticism to the mystical elements of knowledge and prayer. Although this "interiorized" monasticisms (53) was completely orthodox, it also gave grounds for the heretical movement of Messalianism, which was an exaggerated doctrine on the role of prayer and mysticism in the monastic life. It led ultimately to a mysticism that was physical, sensual and passive, resulting in an antimystical reaction that was corrected by Diadochus.(54)

After Messalianism, another crisis arose in monasticism and it occasioned the emergence of St. Maximus (+662), whom Bouyer calls "the last great theologian of Greek patristics."(55)

From the time that he entered the monastic life in 613, St. Maximus spent most of his time in the defense of orthodox doctrine against the heretics, frequently moving from one monastery to another because of persecution. Ultimately he was arrested in Rome, together with Pope Martin 1, and sent into exile. In 662 he was again in Constantinople, where the heretics condemned him to be scourged and to have his tongue and his right hand cut off. He died in that same year as a result of his sufferings.

Aside from his dogmatic and polemical writings, St. Maximus composed the following works in ascetico-mystical theology: Liber asceticus, a dialogue between an abbot and a young monk concerning the obligations of monastic life; Capita de caritate, containing the doctrine on charity and the spiritual applications of the doctrine; Capita theologica et oeconomica and Alia capita, which are a continuation of the treatise on charity; and Mistagogia and his commentaries on the works of pseudo-Dionysius, based on the De ecclesiastica hierarchia of pseudo-Dionysius,for whom Maximus had the greatest reverence.

What is distinctive about the spiritual doctrine of St. Maximus is that he centers everything on Christ. Having defended orthodox Christology against the heretics, he was thoroughly imbued with love for the Savior. He saw Christ not only as the meritorious cause of our salvation but also the exemplary cause, for which reason the great law of the Christian life is the imitation of Christ. By imitating Christ, the soul can achieve victory over the enemies of the spiritual life, the greatest of which is self-love. This involves a detachment from created things and one's own selfish desires so that egoistic love can be replaced by the love of God and of neighbor.(56) Thereby the soul attains the state of apatheia or peace of soul which is also the fruit of prayer and grace.

St. Maximus classifies Christians into three groups: the beginners, who are led by fear; the advanced souls, who have the well-founded hope of a reward and are therefore somewhat mercenary; and the perfect, who are true children of God and motivated by filial love. The perfect enjoy a contemplative prayer that is activated by the gift of wisdom, which Maximus calls "the eyes of faith." It is also through wisdom that the soul receives a knowledge of God that is called theology. It is a fruit of prayer. But the greatest of all the spiritual gifts enjoyed by the perfect is divine charity. It is charity that deifies the soul, enables it to experience its adoptive filiation, and unites it to God in the bond of mystical marriage. And all this comes through Christ. In St. Maximus, therefore, the model and cause of Christian perfection is Jesus Christ, and the soul of Christian perfection is charity. With St. Maximus, says Bouyer, Christian spirituality "regains something of the first upsurge of the vigor of the Gospel."(57)

  1. Cf. L. Bouyer, The Spirituality of the New Testament and the Fathers, tr. M. P. Ryan, Desclée, New York, N.Y., 1960; P. Pourrat, Christian Spirituality, tr. W. H. Mitchell and S. P. Jacques, Newman Press, Westminster, Md., 1953, Vol. 1; AA.VV., Théologie de la vie monastique, Theologie 49, Paris, 1961.
  2. F. Fénelon, "Discours sur les avantages et les dévoirs de la vie réligieuse," in Oeuvres, ed. Versailles, Vol. 17, p. 396.
  3. Cf. St. Jerome, Vita S. Malchi monachi, PL 23, 53.
  4. P. Evdokimov, The Struggle with God, Paulist Press, Glen Rock, N.J., 1966, p. 94.
  5. Cf. I. Clement, 33, 1-2; St. Ignatius, Letter to Polycarp, 5, 2.
  6. Cf. Tertullian, De virginibus velandis; De cultu feminarum; St. Cyprian, De habitu virginum.
  7. Cf. J. M. Perrin, Virginity, tr. K. Gordon, Newman Press, Westminster, Md., 1956; P. T. Camelot, "Virginity," in New Catholic Encyclopedia, McGraw-Hill, New York, N.Y., 1967. Vol. 14, pp. 701-704.
  8. M. H. Vicaire, The Apostolic Life, tr. W. De Naple, Priory Press, Chicago, Ill., 1966, pp. 29-31.
  9. Cf. G. Morin, L'idéal monastique et la vie chrétienne des premiers jours, Paris, 1921.
  10. Cf. P. Evdokimov, op.cit., p. 113.
  11. Cf. L. Bouyer, op.cit., p. 144.
  12. Cf. J. Quasten, Patrology, Newman Press, Westminster, Md., 1950-1960, Vol. 3, pp. 424-482.
  13. For details on literary sources of monastic life, see B. Altaner, Patrology, Herder and Herder, New York, N.Y., 1960; J. Quasten, op.cit., Vol. I.
  14. Cf. L. Bouyer, op. cit., p. 323.
  15. Cf. L. Bouyer, op. cit., p. 330.
  16. Cf. J. Gribomont, Histoire du texte des "Ascétiques" de Saint Basile, Louvain 1953, P. 187; P. Pourrat, op.cit., Vol. I.
  17. Regulae brevius tractatae, PG 31, 441.
  18. Cf. L. Bouyer, op.cit., pp. 336-337, passim.
  19. Ibid., p. 351.
  20. Cf. J. Quasten, op.cit., Vol. 2, pp. 221 ff
  21. Oratio 7, PG 35, 785.
  22. Oratio 30, PG 36, 112.
  23. Oratio 2, 7, PG 35.
  24. See also J. Quasten, op. cit., Vo1. 2, pp. 267; 305-310.
  25. Cf. J. Tixeront, History of Dogma, B. Herder, St. Louis, Mo., 1930, Vol. 2, p. 8. For a rebuttal of this opinion, see J. Daniélou, Platonisme et théologie mystique: Essai sur la doctrine spirituelle de saint Grégoire de Nysse, 2 ed., Paris, 1954.
  26. Cf. L. Bouyer, op.cit., pp. 351-368.
  27. J. Quasten, op.cit., pp. 254-296.
  28. Ibid., loc. cit.
  29. L. Bouyer, op. cit., pp. 352-353.
  30. The complete text of De instituto christiano can be found in W. Jaeger, Opera ascetica, Vol. 8, Leiden, 1952.
  31. Quoted by L. Bouyer, op. cit., pp. 360-361.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Cf. In Canticum Canticorum, PG 44, 889.
  34. Cf. R. F. Harvanek, "St. Gregory of Nyssa," in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 6, p. 795.
  35. Cf. L. Bouyer, op.cit., p. 369. Macarius discussed the apparent conflict between work and prayer and he stressed the importance of community life. He also used the expression "simul justus et peccator" to designate that even the soul in grace must still be purified before attaining the plenitude of grace. Cf. L. Bouyer, op.cit., pp. 379-380.
  36. Cf. L. Bouyer, op.cit., P. 381.
  37. H. U. von Balthasar, "Metaphysik and Mystik des Evagrius Ponticus," in Zeitschrift für Aszese and Mystik, Vol. 14, pp. 31-34.
  38. The only extant versions of this work are the Syriac edition by W. Frankenberg, Evagrius Ponticus, Berlin, 1912, pp. 546-553, and the Armenian edition by H. B. V. Sarghissian, Vie et oeuvres du saint Père Evagre, Venice, 1907, pp. 12-22.
  39. Cf. A. Guillaumont, Les six centuries des "Kephalaia gnostica" d'Evagre le Pontique, PO, Vol. 28, Paris, 1958.
  40. Cf. H. Gressmann, Nonnenspiegel and Mönchsspiegel, Leipzig, 1913, pp. 146-151; 153-165.
  41. Cf. PG 79, 1145-1164; 1200-1233.
  42. Cf. PG 79, 1165-1200.
  43. Evagrius divided Christians into ascetics and mystics. The mystics are further divided into those who enjoy natural contemplation (physiké) and those who attain to the contemplation of God (theologiké). Finally, natural contemplation may have as its object either corporeal natures or spiritual natures.
  44. Cf. L. Bouyer, op. cit., pp. 420-421.
  45. Cf. the excellent article, "Denys l'Areopagite (Le Pseudo-) by R. Roques in Dictionnaire de Spiritualité, Vol. 3, Col. 244-286.
  46. De ecclesiastica hierarchia, PG 3, 371.
  47. De divinis nominibus, I, 5. PG 3.
  48. De mystica theologia, PG 3, 997-1000.
  49. L. Bouyer, op. cit., pp. 406-410, passim.
  50. De divinis nominibus, PG 3, 648; 681-684.
  51. Cf. De mystica theologia, PG 3, 997-1000.
  52. Epistola, 9, PG 3, 1073.
  53. Cf. P. Evdokimov, op. cit., pp. 105; 113-116.
  54. Cf. L. Bouyer, op. cit., pp. 427-433.
  55. Cf. L. Bouyer, op. cit., pp. 433-436; P. Sherwood, St. Maximus the Confessor, Newman Press, Westminster, Md., 1955.
  56. Cf. P. Sherwood, op. cit., pp. 70-99.
  57. Cf. L. Bouyer, op. cit., p. 436.