Notes From a Retreat-I

Luminous Darkness

Luminous Darkness

Hierarchy is about sharing, manifesting the communion of the saints.

Neoplatonist intro-Neoplatonism is more Platonic than some modification thereof. It is a resurgence of Platonism, with Plotinus as a key founder. Dionysius was very influenced by Proclus.

There is the concept of Agnosia-the Unknown God, which hearkens to Acts, and this is the historical legend/myth that gave birth to Dionysius the Areopagite. He was to have been a person who heard St. Paul speaking on the Areopagus Hill. His deep knowledge of the Unknown God influences his writings.

With that being said, Proclus was not a first century Neo-Platonist. This has led scholars to argue that Dionysius is not the person from the Acts of the Apostles. But we should not despair. His philosophy is still that of one who formerly worshipped the Agnosia.

He has disappeared as an individual behind the pseudonym.

John of Scythopolis was an Eastern person who compiled and commented on the works of Dionysius, a chief propagandist of his works. In the West, Carolignians supported the promulgation of his writings. Both Byzantines and Carolignians liked Dionysius’ writings, especially because of the notion of Hierarchy. In a sense, Dionysius’ writings on hierarchy have been abused to justify empire growth, but nevertheless, this work has driven more people to read Dionysius’ work.

Through this influence, Meister Eckhart and others wrote as Rhineland Mystics. Dionysius’ influence permeates the world in ways that we do not know.

Break

We then resumed with a reading from Section I of the Mystical Theology:

TRIAD supernal, both super-God and super-good, Guardian of the Theosophy of Christian men, direct us aright to the super-unknown and super-brilliant and highest summit of the mystic Oracles, where the simple and absolute a!nd changeless mysteries of theology lie hidden within the super-luminous gloom of the silence, revealing hidden things, which in its deepest darkness shines above the most super-brilliant, and in the altogether impalpable and invisible, fills to overflowing the eyeless minds with glories of surpassing beauty. This then be my prayer; but thou, O dear Timothy, by thy persistent commerce with the mystic visions, leave behind both sensible perceptions and intellectual efforts, and all objects of sense and intelligence, and all things not being and being, and be raised aloft unknowingly to the union, as far’ as attainable, with Him Who is above every essence and knowledge. For by the resistless and absolute ecstasy in all purity, from thyself and all, thou wilt be carried on high, to the superessential ray of the Divine darkness, when thou hast cast away all, and become free from all.

This quote is one of the most influential quotes in all of Christian mysticism. However, it is unfortunate that we even call this an influential quote in Christian mysticism because there is no such thing as Christian mysticism.

There is no such thing as Christian mysticism because to be a Christian is to be a mystic. It is a tautology to speak of Christian mysticism. Is Dionysius an ordinary, every day Christian? With his quote, we would think this to not be the case. The words are so exalted and powerful than many of us would use. But it is the case that we are all mystics as Christians.

What is a mystic?
To be a mystic is not unusual, a matter of having visions and stigmata or other such things. These are, of course, special ways that one can be a mystic. It is not necessarily a better way to be a mystic, but what we must realize is that being a mystic is a universal vocation. The more well-known mystics are compasses-their purpose is to guide us, to spur us on.

And what is mystery? Mystery is not esoteric, as in beyond the ordinary person’s grasp. It is not based on difficult techniques, et cetera.

The Neo-Platonists such as Plotinus were not Gnostics, in fact Plotinus wrote against the Gnostics. Akin to Parmenides, where noesis in contrast to common appearance was the goal. The DOXA, from where we get the word docetism, is the surface of something.

But to close one’s eyes, this is to be a mystic. For Muein means to Close the eyes in Greek. Just as DOXA means surface, in Hebrew Shekinah means shimmering, the surface. In mystery, we go further to the noesis.

This is mystery. It is our universal vocation. As the notes on the retreat continue, we will consider how it is that we enter the mystery. The answers, as you will see, are less mysterious than you would tend to think.

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