Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Ordinands, be warned!

A note to fellow Anglican ordinands of more old-fashioned bent: if you think our seminaries are wary of traditionalists, have a look at how they're treated over the Tiber.

New Liturgical Movement: Fr. Christopher Smith on Seminarians and the Usus Antiquior

Time to change the dust-jacket on those BCPs, English Missals and Sarum Primers, friends. Perhaps we could print our own. Something like 'Worshipping Niceness' should do.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Dionysius the Areopagite: Who he?

ἔστι τῆς θεολογίας ἡ θεουργία συγκεφαλαίωσις

'Theurgy is the consummation of theology' (Ps.-Dionysius, Ecclesiastical Hierarchy 3.5, 432B)

In a General Audience of 14 May 2008, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an address on what he called the 'rather mysterious figure' who wrote as Dionysius the Areopagite. To this Dionysius, the Pope attributes a 'new relevance' as 'a great mediator in the modern dialogue between Christianity and the mystical theologies of Asia'. Dionysius describes a negative path of speaking about God - that is, 'theology' in its fundamental sense. In this view, God is so far beyond the power of mortal speech and thought that one is limited to describing Him properly not by what He is, but only by what He is not. The Pope supposes a parallel here with what he reads as the extreme apophaticism of Asian thought. An apophatic and mysterious timbre can be seen even in the author of the Dionysian corpus' refusal to give the reader his true name. He wrote some five centuries after his adopted namesake, whose conversion by S. Paul is recounted in Acts 17. This we surmise from his heavy reliance on the philosophy of Proclus, who died in AD 485. 

Benedict cites two well known hypotheses for Dionysius' adoption of the pseudonym. The first, which Benedict himself rejects, is that the author wished to give his work a 'quasi apostolic authority' (Benedict 2009:80). Going further along this line, Rosemary Arthur suggests that 'Dionysius' is in fact a cabal of monophysites hiding behind the pseudonym to protect themselves from persecution by pro-Chalcedonian authorities. To her, this pseudonymity betrays cowardice and a lack of integrity.