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Revista Studii Teologice

REVISTA FACULTĂŢILOR DE TEOLOGIE DIN PATRIARHIA ROMÂNĂ



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Teologia ca exerciţiu ascetic şi experienţă mistică. Aprofundări ale Părintelui Dumitru Stăniloae

Theology as ascetic exercise and mystical experience. Dwelling on the writings of Father Dumitru Stăniloae

Autor(i): Pr. Ioan C. TEŞU


The present paper presents the teachings of the most prominent Romanian Orthodox theologian – deemed to be the „patriarch of Romanian academic theology”, the „theologian of love” and the „saint of the Philokalia” – on the mystery of Theolo-gy. According to Fr. Stăniloae, knowledge of God, integral to theology, is ontologically bound to human soul, which carries deep within the „nostalgia for original Paradise” now lost, striving to regain it throughout one’s entire lifetime. Knowledge of God is an essential calling of the soul, which becoming aware of its relation and familiarity with God whose image it bears, like a divine imprint, endeavours to achieve likeness to Him. Thirst for God and for advancement towards Him is ingrained and rooted in man’s soul.
The Romanian theologian saw theology not as a purely discoursive discipline or mere discussions about God, however lofty and inspirational these might be, but rather as a spiritual endeavour towards purification from passions and sins, in order to apprehend God, receive Him and collaborate with the One wondrously dwelling in the depths of human life and soul. Greatly influenced by the spiritualized life and thought of the Philokalic authors, Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae adopted Holy Fathers’ theo-logizing method peculiar to the Orthodox East – exploring the infinite divine myste-ry, not by rational means and purely human ways, but by ascetical means, by humble invoking God’s assistance, to gain such awareness that brings about not necessarily better knowledge but rather transforms one’s thought and life, and save one’s soul.
As Father Stăniloae views positive, or rational, knowledge of God as an absolu-tely fundamental and necessary step in the advancement of human mind towards the genuine spiritual knowledge, he emphasizes its great ascetical, purifying quality and points out that inasmuch as a Christian overcomes sins and passions, which are forms of the moral wretchedness, he gains insight into the infinite divine universe of mystery. The contemplative soul thus experiences two great paradoxes of spiritual life: God lovingly lowers Himself towards man, and reveals Himself not only to the human mind, but to the entire human existence so that man may be saved; whereas man is elevated, through conscience, towards the spiritual realm. On the one hand, the Christian soul feels the boundless love of a God who reveals Himself out of His infinite love for the welfare of His creatures; on the other hand, man gains access to these mysteries and his capacity for understanding is extended. God increasingly reveals ever more and deeper mysteries, while man’s purified, enlightened mind becomes increasingly able to understand God’s loving „lowering”. The greatest degree of revelation from the part of God and the greatest degree of comprehension and insight from the part of man result in the union of the two realities, without any confusion or alteration.
According to Fr. Stăniloae, knowledge of God achieved in order to become united with Him, with all the human effort is presupposes, is ultimately a gift of God, a charisma of the Holy Spirit, granted to man as a reward for his purifying struggle to free himself from sins and passions and to achieve and perfect Christian virtues by which man gains the likeness to the Heavenly Father. One particularity of the Roma-nian theologian’s thought is his reprise of Maximus the Confessor’s teachings on the knowledge of God through the logoi of creation and especially through the concrete events of life, which entail such knowledge that, painful though it may be, awakens responsibility and prompts man to pray, bringing him closer to his Heavenly Father.
Another peculiar trait of Fr. Stănilaoe’s theology is his dwelling on the degrees or stages of apophatism, or apophatic knowledge, by usig the terms „sight”, „union”, „theosis”, to designate the contemplation of the uncreated divine light that leads to full union with God in love, to theosis. This is true theology that leads to seeing and contemplating God’s works in the world and within the human soul, and to union with Him in love and perfection. This living, experiential theology, felt and lived, uniting man with God and perfecting him, becomes theophilia and anthropophilia, love for God and love for one’s neighbour. The way or means by which man’s soul ascends step by step, progresses from epektasis to epektasis, is not a rational one, but a mystical one par excellence, it is the path or the art of prayer.
True theology, as we learn from the „saint of writings”, cannot be developed by sitting at the desk but in a prayerful state, it lies not in theoretical research but in man’s state of openness and conversation with God, in pure prayer. Therefore to Fr. Stăniloae genuine theology, through the experience of pure prayer, is tantamount to achieving Christian sainthood and so the ideal theologian is the saint, who knows God by spiritual intuition and divine revelation.

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Studiu
Pagini: 99-114