Program Notes - January 30, 2005
Prayer to the Saints - Part 2: Why Intercession?
PRAYER TO THE SAINTS PART II
"The Christian God is not just a unit but a union, not just unity but Community. There is in God something analogous to "society". He is not a single person, loving himself alone, not a self-contained monad or "the One". He is triunity: three equal persons, each one dwelling in the other two by virtue of an unceasing movement of mutual love…
The final end of the spiritual Way is that we humans should also become part of this Trinitarian coinherence or perichoresis, being wholly taken up intothe circle of love that exists within God. So Christ prayed to his Father on the night before his Crucifixion, "May they all be one: as Thou Father, art in me, and I in Thee, so may they also be one in us" (John 17:21).
Why believe that God is three? Is it not easier to believe simply in the Divine Unity, as the Jews and Mohammedans do? Certainly it is easier. The doctrine of the Trinity stands before us as a challenge, a "crux" in the literal sense: it is, in Vladimir Lossky's words, "across for human ways of thought", and it requires from us a radical act of metanoia — not merely a gesture of formal assent, but a true change of mind and heart.
…Isolated, self-dependent, none of us is an authentic person but merely an individual, a bare unit as recorded in the census. Egocentricity is the death of true personhood. Each becomes a real person only through entering into relations with other persons, through living for them and in them. There can be no man, so it has rightly been said, until there are two men in communication. The same is true, secondly, of love. Love cannot exist in isolation, but presupposes the other. Self-love is the negation of love. As Charles Williams shows to such devastating effect in his novel Descent Into Hell, self-love is hell ; for carried to its ultimate conclusion, self-love signifies the end of all joy and all meaning. Hell is not other people, hell is myself, cut off from others in self-centeredness.
Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, pg. 27, 28.