Efchelaion (Service of Holy Oil): The Energized Entreaty

The brother of the Lord, Iakovos, assures us that “the entreaty of a righteous man hath much strength when it is energized [Jas. 5:16]. The rendering of the KJV, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” is unwarranted. So when the Apostle Iakovos speaks thus, we are to understand it as follows. Saint Gregory Palamas says that “only he who learns from experience knows the energies of the Spirit.” And, “Indeed, it is only through His energies that one knows that God exists; hence, he who rejects the divine energies must necessarily be ignorant of the existence of God.” Restored by the regenerative power of divine grace, man is not only a product of God’s creative energy but shares in His uncreated life. God and man then possess in common uncreated energy and life, the One being the Source, and the other the vessel of grace. Saint Maximos the Confessor confirms that “the divine energy dwells within man and God energizes through him.”

Saint Gregory Palamas further explains that “God, in His completeness, divinizes those who are worthy by uniting Himself with them, not through the hypostasis – that belonged to Christ alone – not through the essence, but through the uncreated energies.” And, “Every man worthy of it participates differently in the great gift of the Spirit. This corresponds to the degree of his own purity, mingling with the harmony of the Beauty. But even he who has but little and that little obscure compared to the endowments of others, also unites himself to the whole of the very divine light … That unique light belongs indeed to the unique Christ.

Saint Irenaeos informs us that “the will and the energy of God is the effective and providential cause of every time and place and age, and of every nature.” Saint Basil, an initiate of divine Mysteries, explains that “the energies are various, and the essence simple, but we say that we know our God from His energies, but do not undertake to approach near to His essence. His energies come down to us, but His essence remains beyond our reach.” So whatever name one gives the energies – grace, divine life, light, illumination – the energies belong to the existence of God Himself. They represent His existence for us. It is, therefore, not only justified but also necessary to apply thereto the attributes proper to the divine Being. They are God and divinity, as the Council of 1351 formulated it.

Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church, Triodion. Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Colorado.

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