St. Denys,
med. illum. MS

DIONYSIUS often uses the word “hierarchy” to describe what ought to be visualized as a series of pools into which a waterfall successively cascades.  Each pool (“rank” or “order”) receives purifying, illuminating, and divinizing divine grace, by which it is consecrated, and which it then transmits to the next rank or pool.  “Hierarchy” is thus a description of divine mediation, a way of describing a dynamic interrelationship in which all beings both receive divinizing power from God and then serve as mediators of this grace to others.




1. Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones





2. Dominions, Virtues, Powers





3. Principalities, Archangels, Angels







Tr. modifed from those of:  C. Lubheid, (Paulist, CWS 1987) and anon. (Fintry, 1923). Greek ed. G. Heil, de Gruyter, 1991 Corp. Dionys. II, pp. 84-86; 142-150.

On the Nine Orders of Angels


6. How many, and of what sort, are the Orders of the supercelestial Beings, and how the Hierarchies are perfected amongs themselves, I say that only the deifying Author of their consecration distinctly knows; but they know their own proper powers and illuminations, and place in this sacred, supercelestial order. 1  ῞οσοι μέν εἰσι καὶ οἷοι τῶν ὑπερουρανίων οὐσιῶν οἱ διάκοσμοι καὶ ὅπως αἱ κατ΄ αὐτοὺς ἱεραρχίαι τελοῦνται͵ μόνην ἀκριβῶς εἰδέναι φημὶ τὴν θεωτικὴν αὐτῶν τελεταρχίαν͵ προσέτι καὶ αὐτοὺς ἐγνωκέναι τὰς οἰκείας δυνάμεις τε καὶ ἐλλάμψεις καὶ τὴν ἑαυτῶν ἱερὰν καὶ ὑπερκόσμιον εὐταξίαν.
For it is impossible that we should know the mysteries of the supercelestial Minds and their most holy perfections, except, some one might say, so far as the Godhead has revealed to us, through them, as knowing perfectly their own condition.  Ἀδύνατον γὰρ ἡμᾶς εἰδέναι τὰ τῶν ὑπερουρανίων νοῶν μυστή ρια καὶ τὰς ἁγιωτάτας αὐτῶν τελειώσεις͵ εἰ μή που φαίη τις ὅσα δι΄ αὐτῶν ἡμᾶς ὡς τὰ οἰκεῖα καλῶς εἰδότων ἡ θεαρχία μεμυσταγώγηκεν.
 We, then, will expound nothing as from ourselves, but whatever angelic visions have been gazed upon by the holy Prophets of God, we, as initiated in these, will set forth as best we can.  Οὐκοῦν ἡμεῖς μὲν οὐδὲν αὐτοκινήτως ἐροῦμεν· ὅσα δὲ τῶν ἀγγελικῶν θεαμάτων ὑπὸ τῶν ἱερῶν θεολόγων ἐθεωρήθη͵ ταῦτα μυηθέντες ἡμεῖς ὡς οἷοί τέ ἐσμεν ἐκθησόμεθα. 
The Divine Word (theologia) has designated all Heavenly Beings as nine, by appellations, which show their functions 2  Πάσας ἡ θεολογία τὰς οὐρανίας οὐσίας ἐννέα κέκληκεν ἐκφαντορικαῖς ἐπωνυμίαις·
These our Divine Initiator divides into three threefold Orders. ταύτας ὁ θεῖος ἡμῶν ἱεροτελεστὴς εἰς τρεῖς ἀφορίζει τριαδικὰς διακοσμήσεις.
He also says that that which is always around God is first and is declared by tradition to be united closely and without intermediary to Him before all the rest. Καὶ πρώτην μὲν εἶναί φησι τὴν περὶ θεὸν οὖσαν ἀεὶ καὶ προσεχῶς αὐτῷ καὶ πρὸ τῶν ἄλλων ἀμέσως ἡνῶσθαι παραδε δομένην.

These then are the most holy

[3] Thrones” and the and many-eyed and many-winged ranks of

[2]Cherubim”; and


as they are called in Hebrew.

Τούς τε γὰρ ἁγιωτάτους

θρόνους καὶ τὰ πολυόμματα καὶ πολύπτερα τάγματα

Χερουβὶμ Ἑβραίων φωνῇ καὶ



He says they are established in an unsurpassable intimacy around God without intermediary, according to the received revelation of sacred scriptures. κατὰ τὴν πάντων ὑπερκειμένην ἐγγύτητα περὶ θεὸν ἀμέσως ἱδρῦσθαί φησι παραδιδόναι τὴν τῶν ἱερῶν λογίων ἐκφαντορίαν.
This threefold order, then, our illustrious Guide spoke of as one, and of equal rank, and really first Hierarchy, than which there is not another more Godlike or immediately nearer to the primordial illuminations of the Godhead. Τὸν τριαδικὸν οὖν τοῦτον διάκοσμον ὡς ἕνα καὶ ὁμοταγῆ καὶ ὄντως  πρώτην ἱεραρχίαν ὁ κλεινὸς ἡμῶν ἔφη καθηγεμών͵ ἧς οὐκ ἔστιν ἑτέρα θεοειδεστέρα καὶ ταῖς πρωτουργοῖς τῆς θεαρχίας ἐλλάμψεσιν ἀμέσως προσεχεστέρα͵

Second he says is that which of the

[6] Dominions/Lordships, and

[5] Princedoms, and

[4] Powers/Virtues

is constituted;

δευτέραν 27 δ΄ εἶναί φησιν τὴν ὑπὸ τῶν

ἐξουσιῶν καὶ

κυριοτήτων καὶ



And third is the last of the Heavenly Hierarchies which of the

[9] Angels and

[8] Archangels and

[7] Principalities

is composed.

  καὶ τρίτην ἐπ΄ ἐσχάτων τῶν οὐρανίων ἱεραρχιῶν τὴν τῶν

ἀγγέλων τε καὶ

ἀρχαγγέλων καὶ




The Symbols of Eagles and Horses


15.8 [...] The [form of the] eagle [signifies] royalty, soaring above, the speeding wing, agility, readiness, speed, and cunning to locate power-bestowing food, the contemplation that is freely, directly and unswervingly turned in strong intensity toward those generously abundant rays of the divine sun.

     τὴν δὲ τοῦ ἀετοῦ τὸ βασιλικὸν καὶ ὑψίφορον καὶ ταχυπετὲς καὶ τὸ πρὸς τὴν δυναμοποιὸν τροφὴν ὀξὺ καὶ νῆφον καὶ ἐντρεχὲς καὶ εὐμήχανον καὶ τὸ πρὸς τὴν ἄφθονον καὶ πολύφωτον ἀκτῖνα τῆς θεαρχικῆς ἡλιοβολίας ἐν ταῖς τῶν ὀπτικῶν δυνάμεων εὐρώστοις ἀνατάσεσιν ἀνεμποδίστως κατ' εὐθὺ καὶ ἀκλινῶς θεωρητικόν,


St. John's Seminary chapel, Photo by Chris Kintanar

    The [form of ] Horses (Zech 1:8; 6:2f, Rev 6:3-11) [signify] obedience and docility.  Their whiteness is the gleam of their kinship with the divine light; their blue color [signifies] hiddenness, the red is the power and sweep of fire. 

     tτὴν δὲ τῶν ἵππων τὸ εὐπειθὲς καὶ εὐήνιον, καὶ λευκῶν μὲν ὄντων τὸ λαμπρὸν καὶ ὡς μάλιστα τοῦ θείου φωτὸς συγγενές, κυανῶν δὲ ὄντων τὸ κρύφιον, ἐρυθρῶν δὲ τὸ πυρῶδες καὶ δραστήριον,


CHAPTERS TWO and THREE. (Book 2/3)  theoria, 7-8


Tr. based in part on those of  C. Lubheid, (Paulist, CWS 1987) and T. L. Campbell (Univ. Pr. of America, 1981).  Greek ed. G. Heil & A. Ritter, de Gruyter, 1991 Corp. Dionys. II, p.77-93; 105-110 

 (Book 2/3)  theoria, 7-8

On Baptism and Anointing with Chrism


7. [...] THIS symbolic teaching therefore sacredly leads [mystagogei] the one  baptized into the mystery that by his triple immersion in the water he imitates, (insofar as imitating God is humanly possible) the sacred death of Jesus, the giver of life, who spent three days and nights in the tomb; in whom, according to the mysterious and hidden tradition of the Scriptures, the ruler of this world found nothing.

Τὸν οὖν ἱερῶς βαπτιζόμενον ἡ συμβολικὴ διδασκαλία μυσταγωγεῖ ταῖς ἐν τῷ ὕδατι τρισὶ καταδύσεσι τὸν θεαρχικὸν τῆς τριημερονύκτου ταφῆς Ἰησοῦ τοῦ ζωοδότου μιμεῖσθαι θάνατον ὡς ἐφικτὸν ἀνδράσι τὸ θεομίμητον, ἐν ᾧ κατὰ τὴν τοῦ λογίου μυστηριώδη καὶ κρυφίαν παράδοσιν οὐδὲν εὕρηκεν ὁ τοῦ κόσμου ἄρχων.

    8. Next they clothe the initiate in garments white as light. His courage and likeness to God, his constant inclination to the One, make him impervious to all contrary things. The disordered becomes ordered within him. The formless takes on form. He shines with a light full of life. <8> Ἑξῆς δὲ φωτοειδεῖς ἐσθῆτας ἐπιβάλλουσι τῷ τελουμένῳ. Τῇ γὰρ ἀνδρικῇ καὶ θεοειδεῖ τῶν ἐναντίων ἀπαθείᾳ καὶ τῇ πρὸς τὸ ἓν ἐν συντονίᾳ συννεύσει τὸ ἄκοσμον κοσμεῖται καὶ τὸ ἀνείδεον εἰδοποιεῖται τῇ φωτοειδεῖ καθόλου ζωῇ λαμπρυνόμενον.

Transfiguration, St. Katherine's, Sinai

Baptism, Daphne

     The perfecting annointing with ointment gives a sweet odor to the one who has been perfected [=initiated], for the perfect sacred birth joins the initiates together with the supremely divine Spirit. [...] When all is done, the hierarch [bishop] calls the one who has been initiated to the most holy Eucharist and imparts to him communion in the mysteries that will perfect him.

Ἡ δὲ τοῦ μύρου τελειωτικὴ χρῖσις εὐώδη ποιεῖ τὸν τετελεσμένον. Ἡ γὰρ ἱερὰ τῆς θεογενεσίας τελείωσις ἑνοῖ τὰ τελεσθέντα τῷ θεαρχικῷ πνεύματι. [...] Ἐν τέλει δὲ πάντων ὁ ἱεράρχης ἐπὶ τὴν ἱερωτάτην εὐχαριστίαν καλεῖ τὸν τετελεσμένον καὶ τῆς τῶν τελεστικῶν μυστηρίων αὐτῷ μεταδίδωσι κοινωνίας.

The rite of the synaxis [=Eucharist].


     1. [...] AS my celebrated teacher has declared, this is indeed the sacrament of sacraments [or perfection of perfections] [...]

79 {1<ΙΙΙ.>}   Ἀλλ' εὖγε ὅτι ταύτης ἐμνήσθημεν, ἣν οὐ θεμιτὸν ἐμοὶ παραδραμόντι [...] τελετῶν τελετὴ [...]  

     And first of all, let us reverently behold what is above all characteristic of this, though also of the other hierarchic sacraments, namely, that which is especially referred to as Communion and gathering [synaxis].  Καὶ πρῶτόν γε τοῦτο ἱερῶς ἐποπτεύσωμεν, ὅτου δὴ ἕνεκα τὸ κοινὸν καὶ ταῖς ἄλλαις ἱεραρχικαῖς τελεταῖς ἐκκρίτως αὐτῇ παρὰ τὰς λοιπὰς ἀνατέθειται καὶ ἑνιαίως ἀνηγόρευται κοινωνία τε καὶ σύναξις
Every sacredly initiating operation: ἑκάστης ἱεροτελεστικῆς πραγματείας

[1] gathers our fragmented [divided] lives into a one-like divinization

καὶ τὰς μεριστὰς ἡμῶν ζωὰς εἰς ἑνοειδῆ θέωσιν συναγούσης

[2] [and] forges a divine unity out of the differences [divisions] within us; 

καὶ τῇ τῶν διαιρετῶν θεοειδεῖ συμπτύξεϊ

[3] bestowing upon us [the gifts of] communion and union with the One.

τὴν πρὸς τὸ ἓν κοινωνίαν καὶ ἕνωσιν δωρουμένης.

But I submit that the perfection of the other hierarchical symbols is only achieved by way of the divine and perfecting gifts of Communion. Φαμὲν δέ, ὅτι ταῖς τῶν ἄλλων ἱεραρχικῶν συμβόλων μεθέξεσιν ἡ τελείωσις ἐκ τῶν ταύτης θεαρχικῶν καὶ τελειωτικῶν ἔνεστι δωρεῶν.
For scarcely any of the hierarchic sacraments can be performed without the divine Eucharist as the high point of each rite Οὐ γὰρ ἔνεστιν σχεδόν τινα τελεσθῆναι τελετὴν ἱεραρχικὴν μὴ τῆς θειοτάτης εὐχαριστίας ἐν κεφαλαίῳ τῶν καθ' ἕκαστα τελουμένων

[1] divinely bringing about a spiritual gathering to the One for him who receives the sacrament, 

τὴν ἐπὶ τὸ ἓν τοῦ τελεσθέντος ἱερουργούσης συναγωγὴν

[2] granting him as a gift from God its mysterious perfecting capacities,

καὶ τῇ θεοπαραδότῳ δωρεᾷ τῶν τελειωτικῶν μυστηρίων

[3] perfecting in fact his communion with God. 

καὶ τῇ θεοπαραδότῳ δωρεᾷ τῶν τελειωτικῶν μυστηρίων


[The Unity of God expands out of love into the diversity of liturgical symbols,
thus drawing into unity by means of diversity

3. [...] FOR although the blessed divinity, transcending all being, proceeds beneficently outward to commune with those who partake of Him, He never actually departs from his essential stability and firmness. Ἥ τε γὰρ ὑπὲρ πάντα θεαρχικὴ μακαριότης, εἰ καὶ ἀγαθότητι θείᾳ πρόεισιν εἰς τὴν τῶν μετεχόντων αὐτῆς ἱερῶν κοινωνίαν, ἀλλ' οὐκ ἔξω τῆς κατ' οὐσίαν ἀκινήτου στάσεως καὶ ἱδρύσεως γίνεται,
[Thus] while illuminating all who conform as closely as possible to God, the Deity nevertheless maintains utterly and unshakably His inherent identity.  πᾶσι δὲ τοῖς θεοειδέσιν ἀναλόγως ἐλλάμπει περὶ ἑαυτὴν ὄντως οὖσα καὶ τῆς οἰκείας ὅλως οὐ παρακινουμένη ταὐτότητος.
    IN the same way the sacred sacrament of the synaxis retains its unique, simple, and undivided [nature]; while at the same time, out of love for humanity it diversifies [itself] in a sacred multiplicity of symbols.     Ὡσαύτως ἡ θεία τῆς συνάξεως τελετή, κἂν ἑνιαίαν καὶ ἁπλῆν ἔχουσα καὶ συνεπτυγμένην ἀρχὴν εἰς τὴν ἱερὰν ποικιλίαν τῶν συμβόλων φιλανθρώπως πληθύνηταϊ
It widens itself so as to contain the whole of hierarchical imagery [iconography]. καὶ μέχρι πάσης χωρῇ τῆς ἱεραρχικῆς εἰκονογραφίας,  

 Then it draws all these varied symbols together into union, returns to its own inherent oneness, and confers union on all those divinely lifted up to it.

ἀλλ' ἑνοειδῶς ἐκ τούτων αὖθις εἰς τὴν οἰκείαν μονάδα συνάγεται καὶ ἑνοποιεῖ τοὺς ἐπ' αὐτὴν ἱερῶς ἀναγομένους.


The Deifying Power of Psalmody and Biblical Readings

  4. THE sacred chanting of psalms accompanies almost all hierarchic mysteries; and it should certainly accompany the most hierarchic of them all.  <4> Ἡ δὲ τῶν ψαλμῶν ἱερολογία συνουσιωμένη πᾶσι σχεδὸν τοῖς ἱεραρχικοῖς μυστηρίοις οὐκ ἤμελλεν ἀπηρτῆσθαι τοῦ πάντων ἱεραρχικωτάτου.
EACH PAGE [tablet] of sacred scripture has a lesson, teaching: Πᾶσα μὲν γὰρ ἱερὰ καὶ ἁγιόγραφος δέλτος

[1] of the fact that God himself creates, lays down, and arranges all beings, [Genesis]

ἢ τὴν ἐκ θεοῦ τῶν ὄντων γενητὴν ὕπαρξίν τε καὶ διακόσμησιν

[2] of the legal hierarchy and administration; [Leviticus, Deuteronomy

ἢ τὴν νομικὴν ἱεραρχίαν καὶ πολιτείαν

[3] of the distributions, inheritances, and divisions of God's people; [Numbers]

ἢ τῶν τοῦ θείου λαοῦ κληροδοσιῶν διανεμήσεις καὶ κατασχέσεις̈

[4] of holy judges; [Judges]

ἢ κριτῶν ἱερῶν̈

[5] of wise kings; [Kings]

ἢ βασιλέων σοφῶν

[6] of godly priests; [Samuel]

ἢ ἱερέων ἐνθέων σύνεσιν

[7] of the philosophy of ancient men who were unshakeable despite various and numerous misfortunes;  [Ecclesiastes]

ἢ παλαιῶν ἀνδρῶν ἐν ποικιλίᾳ καὶ πλήθει τῶν ἀνιώντων ἀκατάσειστον ἐν καρτερίᾳ φιλοσοφίαν

[8] of wise practices for living; [Proverbs]

ἢ τῶν πρακτέων σοφὰς ὑποθήκας

[9] of songs that divinely depict [icon] the ardor of God;  [Psalms]

ἢ θείων ἐρώτων ᾄσματα καὶ ἐνθέους εἰκόνας

[10] of prophecies predicting the future;  [Prophets]

ἢ τῶν ἐσομένων τὰς ὑποφητικὰς προαναρρήσεις

[11] of the divine works of Jesus the man; [Synoptic Gospels]

ἢ τὰς ἀνδρικὰς Ἰησοῦ θεουργίας

[12] of the god-given and god-imitating communities and sacred teachings of his disciples; [Acts & Epistles]

ἢ τὰς τῶν αὐτοῦ μαθητῶν θεοπαραδότους καὶ θεομιμήτους πολιτείας καὶ ἱερὰς διδασκαλίας

[13] of the hidden and mystical vision of that inspired man who was the most beloved of the disciples; [Apocalypse]

ἢ τὴν κρυφίαν καὶ μυστικὴν ἐποψίαν τοῦ τῶν μαθητῶν ἀγαπητοῦ καὶ θεσπεσίοϋ

[14] and the supermundane doctrine concerning the divine [nature] [theologia] of Jesus. [Gospel of John]

ἢ τὴν ὑπερκόσμιον Ἰησοῦ θεολογίαν

   -  [All of these] are for those capable of being divinized, who are rooted in the sacred and godlike upliftings of the sacraments.

τοῖς πρὸς θέωσιν ἐπιτηδείοις ὑφηγήσατο 84 καὶ ταῖς ἱεραῖς τῶν τελετῶν καὶ θεοειδέσιν ἀναγωγαῖς συνερρίζωσεν,
Furthermore, the sacred texts containing the divine songs have as their goal: ἡ δὲ τῶν θείων ᾠδῶν ἱερογραφία σκοπὸν ἔχουσα

to hymn all doctrine concerning divine [nature] and divine deeds; 

τὰς θεολογίας τε καὶ θεουργίας ἁπάσας ὑμνῆσαι

and to sing the sacred words and sacred deeds of all divine men. 

καὶ τὰς τῶν θείων ἀνδρῶν ἱερολογίας τε καὶ ἱερουργίας αἰνέσαι
They are a universal hymn set to divine poetry  καθολικὴν ποιεῖται τῶν θείων ᾠδὴν
and they enable everyone who recites it in a divine and holy fashion always to receive and to pass on the sacrament of the hierarchy. καὶ ἀφήγησιν πρὸς πάσης ἱεραρχικῆς τελετῆς ὑποδοχὴν καὶ μετάδοσιν ἕξιν οἰκείαν ἐμποιοῦσα τοῖς ἐνθέως αὐτὴν ἱερολογοῦσιν.
5. When these sacred hymns, with their summaries of holy truth, have prepared the faculties of our souls to be at one with [the rites] we shall shortly celebrate,  <5> Ὅταν οὖν ἡ περιεκτικὴ τῶν πανιέρων ὑμνολογία τὰς ψυχικὰς ἡμῶν ἕξεις ἐναρμονίως διαθῇ πρὸς τὰ μικρὸν ὕστερον ἱερουργηθησόμενα

and when they have attuned us to the divine harmony and have brought us into harmony:

καὶ τῇ τῶν θείων ᾠδῶν ὁμοφωνίᾳ

with divine realities,

with ourselves,

and with others,

τὴν πρὸς τὰ θεῖα

καὶ ἑαυτοὺς

καὶ ἀλλήλους


in such a way that we make up one homogeneous choir of the sacred, ὡς μιᾷ καὶ ὁμολόγῳ τῶν ἱερῶν χορείᾳ νομοθετήσῃ
then whatever abridgement and obscure matters are offered through the noetic [and] sacred recitation of the psalmody τὰ συντετμημένα καὶ συνεσκιασμένα μᾶλλον ἐν τῇ νοερᾷ τῶν ψαλμῶν ἱερολογίᾳ
are expanded by the fuller, more comprehensible images and proclamations in the sacred readings of the holy texts. διὰ πλειόνων καὶ σαφεστέρων εἰκόνων καὶ ἀναρρήσεων εὐρύνεται ταῖς ἱερωτάταις τῶν ἁγιογράφων συντάξεων ἀναγνώσεσιν. 
 Anyone who looks at these [texts] devoutly will see [in them the cause of] both union and out-breathed oneness, the movement towards which [comes] from the spirit of the Divinity. Ἐν ταύταις ὁ βλέπων ἱερῶς ὄψεται τὴν ἑνοειδῆ καὶ μίαν ἔμπνευσιν ὡς ὑφ' ἑνὸς τοῦ θεαρχικοῦ πνεύματος κεκινημένην.
11. [...]Yet the goodness of the Deity has endless love for humanity and never ceased from benignly pouring out on us its providential gifts.  Ἡ δὲ τῆς θεαρχικῆς ἀγαθότητος ἀπειροτάτη φιλανθρωπία καὶ τὴν αὐτουργὸν ἡμῶν ἀγαθοπρεπῶς οὐκ ἀπηνήνατο πρόνοιαν,
It took upon itself in a most authentic way all the characteristics of our nature, except sin. It became one with us in our lowliness, losing nothing of its own real condition, suffering no change or loss.  ἀλλ' ἐν ἀληθεῖ μεθέξει τῶν καθ' ἡμᾶς γενομένη πάντων ἀναμαρτήτως καὶ πρὸς τὸ ταπεινὸν ἡμῶν ἑνοποιηθεῖσα μετὰ τῆς τῶν οἰκείων ἀσυγχύτου καὶ ἀλωβήτου παντελῶς ἕξεως
It allowed us, as those of equal birth, to enter into communion with it and to acquire a share of its own true beauty. τὴν πρὸς αὐτὴν ἡμῖν κοινωνίαν ὡς ὁμογενέσι λοιπὸν ἐδωρήσατο καὶ τῶν οἰκείων ἀνέδειξε μετόχους καλῶν,
Thus, as our hidden tradition teaches, it made it possible for us to escape from the domain of the rebellious, and it did this not through overwhelming force, but, as scripture mysteriously tells us, by an act of judgment and also in all righteousness. τῆς μὲν ἀποστατικῆς πληθύος, ὡς ἡ κρυφία παράδοσις ἔχει, τὸ καθ' ἡμῶν καταλύσασα κράτος οὐ κατὰ δύναμιν ὡς ὑπερισχύουσα, κατὰ δὲ τὸ μυστικῶς ἡμῖν παραδοθὲν λόγιον ἐν κρίσει καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ,
Beneficently it wrought a complete change in our nature τὰ καθ' ἡμᾶς δὲ πρὸς τοὐναντίον ἅπαν ἀγαθουργῶς μετασκευάσασα·
It filled our shadowed and unshaped minds with a kindly, divine light and adorned them with a loveliness suitable to their divinized state τὸ μὲν γὰρ κατὰ νοῦν ἡμῶν ἀλαμπὲς ἐνέπλησεν ὀλβίου καὶ θειοτάτου φωτὸς καὶ τοῖς θεοειδέσιν ἐκόσμησε τὸ ἀνείδεον κάλλεσι,

It saved our nature from almost complete wreckage and delivered the dwelling place of our soul from the most accursed passion and from destructive defilement. Finally, it showed us a supramundane uplifting and an inspired way of life in shaping ourself to it as fully as lay in our power.

τὸ δὲ τῆς ψυχῆς οἰκητήριον ἐν παντελεῖ σωτηρίᾳ τῆς ὅσον οὔπω καταπεσούσης ἡμῶν οὐσίας ἐναγεστάτων παθῶν καὶ φθοροποιῶν μολυσμῶν ἠλευθέρωσεν ἀναγωγὴν ἡμῖν ὑπερκόσμιον ὑποδείξασα καὶ πολιτείαν ἔνθεον ἐν ταῖς πρὸς αὐτὴν ἡμῶν ἱεραῖς  92 κατὰ τὸ δυνατὸν ἀφομοιώσεσιν.  

12. This imitation of God, how else are we to achieve it if not by endlessly reminding ourselves of God’s sacred works and doing so by way of the sacred hymns and the sacred acts established by the hierarchy? 

<12> Τὸ θεομίμητον δὲ πῶς ἂν ἡμῖν ἑτέρως ἐγγένοιτο μὴ τῆς τῶν ἱερωτάτων θεουργιῶν μνήμης ἀνανεουμένης ἀεὶ ταῖς ἱεραρχικαῖς ἱερολογίαις τε καὶ ἱερουργίαις;   
We do this, as the scriptures say, in remembrance of him. Τοῦτο ποιοῦμεν ὡς τὰ λόγιά φησιν εἰς τὴν αὐτῆς ἀνάμνησιν.
This is why the hierarch, the man of God, stands before the divine altar. He praises the divine works which I have mentioned, those sacred works wrought gloriously by Jesus, exercising here his most divine providence for the salvation of the human race. This he does, as scripture tells us, for the good pleasure of the most holy Father and the holy Spirit.  Ἔνθεν ὁ θεῖος ἱεράρχης ἐπὶ τοῦ θείου θυσιαστηρίου καταστὰς ὑμνεῖ τὰς εἰρημένας ἱερὰς θεουργίας Ἰησοῦ τῆς θειοτάτης ἡμῶν προνοίας, ἃς ἐπὶ σωτηρίᾳ τοῦ γένους ἡμῶν εὐδοκίᾳ τοῦ παναγεστάτου πατρὸς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ κατὰ τὸ λόγιον ἐτελείωσεν.
And the hierarch sings the praises of all this venerable work and beholds with the eyes of the mind this spectacle for conceptual contemplation. He proceeds to the task of the symbolic sacred act.  Υμνήσας δὲ καὶ τὴν σεβασμίαν αὐτῶν καὶ νοητὴν θεωρίαν ἐν νοεροῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἐποπτεύσας ἐπὶ τὴν συμβολικὴν αὐτῶν ἱερουργίαν
He does this in accordance with the rules laid down by God himself, which is the reason why, at the same time, having sung the sacred praises of the divine works, he apologizes, as befits a hierarch, for being the one to undertake a sacred task so far beyond him. Reverently he cries out:  ἔρχεται καὶ τοῦτο θεοπαραδότως ὅθεν εὐλαβῶς τε ἅμα καὶ ἱεραρχικῶς μετὰ τοὺς ἱεροὺς τῶν θεουργιῶν ὕμνους ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑπὲρ αὐτὸν ἱερουργίας ἀπολογεῖται πρότερον ἱερῶς πρὸς αὐτὸν ἀναβοῶν
It is you who said Do this in remembrance of me.  Σὺ εἶπας "Τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν"
He prays, then, to be made more worthy to do this holy task in imitation of God. He prays that, like Christ himself, he might perform the divine things. He prays too that he might impart wisely and that all those taking part may do so without irreverence. Then he performs the most divine acts and lifts into view the things praised through the sacredly clothed symbols.  Εἶτα τῆς θεομιμήτου ταύτης ἱερουργίας ἄξιος αἰτήσας γενέσθαι καὶ τῇ πρὸς αὐτὸν Χριστὸν ἀφομοιώσει τὰ θεῖα τελέσαι καὶ διαδοῦναι πανάγνως καὶ τοὺς τῶν ἱερῶν μεθέξοντας ἱεροπρεπῶς μετασχεῖν ἱερουργεῖ τὰ θειότατα καὶ ὑπ' ὄψιν ἄγει τὰ ὑμνημένα διὰ τῶν ἱερῶς προκειμένων συμβόλων.̈
The bread which had been covered and undivided is now uncovered and divided into many parts. Similarly, he shares the one cup with all, symbolically multiplying and distributing the One in symbolic fashion. With these things he completes the most holy sacred act.  Τὸν γὰρ ἐγκεκαλυμμένον καὶ ἀδιαίρετον ἄρτον ἀνακαλύψας καὶ εἰς πολλὰ διελὼν καὶ τὸ ἑνιαῖον τοῦ ποτηρίου πᾶσι καταμερίσας συμβολικῶς τὴν ἑνότητα πληθύνει καὶ διανέμει παναγεστάτην ἐν τούτοις ἱερουργίαν τελῶν.̈
For because of his goodness and his love for humanity the simple, hidden oneness of Jesus, the most divine Word, has taken the route of incarnation for us and, without undergoing any change, has become a reality that is composite and visible. He has beneficently accomplished for us a unifying communion with himself. He has united our humility with his own supreme divinity. Τὸ γὰρ ἓν καὶ ἁπλοῦν καὶ κρύφιον Ἰησοῦ τοῦ θεαρχικωτάτου λόγου τῇ καθ' ἡμᾶς ἐνανθρωπήσει πρὸς τὸ σύνθετόν τε καὶ ὁρατὸν ἀναλλοιώτως ἀγαθότητι καὶ φιλανθρωπίᾳ προελήλυθε 93 καὶ τὴν πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡμῶν ἑνοποιὸν κοινωνίαν ἀγαθουργῶς διεπραγματεύσατο τὰ καθ' ἡμᾶς ταπεινὰ τοῖς θειοτάτοις αὐτοῦ κατ' ἄκρον ἑνώσας,
But we in our turn have to cling to him like the members of one body” and we do so by the conformity that comes with a divine life of sinlessness. We cannot yield to the death wrought by corrupting passion, or become unable to fit ourselves in with the members of the perfect, whole divine body, unable to be at one with them and live together with them in the one committed life.  εἴπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς ὡς μέλη σώματι συναρμολογηθῶμεν αὐτῷ κατὰ τὸ ταὐτὸν τῆς ἀλωβήτου καὶ θείας ζωῆς καὶ μὴ τοῖς φθοροποιοῖς πάθεσι κατανεκρωθέντες ἀνάρμοστοι καὶ ἀκόλλητοι καὶ ἀσύζωοι γενώμεθα πρὸς τὰ θεῖα μέλη καὶ ὑγιέστατα.
If our longing is for communion with him, then we must give our full attention to his divine life in the flesh. His sacred sinlessness must be our model so that we may aspire to a godlike and unblemished condition.  Χρὴ γὰρ ἡμᾶς, εἰ τῆς πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐφιέμεθα κοινωνίας, εἰς τὴν θειοτάτην αὐτοῦ κατὰ σάρκα ζωὴν ἀποσκοπεῦσαι καὶ τῇ πρὸς αὐτὴν ἀφομοιώσει τῆς ἱερᾶς ἀναμαρτησίας εἰς τὴν θεοειδῆ καὶ ἀλώβητον ἕξιν ἀναδραμεῖν.
This is how, in a way that suits us, he will grant us communion with his likeness. Οὕτω γὰρ ἐναρμονίως ἡμῖν τὴν πρὸς τὸ ὅμοιον κοινωνίαν δωρήσεται.  

CHAPTER FIVE Concerning the Clerical Orders, powers, activities, and consecrations


            2. […] Now, the Word of God asserts that our hierarchy represents a more perfect initiation in that it is a fulfillment and completion of that hierarchy. [501D] It is both celestial and of the Law for it occupies a place half way between two opposites.  With the one it shares the contemplations of understanding; with the other it has in common the use of varied symbolism derived from the realm of perception, symbolism by means of which there is a sacred uplifting to the divine.

Τὴν τελεωτέραν δὲ μύησιν ἡ θεολογία τὴν καθ' ἡμᾶς ἱεραρχίαν φησὶν ἀποπλήρωσιν αὐτὴν ἐκείνης ἀποκαλοῦσα καὶ ἱερὰν λῆξιν. Ἔστι δὲ καὶ οὐρανία καὶ νομικὴ κοινωνικῶς τῇ μεσότητι τῶν ἄκρων ἀντιλαμβανομένη, τῇ μὲν κοινωνοῦσα ταῖς νοεραῖς θεωρίαις, τῇ δὲ ὅτι καὶ συμβόλοις αἰσθητοῖς ποικίλλεται καὶ δι' αὐτῶν ἱερῶς ἐπὶ τὸ θεῖον ἀνάγεται.
 [p.235] Like every hierarchy it has a threefold division, namely: Τὸ τρισσὸν δὲ ὡσαύτως ἔχει τῆς ἱεραρχικῆς διαιρέσεως

[1] the most holy operations of the sacraments,

[2] the godlike dispensers of the sacred things, and

[3] those guided by them, according to capacity, toward the sacred.

εἰς τὰς ἁγιωτάτας τῶν τελετῶν ἱερουργίας διαιρουμένη

καὶ τοὺς θεοειδεῖς τῶν ἱερῶν ὑπηρέτας

καὶ τοὺς ὑπ' αὐτῶν ἀναλόγως ἐπὶ τὰ ἱερὰ προσαγομένους. 

     As I have already remarked in relation both to the hierarchy of the Law and to that hierarchy which is more divine than ours, each of the three divisions of our own hierarchy is triply divided into first, middle, and last in power.  This has been effected so as to achieve a proportion appropriate to sacred objectives and so as to bring all the elements together in order into a cohesive and harmonious communion.

Ἑκάστη δὲ τῶν τριῶν τῆς καθ' ἡμᾶς ἱεραρχίας διαιρέσεων ἀκολούθως τῇ νομικῇ καὶ [p.106] τῇ θειοτέρᾳ τῶν καθ' ἡμᾶς ἱεραρχίᾳ πρώτη καὶ μέση καὶ τελευταία τάττεται δυνάμει τῆς τε ἱεροπρεποῦς ἀναλογίας προμηθουμένη καὶ τῆς ἁπάντων εὐκόσμου καὶ κατὰ τάξιν ἐναρμονίου καὶ συνδετικῆς κοινωνίας.

3. [1] The first godlike power of the most holy work of the sacraments is the sacred purification of the uninitiated.

[2] Its middle power is to illuminate and to initiate those whom it has purified.

[3] Its final power, embracing all that went before, is to bring about in the initiates a more perfect understanding of that to which they have been initiated.

<3> Ἡ μὲν οὖν ἁγιωτάτη τῶν τελετῶν ἱερουργία πρώτην μὲν ἔχει θεοειδῆ δύναμιν τὴν ἱερὰν τῶν ἀτελέστων κάθαρσιν,

μέσην δὲ τὴν τῶν καθαρθέντων φωτιστικὴν μύησιν,

ἐσχάτην δὲ καὶ τῶν προτέρων συγκεφαλαιωτικὴν τὴν τῶν μυηθέντων ἐν ἐπιστήμῃ τῶν οἰκείων μυήσεων τελείωσιν.

            The rank of the sacred ministers is divided in the following manner. Ἡ δὲ τῶν ἱερουργῶν διακόσμησις ἐν μὲν

[1] Their first power consists in purifying the uninitiated by way of the sacraments.

[2] Their middle power is to bring illumination to those whom they have purified.

[3] Finally, they have the most marvelous power of all, one which embraces all who commune in God's light, the power to perfect these by way of the perfected understanding they have of the contemplated enlightenments.

τῇ δυνάμει τῇ πρώτῃ διὰ τῶν τελετῶν ἀποκαθαίρει τοὺς ἀτελέστους,

ἐν τῇ μέσῃ δὲ φωταγωγεῖ τοὺς καθαρθέντας,

ἐν ἐσχάτῃ δὲ καὶ ἀκροτάτῃ τῶν ἱερουργῶν δυνάμεων ἀποτελειοῖ τοὺς τῷ θείῳ φωτὶ κεκοινωνηκότας ἐν ταῖς τῶν θεωρηθεισῶν ἐλλάμψεων ἐπιστημονικαῖς τελειώσεσιν.

With regard to the initiates, their first power is that of being purified. 

Ἡ δὲ τῶν τελουμένων δύναμις ἡ πρώτη μέν ἐστιν ἡ καθαιρομένη,̈

Their middle power is, after purification, the illumination which makes it possible for them to contemplate certain sacred things. 

μέση δὲ μετὰ τὴν κάθαρσιν ἡ φωτιζομένη καί τινων ἱερῶν θεωρητική,

Finally they have the power, more divine than the others, of being enlightened in the perfect understanding of the sacred illuminations which they have been permitted to contemplate.

τελευταία δὲ καὶ θειοτέρα τῶν ἄλλων ἡ τῶν ἱερῶν φωτισμῶν ὧν ἐγεγόνει θεωρός, ἐλλαμπομένη τὴν τελειωτικὴν ἐπιστήμην.

    4. [504D] It is the all-holy ordinance of the divinity that secondary things should be lifted up to the most divine ray through the mediation of the primary things.  Do we not see this in the domain of the perceptible where beings of an elementary kind first meet with their kin and proceed then to go through these in bringing their activity to bear on other beings? 

<4> Θεσμὸς μὲν οὗτός ἐστι τῆς θεαρχίας ὁ πανίερος τὸ διὰ τῶν πρώτων τὰ δεύτερα πρὸς τὸ θειότατον αὐτῆς ἀνάγεσθαι φέγγος. Ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ τὰς αἰσθητὰς τῶν στοιχείων οὐσίας ὁρῶμεν εἰς τὰ μᾶλλον αὐταῖς συγγενεστερα´ [p.107] πρῶτον ἰούσας καὶ δι' ἐκείνων ἐφ' ἕτερα τὴν οἰκείαν διϊείσας ἐνέργειαν;

Therefore the founding source of all invisible and visible order quite properly arranges for the rays of divine activity to be granted first to the more godlike beings, since theirs are the more discerning minds, minds with the native ability to receive and to pass on light, and it is through their mediation that this source transmits enlightenment and reveals itself to inferior beings in proportion to capacity. 

Εἰκότως οὖν ἡ πάσης ἀοράτου καὶ ὁρατῆς εὐκοσμίας ἀρχὴ καὶ ἵδρυσις εἰς τοὺς θεοειδεστέρους πρώτως ἐνδίδωσι τὰς θεουργικὰς ἀκτῖνας ἰέναι καὶ δι' ἐκείνων ὡς διειδεστέρων νοῶν καὶ πρὸς μετοχὴν φωτὸς καὶ μετάδοσιν οἰκείως ἐχόντων εἰς τοὺς ὑφειμένους ἀναλόγως αὐτοῖς ἐλλάμπει καὶ ἐπιφαίνεται.

    It is therefore the task of the first ranks of those beholding God to reveal fittingly and without jealousy to those of second rank the sacred sights which they behold.  To initiate others into the hierarchy is the task of those who have with perfect understanding learned the divine secret of all that has to do with their hierarchy and to whom the power of sacramental initiation has been granted.  It is the function of those who are full and understanding partners in clerical consecration to pass on, as appropriate, all that is sacred.

Τούτων οὖν ἐστι τῶν πρώτως θεοπτικῶν τὸ τοῖς δευτέροις ἀφθόνως ἐν συμμετρίᾳ τῇ κατ' αὐτοὺς ὑποδεῖξαι τὰ πρὸς αὐτῶν ἱερῶς ἐποπτευθέντα θεῖα θεάματα, καὶ τὸ μυῆσαι τὰ ἱεραρχικὰ τῶν μετ' ἐπιστήμης τελειωτικῆς τὰ θεῖα τῆς κατ' αὐτοὺς ἱεραρχίας ἅπαντα καλῶς μυηθέντων καὶ τὴν τελεσιουργὸν τοῦ μυῆσαι δύναμιν προσειληφότων, καὶ τὸ μεταδοῦναι κατ' ἀξίαν τὰ ἱερὰ τῶν ἐπιστημονικῶς καὶ ὁλοκλήρως μετασχόντων τῆς ἱερατικῆς τελειώσεως.

    6.  [505D]  *(a) It is the order of Hierarchs [=bishops], that most fully possesses the power of perfecting.  In particular, it completes every hierarchic rite of perfecting.  It revealingly teaches others to understand, explaining their sacred things, proportionate characteristics, and their holy powers. 

<6> Ἔστιν οὖν ἡ ἱεραρχικὴ τάξις ἡ τῆς τελειωτικῆς δυνάμεως ἀναπεπλησμένη τὰ τελεσιουργὰ τῆς ἱεραρχίας ἐκκρίτως τελετουργοῦσα καὶ τὰς ἐπιστήμας τῶν ἱερῶν ἐκφαντορικῶς μυοῦσα καὶ ἐκδιδάσκουσα τὰς ἀναλόγους αὐτῶν καὶ ἱερὰς ἕξεις τε καὶ δυνάμεις. 

    (b) The light-bearing order of Priests guides the initiates to the divine visions of the sacraments.  It does so by the authority of the inspired hierarchs in fellowship with whom it exercises the functions of its own ministry.  It makes known the works of God by way of the sacred symbols and it prepares the postulants to contemplate and participate in the holy sacraments.  But it sends on to the hierarch those longing for a full understanding of the divine rites which are being contemplated.

Ἡ δὲ τῶν ἱερέων φωταγωγικὴ τάξις ἐπὶ τὰς θείας τῶν τελετῶν ἐποψίας χειραγωγεῖ τοὺς τελουμένους ὑπὸ τῇ τῶν ἐνθέων ἱεραρχῶν τάξει καὶ μετ' αὐτῆς ἱερουργοῦσα τὰς οἰκείας ἱερουργίας, ἐν οἷς μὲν αὐτὴ δρᾷ τὰς θεουργίας ὑποδεικνῦσα διὰ τῶν ἱερωτάτων συμβόλων καὶ θεωρητικοὺς τοὺς προσιόντας ἀποτελοῦσα καὶ τῶν ὁσίων τελετῶν κοινωνούς, εἰς τὸν ἱεράρχην δὲ ἀναπέμπουσα τοὺς τῆς ἐπιστήμης τῶν θεωρηθεισῶν ἱερουργιῶν ἐφιεμένους.

    (c) The order of Deacons purifies and discerns those who do not carry God's likeness within themselves and it does so before they come to the sacred rites performed by the priests.  It purifies all who approach by drawing them away from all dalliance with what is evil.  It makes them receptive to the ritual vision and communion. 

Η δὲ τῶν λειτουργῶν τάξις ἡ καθαρτικὴ καὶ τῶν ἀνομοίων διακριτικὴ πρὸ τῆς ἐπὶ τὰς τῶν ἱερέων ἱερουργίας προσαγωγῆς ἀποκαθαίρει τοὺς προσιόντας ἀμιγεῖς αὐτοὺς ἀποτελοῦσα τῶν ἐναντίων καὶ πρὸς ἱερουργικὴν ἐποψίαν καὶ



    7. [508C] I have now shown that the order of hierarchs has the task of consecration and of perfection, that the illuminative order of priests brings light and that the task of the deacons is to purify and to discern the imperfect.  But it is obvious that the order of hierarchs is not solely preoccupied with perfection.  It also brings illumination and purification. 

<7> Δέδεικται τοίνυν ἡ μὲν τῶν ἱεραρχῶν τάξις τελειωτικὴ καὶ τελεσιουργός, ἡ δὲ τῶν ἱερέων φωτιστικὴ καὶ φωταγωγός, ἡ δὲ τῶν λειτουργῶν καθαρτικὴ καὶ διακριτική, δηλαδὴ τῆς ἱεραρχικῆς τάξεως οὐ τελεσιουργεῖν μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ φωτίζειν ἅμα καὶ καθαίρειν ἐπισταμένης

    Similarly, the order of priests has the understanding both to illuminate and to purify.  For although inferiors may not boldly and sacrilegiously trespass on the functions of their superiors, the more divine powers have, in addition to their own, the sacred understanding of the inferior ranks as part of their own perfection. 

καὶ τῆς τῶν ἱερέων δυνάμεως ἐχούσης ἐν ἑαυτῇ μετὰ τῆς φωτιστικῆς καὶ τὴν καθαρτικὴν ἐπιστήμην. Αἱ μὲν γὰρ ἥττους ἐπὶ τὰ κρείττω μεταπηδᾶν ἀδυνατοῦσιν–πρὸς τῷ μηδὲ θεμιτὸν αὐταῖς εἶναι πρὸς τοιαύτην ἐγχειρεῖν ἀλαζονείαν–, αἱ δὲ θειότεραι δυνάμεις μετὰ τῶν οἰκείων καὶ τὰς ὑφειμένας τῆς αὐτῶν τελειότητος ἱερὰς ἐπιστήμας γινώσκουσιν.

    Since the differences of clerical function represent symbolically the divine activities and since they bestow enlightenment corresponding to the unconfused and pure order of these activities, their sacred activities and holy orders have been arranged hierarchically in the threefold division of first, middle, and last so as to present, as I have said already, an image of the ordered and harmonious nature of the divine activities. [p.239]

Ὅμως ἐπειδὴ θείων εἰσὶν ἐνεργειῶν εἰκόνες αἱ ἱερατικαὶ διακοσμήσεις τῆς εὐκόσμου καὶ ἀσυγχύτου τῶν θείων ἐνεργειῶν τάξεως ἐν ἑαυταῖς δεικνῦσαι τὰς τεταγμένας ἐλλάμψεις, εἰς πρώτας καὶ μέσας καὶ τελευταίας ἱερὰς ἐνεργείας καὶ τάξεις ἐν διακρίσεσιν ἱεραρχικαῖς ἐτάχθησαν ἐμφαίνουσαι καθάπερ ἔφην ἐν ἑαυταῖς τῶν θείων ἐνεργειῶν τὸ τεταγμένον καὶ ἀσύμφυρτον.

    The divinity first purifies those minds which it reaches and then illuminates them.  Following on their illumination it perfects them in a perfect conformity to God.  This being so, it is clear that the hierarchy, as an image of the divine, is divided into distinctive orders and powers in order to reveal that the activities of the divinity are preeminent for the utter holiness and purity, permanence and distinctiveness of their orders.

Ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ἡ θεαρχία τοὺς ἐν οἷς ἂν ἐγγένηται, νόας ἀποκαθαίρει [p.110] πρῶτον, εἶτα φωτίζει καὶ φωτισθέντας ἀποτελειοῖ πρὸς θεοειδῆ τελεσιουργίαν, εἰκότως ἡ ἱεραρχικὴ τῶν θείων εἰκὼν εἰς διακεκριμένας ἑαυτὴν διαιρεῖ τάξεις τε καὶ δυνάμεις ἐναργῶς ὑποδεικνῦσα τὰς θεαρχικὰς ἐνεργείας ἐν παναγεστάταις καὶ ἀμιγέσι τάξεσιν εὐσταθῶς καὶ ἀσυγχύτως ἑστηκυίας.



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