St. Gregory Palamas: The Approachable Genius

St Gregory Palamas Homilies by Mt. Thabor PublishingThere’s a tendency for us modern folks to feel that the teachings of the fathers of the church are too lofty and are unapproachable for the common person.  So, if we read at all, we stick to modern authors who distill the works of the fathers into something more intellectually palatable.

However, I don’t believe this watering down of the fathers is necessary.  Granted, some fathers such as St. Maximos the Confessor are quite lofty and can be difficult to understand at times.  There are also some modern Greek theologians who make me pull out my dictionary with every other sentence.

But besides these and a few others, most of the works of the fathers are quite approachable.  Why?  Because, as anyone who studies history knows, we are not so different than the people who have come before us.  Therefore, the issues that even the most ancient fathers address are quite similar to our everyday problems.  While there are new ways to sin (cyber theft, internet pornography, etc), these are still the same base passions with slightly different means.

Years ago, I heard somewhere that the true genius does not need to talk above everyone else, but is able to grasp the truth so effectively that he can explain it in a way that most ordinary people can understand. 

St. Gregory Palamas was that type of genius.  Many of his homilies were delivered to laity and simple monks and were not meant to be complicated expositions of the faith.  I have found many of his homilies to be quite edifying and most of them are simple and easy to understand.  I have repeatedly used his homilies as my basis for blogs on this site and for teaching the youth at my church.

I’m writing this blog because the publisher of his book of Homilies has it on sale for an excellent price that is much lower than what I paid.  It contains sixty-three homilies that mostly follow the church calendar, including teachings on fasting, prayer, the feast days, commentaries on parables and gospel readings, salvation, theology, etc.  It is a hefty 800 pages, but of that only 525 are the homilies.  The remainder is references, explanatory notes, and and various helpful indices.  That book is on sale until Palm Sunday, which is this coming Sunday.  You can purchase a copy here: http://mountthabor.com/shop/saint-gregory-palamas-the-homilies/

If you are interested in these homilies, but don’t think you have the time or attention span to tackle such a big book, I would recommend the 80 page concise collection of St. Gregory’s homilies on The Parables of Jesus.  From the publisher, “[this book] covers the parables of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Prodigal Son, the Second Coming, the Unforgiving Servant, the Marriage Feast, the Sower, and of Lazarus and the Rich Man.”  This is the book that I started with and it whet my appetite for more of his work.


END NOTE:

I was not asked by the publisher or anyone else to write this blog, nor have I received any benefit for doing so.  This is something I simply wanted to share because I have found it so useful in my own spiritual journey.

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Jeremiah

Growing up in non-denominational churches, I became weary of many practices in the church. I decided it was time to find a church that enabled me to grow in my faith and talents, but that was also theologically deep. I was drawn to the Eastern Orthodox Church for several reasons. Check out my blog which details my journey into this ancient faith.