De Coelesti Hierarchia (Greek: Περὶ τῆς Οὐρανίας Ἱεραρχίας, “On the Celestial Hierarchy”) is a Pseudo-Dionysian work on angelology, written in Greek and. THE CELESTIAL HIERARCHY. CHAPTER I. To my fellow-presbyter Timothy, Dionysius the Presbyter. That every divine illumination, while going forth with love. De Coelesti Hierarchia (Q). work by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. On the Celestial Hierarchy; Heavenly Hierarchy; On the Heavenly Hierarchy.

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I consider, then, that in the first place we must explain our conception of the purpose of each Hierarchy and the good conferred by each upon its followers; secondly we must celebrate the Celestial Hierarchies as they are revealed in the Scriptures; and finally we must say under what holy figures the descriptions in the sacred writings portray those Celestial Orders, and to what kind of purity we ought to be guided through those forms lest we, like the many, should impiously suppose that those Celestial and Divine Intelligences are many-footed or many-faced beings, or formed with the brutishness of oxen, or the savageness of lions, or the curved beaks of eagles, or the feathers of birds, or should imagine that they are some kind of fiery wheels above the heavens, or material thrones upon which the Supreme Deity may recline, or many-coloured horses, or commanders of arm- ies, or whatever else of symbolic description has been given to us in the various sacred images of the Scriptures.

The power of taste represents an abundance of spiritual food and the reception of divine streams of nourishment.

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Holy contemplations can therefore be derived from all things, and the above-named incongruous similitudes can be fashioned from material things to symbolize that which is intelligible and intellectual, since the intellectual has in another manner what has been attributed differently to the perceptible.

These holy characteristics in which the secondary natures are granted participation through the first, they ascribe to those very Intelligences, after God, as Hierarchs. Let us now mount upward to that most sublime of all Lights celebrated in the Scriptures: You will find this variously set forth by theologians, for when the Divine and Fatherly Love for man reproved the Israelites and chastened them for their salvation by delivering them for their correction into the hands of cruel and barbaric nations, and with providential guidance led them back by many paths to a better condition, and mercifully recalled them from captivity to freedom and their former happy state, one of the theologians, named Zachariah, sees one of those Angels which, as I believe are first and nearest to God for the name Angel, as I have said, is common to allreceiving from God Himself the words of comfort, as they are called, and another Angel of lower rank going to meet the first as if to receive and partake of the light, and then receiving from him, as from a hierarch, the divine purpose, being directed to reveal to the theologian that Jerusalem should be inhabited by a great and fruitful nation.

All inanimate things participate in It through their being; for the ‘to be’ of all things is the Divinity above Being Itself, the true Life. The heart is a symbol of that Divine Life which imparts its own life-giving power beneficently to those within its care.

The name given to the holy Dominions signifies, I think, a certain unbounded elevation to that which is above, freedom from all that is of the earth, and from all inward inclination to the bondage of discord, a liberal superiority to harsh tyranny, an exemptness from degrading servility and from all that is low: And is not this statement true?

For the names of these supernal Beings denote the divine characteristics of their likeness to God. If the spiritual is foreign to it, what is the use of trying? The choir of the holy Archangels is placed in the same threefold Order as the Celestial Principalities; for, as has been said, there is one Hierarchy and Order which includes these and the Angels.


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Thus it is possible, I think, to find in the various parts of our bodies fitting symbols of the Celestial Powers by taking, for example, the power of sight as an image of their most transparent upliftment to the Divine Light, their single, free, unresisting reception of that Light, their responsiveness and pure receptivity without passion to the divine illuminations.

But we fittingly proclaim the sovereignty, as Supermundane Beings, of the immaterial and intellectual Natures over our discursive and corporeal reasoning and sense-perceptions, which are remote from those Divine Intelligences.

The theologians therefore clearly show that the lower ranks of the Celestial Beings receive the understanding of the divine works from those above them in a fitting manner, hierarchi that the highest are correspondingly enlightened in the Divine Mysteries by the Most High God Himself.

The knowledge which hiefarchia said to be imparted by one Angel to another may be interpreted as a symbol of that perfecting which is effected from afar and made obscure because of its passage to the second rank. And thus all things are in continuity with each other. The prophet was taught by the Angel who was leading him to light that the divine purification, and all the other divine activities shining forth through the First Beings, are imparted to all the others in the measure of the fitness of each for the divine participations.

Again, of the many coloured varieties of stones, the white represents that which is luminous, and the red corresponds to fire, yellow to gold, and green to youth and vigour. The spears and battle-axes represent the power of dividing incongruous things and the keen, vigorous and effectual power of discrimination. This also may be rightly said. By moulding itself after their likeness our own hierarchy will, as far as possible, be assimilated to it and will, in very deed, show forth, as in images, the angelic beauty; receiving its form from them, and being uplifted by them to the superessential Source of every Hierarchy.

Steadfastness comes from simplicity, simplicity from purification. But since that single and manifold Wisdom both clothes the naked and assigns to them implements to carry, let us unfold, as far as we can, these sacred garments and instruments of the Celestial Intelligences. Or what could establish more. There is, therefore, one Source of Light for everything which is illuminated, namely, God, who by His Nature, truly and rightly, is the Essence of Light, and Cause of being and of vision.

What is meant by their brass and electron? Thus all those who are wise in divine matters, and are interpreters of the mystical revelations, set apart in purity the Holy of Holies from the uninitiated and unpurified, and prefer incongruous symbols for holy things, so that divine things may not be easily accessible to the unworthy, nor may those who earnestly contemplate the divine symbols dwell upon the forms themselves as the final truth.

It is clear that the Hierarchy is similar in its nature and has close affinity with those First Beings who are established after the Godhead, which is the Source of their Being, as though within Its Portals, transcending all – created powers, both visible and invisible.

Further it is meet that those who purify should bestow upon others from their abundance of purity their own holiness: Living things participate in Its life-giving Power above all life; rational things participate in Its self-perfect and pre-eminently perfect Wisdom above all reason and intellect.


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Hierarchiq, theology wisely teaches that it was communicated to us by Angels, coelestii though the authority of the Divine Law decreed that the second should be guided to the Divine Majesty by the first. In the case of the irrational or the insensitive things, such as brutes among living creatures, or inanimate objects, we rightly say that these are deprived of reason, or of sense-perception. For these have ce part in that which is lowest, but dwell in fullest power, immovably and perfectly established in the Most High, and receive the Divine Immanence above all passion and matter, and manifest God, being attentively open to divine participations.

Therefore we must recognize that they are pure, not as having been cleansed from stains and defilements, nor as not admitting material images, but as far higher than all baseness, and surpassing all that is holy.

And sometimes they celebrate Deity Itself with lofty symbolism as the Sun of justice, as the Morning Star rising mystically in the mind, or as Light shining forth unclouded and intelligibly; and sometimes they use images of things on earth, such as fire flashing forth with harmless flame, or water affording abundance of life symbolically flowing into a belly and gushing out in perpetually overflowing rivers and streams. For He Himself says, in the manner of a herald, that whatsoever He heard from the Father He announced unto us.

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Another theologian, Ezekiel, says that the most sacred edict came forth from the supremely glorious Godhead Itself, exalted above the Cherubim. For they are utterly above and beyond our passionate pleasures.

For our life is not ruled by necessity, nor are the divine irradiations of Providential Light obscured because of the freewill of those under Its care; but it is the dissimilarity of the mental eyes which causes the Light streaming forth resplendently from the Goodness of the Father to be either totally unshared and unaccepted through their resistance to It, or causes an unequal participation, small or great, dark or bright, of that Fontal Ray which nevertheless is one and unmixed, eternally changeless, and for ever abundantly shed forth.

Wherefore the prophet described the feet of the Celestial Intelligences as being covered by their wings which symbolize a swift soaring to the heights, and the heavenly progression up the steep, and the exemption from everything earthly through the upward ascent. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica, I. De Coelesti Hierarchia by Shamsiel.

Therefore I think that this image of fire signifies the perfect conformity to God of the Celestial Intelligences For the holy prophets frequently liken that which is superessential and formless to fire which if it may lawfully be said possesses many resemblances as in visible things to the Divine Reality.

Power cleanses, clear truth makes serene, finished love makes perfect. What is the meaning of the formal semblances of the Angelic Powers?

Another brought to the shepherds the glad tidings, as to those purified by quiet withdrawal from the many, and with him a multitude of the heavenly host gave forth to all the dwellers upon earth our often-sung hymn of adoring praise.

Our venerable hierarch describes this threefold Order as a co-equal unity, and truly the most exalted hierarcgia the Hierarchies, the most fully Godlike, and the most closely and immediately united to the First Light of the Godhead. But we deny that in using the general name, Celestial Powers, for all we cause any confusion with regard to the characteristics of each Order.

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