Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Perfection of the Person

Vladimir Lossky (1903-1958), one of the greatest Orthodox theologians of the 20th century.

Lately, I have been re-reading Vladimir Lossky's The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, one of the most profound and well-loved twentieth-century works of Orthodox theology. I first read it in 2003 (probably a bit too quickly) while going through the St. Stephen's Course of Orthodox Theology. This deep and profound book is a must-read for all who would understand Orthodoxy.

The other day, I came across a great quote that I apparently skimmed over too quickly the first time. I didn't even remember having read it. This quote succinctly expresses the Orthodox understanding of our calling as human persons:

The perfection of the person consists in self-abandonment: the person expresses itself most truly in that it renounces to exist for itself.

May God give us all the strength to renounce existing only for ourselves and live above all else for God and others as did our Lord Jesus.


Jessica said...

Whoa... creepy... I just read Fr. Stephen Freeman's blog (which you were right in recommending!), and I think you two must have been reading each other's minds. Of course, you can never emphasize humility enough.

Not to downgrade Lossky (I've never read the Mystical Theology), but it's hard to beat the Phillipians passage that Fr. Stephen cites.

Clint said...

Wow, a Lossky quote that is understandable - that is something.

Seriously, I remember reading Lossky before too. I also read it to quickly and with such a limited Orthodox vocabulary and understanding that I am sure I missed 99% of what he was saying and misunderstood the majority of the rest. I'll have to read it again.

Maybe in a few months...

Fr. James Early said...


There is no question that the second chapter of Philippians is the passage par excellence on humility. All other Christian writings on humility are but commentaries on and supplements to it.

I am sure that Lossky would have heartily agreed with this.

charlene said...

This 22 word quote says more about how to follow the path to God than anything I have read in a long time. I have retyped it and put it in a place where I will see it every day. Thank you for sharing with us.