Sinfonia is a political theory. It is not a religious doctrine. A religious man needs no secular partner, yet a secular man values Christians for their sanity. Sinfonia is a purely political decision. The political creature does well to populate its society with highly moral citizens. Christians are productive and fertile. They pay their taxes. If the ruling, executive power is also a religious, Christian man, at least he might not sin. But if his Christian subjects absorb a measure of secularity and declare it holy, they are beginning to lose their sanity. They are operating out of fear. Sinfonia marks a degradation in Christian consciousness. A marked indifference to Mammon indicates a healthy, Christian mind. A healthy, Christian mind is impervious to ideology.
A committee is not a council. A permanent synod, or a boutique one, is not a free expression of holy inspiration. A holy council is a spontaneous response to a crisis. An abbot, an arch-hierarch, will take advice is he is sensible and wise. Oneness of mind lacks intent; that is, a council of elders consents to the indications of wisdom. Its members do not collude with each other in order to enact the intentions of a secular design. An arch-hierarch has no arch-arch-hierarch above him. Arch-arch-arch… this is impossible. A bishop needs no overseer.
An Anglophone must do without a Bible. An English speaker needs to access the Bible in Greek, Slavonic, Latin, and the semitic languages. He must understand Holy Writ, including the Desert Fathers, Church Councils, canons, letters, etc. He must grasp history, and sense the shifting, linguistic usages across place and time. He must know heresy, distinguishing it in its thousand forms. He must be a critic of politics, society and monastic life. But, finally, he must himself be a theologian. He must noetically understand by grace what is unsayable in the life of the Holy Spirit. Then the English thinker can float in the vagaries of his own language without doing harm to the aeternal truths that wordlessly touch his soul.
To “cut off one’s will” is to forego the objects of one’s desire. To “cut off one’s will” does not mean “to not have a will”. That’s clearly impossible. A man whose memory, reason or will are not functioning is not functioning as a man. Our mixed desires reflect the cross-currents in our will. We drift away from the Lord in those desires that are private to ourselves alone. The Lord cannot share such desires with us. If we persist in those desires, they become habitually compulsive, yet their objects fail to satisfy. This is hell, but it is not the worst hell. A worse hell is the loss of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. But when we maintain the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, then we are comforming ourselves to the Lord’s will. When that happens, then sinful objects lose their appeal. We see them for what they are. This is freedom. To”cut off one’s will,” in this sense, is to enter into freedom, the kingdom of heaven. This is the blessing of the Lord.
In pagan terms, μακαριος refers to the effortless self-sufficiency of a god in the plenitude of his power. In the same way, but in human terms, this effortless self-sufficiency is echoed in, say, Billie Holiday’s “God bless the Child that’s got his own” or even in the easy, downward stroll of Albert Camus’ Sisyphus. But in Christian terms, blessedness is always recognised externally. It is not an interior, emotional affect. It is always outward sign of grace. These signs of grace are always spiritual, but may be exhibited materially or even immaterially. Whoever enjoys the presence of the Holy Spirit will sense the peace and rest of the Kingdom of Heaven within him. Virtue will flow from such a man by divine energy and power. All the circumstances of his life, no matter how deplorable they might be, will be sanctified by the virtue that comes to him from the Lord his God. In other words, we are not blessed by fortunate circumstances, but rather the Lord our God blesses the circumstances of our life through the virtue that He grants to us in the power of our soul. In the same way, in the interior landscape of our soul, the presence of the peace and rest of God will not remove the defects of our soul. Rather, the energy of God’s dynamic love for us with quieten the effects of our sins in our heart, and will shield our will from the temptation to sin. When that happens, the interior objects of our soul receive the blessing of the Lord, for now even the thorns in our side point us towards the keeping of God’s grace.