St. Nicetas of Remesiana: “Many names and titles…which are to help us grasp the nature and range of His power..”

Commemoration of St. Gregory of Nyssa
January 23, 2015
Romanian Patriarchate Hosts Service for “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”
January 23, 2015

St. Nicetas of Remesiana: “Many names and titles…which are to help us grasp the nature and range of His power..”

January 23, 2015

St. Nicetas of Remesiana was an Orthodox bishop in the late 4th and early 5th century.  His see was in the present day Serbian town of Bela Palanka, which anciently was called “Remesiana”.   He was a great defender of the Orthodox doctrine on the Trinity, as well as a great missionary. He was friends with St. Paulinus of Nola in Italy, and both together were well-known for composing liturgical hymns in the Latin language.

One of his works is often called, “The Names and Titles of Our Saviour”.  In this work, St. Nicetas nowhere states what Name-Worshipers claim, i.e., the Name of God is God by nature.  Instead, he affirms that the many and diverse appellations given to God, though all applying back to the “same Son of God Who is Our God” are nevertheless “names—which are to help us grasp the nature and range of His power.”  In other words, the Names of God are not the Power of God, there is no 1=1 correlation.  Just as we find in other Fathers where it is taught that appellations may be given to describe the Power, or Grace (Energies), of God, which is Uncreated, because It can be communicated, though the Essence is not named because it is in now way communicable to created beings.  Yet, the naming does not imply natural Uncreatedness to the Names, though they are Holy and Grace-Endowed.  The following is the work of St. Nicetas on this subject. It is taken from the “Fathers of the Church” series, the following section of which is free on google books.

 

The Names and Titles of Our Saviour

(De diversis appellationibus)

    In the Holy Scriptures there are many names and titles which are applied to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus. He is said to be the Word; He is called Wisdom, Light, and Power; right hand, arm and angel; man and lamb, sheep and priest. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life; a vine, Justice and Redemption; bread, a stone and doctor; a fount of living water; peace and judge and door. Yet, for all these names–which are to help us grasp the nature and range of His power–there is but one and the same Son of God Who is our God.

    Therese, then, are His names; but what are the meanings of these names? He is called the Word, first, to imply that He was begotten of the Father with no more passivity or substantial diminution in the Father than there is in a person who utters a spoken word; second, for the obvious reason that God the Father has always spoken through Him both to men and angels. The name Wisdom tells us that in the beginning all things, through Him, were ordered wisely. He is the Light, because it was He Who brought light into the primordial darkness of the world and Who, by His coming among men, dissipated the darkness of their minds. Power is one of His names, since no created thing can ever overcome Him. He is a right hand and arm, for through Him all things were made and by Him they are all sustained. He is called an angel of great counsel, because He is the announcer of His Father’s will. He is said to be the Son of Man, because on account of us men He deigned to be Born a Man. He is called a lamb, because of His perfect innocent; a sheep, to symbolize His Passion. For two reasons He is called a Priest: first, because He Offered up His Body as an Oblation and Victim to God the Father for us; second, because, through us, He condescend day after day to be Offered up. He is the Way along which we journey to our salvation; the Truth, because He rejects what is false; the Life, because He destroys death. He is a Vine, because He spread out the branches of His Arms that the world might pluck in clusters the grapes of consolation from the Cross. His is called Justice, because through faith in His Name sinners are made just; and Redemption, because He paid the price in His Blood to buy us back–we who had been so long lost. He is called Bread, because by His Gospel He fed the hunger of our ignorance; and a Stone, both because on Him the serpent left no trace and because He afforded us protection. He is the Doctor Who came to visit us and cured our weakness and our wounds; the Fount of Living Water, because by the ‘bath of regeneration’ He cleanses sinners and give them life. He is Peace, because He brought together those who lived apart, and reconciled us to God the Father. He is the Resurrection, because He will raise all bodies from their graves; and the Judge because it is He Who will judge both the living and the dead. He is the Door, because it is by Him that those who believe enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

    These many names and titles belong to One Lord. Take courage, therefore, O man of faith, and plant your hope firmly in Him. If you would learn of the Father, listen to this Word. If you would be wise, ask Him Who is Wisdom. When it is too dark for you to see, seek Christ, for He is the Light. Are you sick? Have recourse to Him Who is both Doctor and Health. Would you know by Whom the world was made and all things are sustained? Believe in Him, for He is the Arm and Right Hand. Are you afraid of this or that?  Remember that on all occasions He will stand by your side like an angel. If you find it hard to meet face to face the High Majesty of the Only-Begotten, do not lose hope. Remember, He was made Man to make it easy for men to approach Him.  If you are innocent, like a lamb He will join your company. If you are saddened by pagan persecution, take courage. Remember that He Himself went like a Lamb to the slaughter, and, priest that He is, He will offer you up as a victim to the Father. If you do not know the way of salvation, look for Christ, for He is the Road for souls.  If it is Truth that you want, listen to Him, for He is the Truth. Have no fear whatever of death, for Christ is the Life of those who believe.  Do the pleasures of the world seduce you? Turn all the more to the Cross of Christ to find solace in the sweetness of the vine clustered there. Are you a lost sinner? Then you must hunger for justice and thirst for the Redeemer, for that is what Christ is. Because He is Bread, He takes away all hunger. If you are stumbling, fix your foot firmly on Him, for He is a Rock; and like a wall He will protect you. Are you weak and sick? Ask for a medicine from Him, because His a Doctor. Especially, if you are still unbaptized, you may suffer from the ardors of passion. Then hurry to the well of life to put out the flame and to gain for your soul eternal life. If anger is tormenting you and you are torn by dissension, appeal to Christ, Who is Peace, and you will be reconciled to the Father and will love everyone as you would like to be loved yourself. If you are afriad that your body is failing and have a dread of death, remember that He is the Resurrection, and can raise up what has fallen. When sinful pleasure tempts you and the flesh is weak, recall that you are in the Presence of a Just Judge, severe in weighing the evidence and one Who is making ready everlasting fire. Then, sinner as you are, you will loose your taste for sin. In your hour of death, brother, should you lose hope of obtain a just reward in heavenly glory, be bold in faith to remember that His the Door, and through Him, once you are raised from the dead, you will entere the Mysteries of Heaven, join the company of Angels, and hear the longed-for words: “Well done, good and faithful servant; because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many; enter the joy of Thy Master….take possession of the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”  Amen.