October 3

Dionysius the Areopagite


Today the Orthodox churches commemorate the author of the Corpus Areopagiticum, who became known in history as Dionysius the Areopagite.
The discrepancy between the very little we know about his life and the powerful impact his work exerted on the spirituality and theology of later centuries is surprising, perhaps more so than for any other Church father. Dionysius was probably a Christian of Syriac ancestry who lived in Athens for many years. Strongly influenced by the last neoplatonic philosophers, who were active in the city during his lifetime, he composed a series of writings to which he signed the name of the Athenian who was converted by Paul's preaching at the Areopagus, according to the Acts of the Apostles.
In his Ecclesiastical Hierarchy and Celestial Hierarchy, Dionysius inquires into the cosmic order at whose summit is Jesus Christ alone, both in heaven and in the militant Church on earth. In his Divine Names, he employs "positive" theology, analyzing the attributes Scripture assigns to God as a way of seeking out what human beings can attempt to say about God on the basis of revelation. But Dionysius was above all a prominent voice in "negative" theology, according to which one can reach God only by naming the attributes that cannot be attributed to him. All that is left, at that point, is to enter the "more than luminous darkness of silence" and of the unknowing of God, which alone leads the seeker to the ineffable mystery of God's Triunity.

Acts 17:16-34; Mt 13:44-54