«Pure prayer» gives a knowledge of God.
Participation in God is a total participation in Jesus Christ.
This affirmation of the essential transcendence of God is the corrective brought by the theologians to the spiritual teaching of the desert Fathers. Yes, «pure prayer» gives a knowledge of God. Yes, Jesus is intimately present in the Christian's heart. But this presence can never be more than a free act
of God, who in His essence remains inaccessible, a
of the essentially transcendent God.
We find the principal elements of the mysticism of Gregory of Nyssa again in Maximus the Confessor. A few quotations will bring out his realistic doctrine of deification and his Christology.
Maximus insists even more than Gregory of Nyssa on the fact that the vision of God in darkness is a prticipation
in God, a deification
(theosis). The influence of the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius, however, accentuates also the doctrine of the inaccessibility of God — «apophatic» or negative theology, which separates the divine from all objects of natural knowledge. Hence Maximus' thought sharpens the antinomy and paradox of communion with God. Deification is an entirely supernatural fact for Maximus, an act of the all-powerful God that springs
from His transcendence while remaining
The saints become that which can never belong to the power of nature alone, since nature possesses no faculty capable of perceiving what surpasses it. In fact, there is no aspect of deification that is the work of nature, since nature cannot comprehend God. Divine grace alone possesses of itself the faculty of cummunicating deification to begin in a manner analogous to them;
then nature shines forth with a supernatural light and is transported above its own limits by a superabundance of glory
PG 90, 321 A).
Participation in God is a total participation in Jesus Christ. In fact there could be no participation in a «part» of God, for the divine Being is simple and therefore indivisible, and the divine «energy» is God, not lessened, but freely revealed.