I noticed with their new catalog that Eighth Day books is offering a translation of Archimandrite Placide Deseille’s Orthodox Spirituality and the Philokalia translated from the French by Anthony P. Gythiel. Archimandrite Placide is a former Trappist monk. My first recollection of encountering his name is in the published Journals of Thomas Merton, as Merton corresponded with Fr. Placide in the 1960’s.
The Orthodox blogger over at Logismoi recently posted Archimandrite Placide (Deseille) on Orthodoxy and Catholicism in which he provides some brief translations of the Archimandrite’s thoughts on this matter from some Greek translations of Archimandrite Placide’s work. The writer promises to finish a complete translation of a lecture by Fr. Placide entitled ‘Roman Catholic Spirituality and Orthodox Tradition.’ Here are the brief excerpts of that lecture so far translated at Logismoi:
In spite of this, the teaching of the spiritual fathers in the West holds great interest, because it is inspired to a great degree by the Fathers of the Church. Among the main sources of ascetic teaching are included the Fathers of the desert, Saint Cassian and a little later St John Klimakos, together with Gregory the Great (the Dialogist). As for the mystical teaching of the West, this has been shaped on the basis of the teaching of St Augustine (which it is true was never fully ‘accepted’ by the Orthodox East), of Gregory the Great and even of St Cassian, as well as St Dionysios the Areopagite. This last, who, according to one tradition, is identified with the convert of the Apostle Paul and with the first bishop of Paris, can be viewed as ‘a catalyst of the great Catholic mystical tradition’ (P.G. Théry, ‘Dionysios in the Middle Ages: The Dawn of the “Dark Night”’, in Carmelite Studies, 23rd yr., Vol. II, Oct. 1938, p. 69). . . . At this time, these writers, in contrast to Thomas Aquinas, will understand Dionysios in a way that agrees to a great extent with the interpretation he has been given, within the Greek world, by Maximos the Confessor and Gregory Palamas.
Thanks to this permanent patristic impact . . . Roman Catholic spirituality remained relatively more homogenous with the ancient tradition than Scholastic theology.
In spite of this the differences are real and should not be minimised. They are not merely the inevitable reflection in the arena of spiritual life of the dogmatic disagreements that divide Catholicism from Orthodoxy.
Nevertheless, the absence in the West of a distinction between the imparticipable divine essence and the uncreated energies, energies that are an eternal radiance of this essence and the divine life that is communicated to creatures, will always leave the Orthodox with the impression that Western Christianity is continually suspended between a pantheistic confusion between God and man on the one hand, and on the other a purely metaphorical interpretation of theosis, which deprives it of its real content and demotes the spiritual life to a life of lofty ethics.
I look forward to the completion of this translation.