(Greek: hesychos, quiet)

A system of mysticism defended by the monks of Athos in the 14th century. It is the only great mystic movement in the Orthodox Church, and reopened the controversy with Rome. The Hesychasts maintained that it is possible by means of asceticism, detachment from earthly cares, submission to an approved master, prayer, and perfect repose of body and will, to see the uncreated light of God. There seems to have been a strong element of Pantheism and a tendency to neo-Platonism in the fully developed system. From one point of view the Hesychast controversy may be considered an issue between Greek Platonist philosophy and Latin rationalist Aristoteleanism. The Hesychasts were vehemently Byzantine and bitter opponents of the West, while their opponents were Latinizers, eager for reunion. By the end of the 14th century, Hesychasm had become a dogma of the Orthodox Church and is so still. Interest in the question gradually waned and although there was a faint echo of Hesychasm in the West, it never has achieved a following among Catholics.

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