The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [4]

The first, the second and the third part

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1. 3. The Uncreated Divine Energies and Their Presence in the Synergistic Acts of the Deification and of the Sight of God

The third premise of the deification of man and the sight of God has its inner connection with the two previously discussed. Only if our Creator is the divine Logos, and if our body and the cosmos are rational and transparent mediums we can speak about the deification of man and the sight of God.

Scripture speaks about God as about the living God [Qeou/ zw/ntoj][1], namely about God, Who irradiates us with His glory.

Is arhipresent in Scripture the indication of the existence of God’s glory and God’s uncreated energy[2]. The living God manifests His eternal glory in the life of faithful people to rise us to communion with Himself.

Speaking about of our relation with risen Christ and ascended to the Father, Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae writes:

„The light of the Trinity, which is proper to the Son of God, will show and through the body that He will take, through words and deeds of His loving, but will show wholly in His body after the resurrection. And from His body will spread in those who believed in Him and make facts, like Him, in the earthly life, but fully in their body after their resurrection [from the dead].

If the body can be a medium, through that spread the wise words and good deeds are done, it’s natural that can be a seen environment of the spiritual light and to irradiate the light of it and in the universe which is connected, although the revelation of spiritual light through matter is a great mystery[3].

It is possible our irradiation by the glory of God for that the matter is open for the uncreated and eternal energies of God and through the sight of God’s glory we see those around of God and not being of God.

Therefore, Father Professor Dumitru Popescu speaks about the distinction between being and God’s works, wroting the following:

„The eastern theology considers…that God can be known by His works, but not in His being, so the uncreated energies, as expressions of God’s work, come to protect the mystery that is surrounding God’s being, ie base of the trinitarian apofatism.

Likewise, the eastern theology considers that the process of the perfection of believers in Christ and the Church is not realized by constraining external means…but through the transfiguration of the whole human nature from inside, through the energy of the Holy Ghost, so the uncreated energies come to base the man deification in Christ”[4].

But the sight of the divine light or the uncreated energy does not mean closing in itself of the man to contemplate His glory but an opening of us to the overwhelming greatness of God’s life.

For that „the uncreated energies remain, in the same time, both exterior and interior the human nature. It remains the exterior, because it springs from God’s being, and the interior, because they are meant to deify human nature. The uncreated energy [but] does not remain just the exterior of human nature, because it is not an entity added from the external of the human nature, but the divine power that is entering in the human nature to transform it in Christ”[5].

Polemizing with the false doctrine of the created grace, Father Professor Dumitru Popescu showed here that the grace is not parallel with the man or does not embrace the man in the exterior mode, but inside divinizes it, because the man who is  depassioneting himself is an transparent medium of the glory of God.

Therefore, in the process of the our deification „human nature remains the threads created, [but] it acquires through the uncreated energies of some supernatural qualities that make the process of deification of the human nature not to remain only a pious metaphor, but a true reality[6].

The presence of the uncreated energies of God in our lives, received in the Sacraments, in the ascetic life and in the personal sight of God, we realize the endless advance in the near to God, in deification, which is a divine-human reality which is acquired in the Church.

If we deny the foundation of our relation with God, namely the divine grace, we have only a hypothetical connection with God. The real connection with God is the personal relation with God through His glory of that we share into a fervent ascetic life.

Saint Gregory Palamas speaks of the distinction between the divine being and His energies and about our communion on the eternal energies of God in the context of the Transfiguration of the Lord, saying: „whole the Church of God declared that the grace seen by the Apostles [in] unspeakable [mode] in Tabor is uncreated, as the divine and ineffable light and the brilliance of the divine nature, but not nature, for it is above all manifestation and communion”[7].

We do not have communion with the being of God in the ecstatic mode but the glory of God, for „the soul sees God in the light, in the body, by the intermedium of the body”[8].

Talking about what is happening in ecstasy with us, Saint Gregory Palamas writes the following words:

„When the Pious men see in themselves that the light divine – and they see when there are worthy of the deifying communion of the Holy Ghost, when they are examined in the unspeakable mode by the perfecting rays – then they see their own garment deification, their minds are filled with glory and the unsaid beautiful brightness which springs from the grace of the Word, so as the body of the Word was filled with divine glory on the mountain by the divine light that flowed from His deity.

For the glory which His Father gave Him, and He gave it to those who obey Him, how says the word of the Gospel; and He wanted to be them with Him and they see His glory [Jn. 17, 22, 24]”[9].

Saint Gregory speaks about of the filling of the glory of God of those that purify the passions and, in the same time, of the fact that the glory of the Son is identical with the glory of the Father and the Holy Ghost. But he states that Christ gives His glory to those who obey Him, filling us with His divine life and lifting us to the union with Himself through the Ghost, and through Himself, with the Father.

Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae tells us about the divine grace as the divine power that comes in us from the transfigured humanity of Christ, saying:

„Speaking about the grace we must emphasize both the quality of the inexhaustible power that comes to us from the infinite deity dwelt in Christ’s humanity, and the perspective of light what opens us in the infinity communion with the person of Christ or the Holy Trinity, Who have been open in Christ, in love.

The grace is the open window to the infinity of God as a person, or as [and] the trinitarian communion of persons, once God has put us, by grace, in relation with Him”[10].

Our author points out, that the relation with God is by His grace, through His uncreated energies and in relation with Him we partake of the infinity communion with Christ or with Most Holy Trinity.

Also Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae, in the discussion about the personal redemption, speaks to us about the creating of a unique connection, deeply personal between us and Christ through the sight of His divine glory:

„The glory of Christ communicated to us, those who are in relation with Him, believing Him, is endless and it does not frighten us, but it manifests a great intimacy for us. Those who look to Christ and continue in communion with Him, become ever more just, more embedded to the glory of Christ, the Christ Himself as a model: <But we all with open face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Ghost of the Lord> [II Cor. 3, 18]”[11].

On the one hand, emphasizes the sight of the glory of God in our relation with Him and, on the other hand, there is a continuous imprinting of our by the glory of God following our frequent ecstatic views.

In  measure what we grow in the deification, we are embedded of the glory of Christ and we become more proper for our relation with Him.

But our relation with God, through His glory, is not only a vertical relation but, in the same time, is the horizontal one.

Therefore, Father Professor Dumitru Popescu warns about the danger of oversizing the vertical or the horizontal of our relation with God:

„It would be absurd to believe that the uncreated energies establish only a link between God and believers, without establishing and the interpersonal relation between believers.

The uncreated energies are not the entities separated as such as separated from God or the work of the Ghost [is not] included individualistic in every human being, but higher spiritual power that embraces in Christ the community of believers in the dynamic and perihoretic mode. The uncreated energies are the dynamic interpersonal bridges[12].

This emphasizes the active role of the presence of the uncreated energies of God in the personal salvation but also in the interpersonal relations between members of the Church of Christ.

For us to be of God we must be into His grace and see His glory, on the one hand, but, on the other hand, we manifest as the people of communion and brotherhood in the Church and in the world.

In conclusion, the all three premises of human deification and of the sight of God discussed by us, namely: the person of the creator and savior Logos, the rational and spiritual foundation of the world and the presence of the uncreated energies in our lives must be seen as interpenetrating each other and being the starting point for understanding the experience and theology of Saint Simeon the New Theologian.

For that, only when we see the man and the cosmos as the works and the direct prints of the divine Logos and the world, in its totality, as rational and transparent for the uncreated energies of God, we understand that the deification by grace is the scope of the orthodox life and the sight of God is received in act of the light of God in our lives.

[1] See Deut. 4, 33; 5, 26; I Kings 17, 36; Hos. 2, 1; III Maccab. 6, 28, acc. LXX and Acts 14, 15, acc. GNT.

[2] The sintagma the glory of the Lord appears at Exod. 16, 7; Numb. 12, 8; Ps. 17, 31; Habak. 2, 14; Is. 26, 10; 35, 2 etc., acc. LXX, but about the divine light it speaks in many modes.

In fact, any revelation of the Scripture is the ecstatic and is a revelation, in light of God, of what God transmits to us.

In GNT we find the references to the glory of God in Mt. 16, 27; 25, 31; Mk. 8, 38; 10, 37; Lk. 9, 26; Rom. 1, 23; 4, 20; I Pet. 5, 10; Rev. 11, 13 etc.

[3] Dumitru Stăniloae, Jesus Christ: light of the world and the deificator of human [Iisus Hristos: lumina lumii şi îndumnezeitorul omului], op. cit., p. 201-202.

[4] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Popescu, Christ, Church, Society [Hristos, Biserică, Societate], op. cit., p. 101.

[5] Idem, p. 105.

[6] Ibidem.

[7] Rev. Prof. Acad. D.Th. Dumitru  Stăniloae, Life and Teaching of Saint Gregory Palamas, with four treates translated [Viaţa şi învăţătura Sfântului Grigorie Palama, cu patru tratate traduse], second edition, with a preface reviewed by the author, Ed. Scripta, Bucharest, 1993, p. 265.

[8] Idem, p. 203.

[9] Idem, p. 178.

[10] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Stăniloae, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology [Teologia Dogmatică Ortodoxă], vol. 2, ed. a II-a, ed. cit., p. 200.

[11] Idem, p. 225.

[12] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Popescu, Christ, Church, Society [Hristos, Biserică, Societate], op. cit., p. 107.

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