The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [57]

Here, parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56.


In the following we will debate a series of communional images from symeonian theology, which have scandalized on many, but which have not another role, than on that to touch, with the utmost rigor, the divine reality of our real communion with God.

We have, therefore, a realism of the image, of the human paradigm which illustrates the personalist realism of our union with God.

And we begin our descent theological in the personalistic symeonian imagology with the image of the divine breastfeeding.

In the ethical Discourse 4, into a context full christologic-pnevmatological, where the deified are presented as dressing in Christ, ie in light and  „they see themselves adorned with an unspeakable glory and with a divine garment bright”[1] and where the Master „makes Himself to them food and eternal drink and immortal”[2], in this context Symeon introduces the image of the divine breastfeeding about that I was talking, paraphrasing and changing in the same time the pauline image of the paternal breastfeeding from I Cor. 3, 1-2.

In concrete, Symeon says: and the Master „is seen by some, as a bright breast [fotoidis mazos] puts in the mouth of their mind [to tu noos afton stomati emvallomenos] and that gives to suck [tilazin] those, how many are babes [nipii] in Christ [I Cor. 3, 1-2] and are not in state to receive solid food [stereas trofis], whom He makes suddenly food and drink, and produces them a such sweetness, that they do not want or, rather, nor cannot  to wrest from Him. And to those weaned  [apogalactistisi] He behaves like a loving parent of children  guiding [pedagogon] and educating [pedion] them”[3].

Commuting such the center of weight from the spiritual Father [pauline paradigm] at the heavenly Father [symeonian paradigm], the text of face cannot provoke adverse reactions, as long as it expresses, very direct, the reality of divine sight.

The divine light, the initial ecstasy is for beginners as a breast, which nurtures and develops them towards the receiving of solid food, ie of the divine dogmas  understood ecstatic.

Symeon does not bring in prime-plan the image of divine breastfeeding for to fall into a sexual boarding coarser of the ecstasy, how accuse those who are ashamed, about whom we were talking at beginning, but he uses the pauline paradigm at the ecstatic and realistic level of the mystical feeding.

The difference between nipii and the ones apogalactistisi, ie between the suckers babes and those who finished with breastfeeding, confirms the difference of degree of holiness between those who start on the road of holiness, enlightened being by the sight of the Trinity’s glory and those who are guided through light, those the mystery of God.

The image of divine breastfeeding or of the sight of light as a breast bright expresses, as was seen, a distinction of the mystical experience extreme of important and not a motive of stumbling for the readers of Saint Symeon.

All in the ethical Discourse 4, Symeon builds, on base of the pauline place from Eph. 4, 13, the image of the perfect man, where he analyzes each part of the mystical body of this man, ie of his virtues. What scandalizes again in this description extreme of interesting and of divine is the reality of the hidden parts of man.

But precisely this reality of the hidden parts, identified with the sexual organs of man, represents the greatest virtues of the mystic.

We render the symeonian passage with the cause, as to see the full enunciation of our Father:

„The members and the parts that must covered [Meli che moria a engcalipteste hreon] are unceasing prayer of the mind, sweetness of the tears that comes from their shedding, gladness of heart and its unspeakable comfort”[4].

The general context of this imagological paradigm  suggests us very clearly, that is not the word about the internal parts of the human body, for that these are analyzed step by step, in phrases itself standing, as and these of face, but the sexual organs of the man, taken as a paradigm, for to contemplate the spiritually [pnevmaticos teorumena][5] his constitutive parts – this emphasizes Symeon – and not bodily and sensual.

If for kidneys and loin, understood mystically, Symeon cites Scripture in abundant mode [Ps. 25, 2; Eph. 6, 14; I Pet. 1, 13; Eph. 3, 6; I Cor. 9, 23][6], for the sexual organs, understood mystically, he does not bring any scriptural argument, but all the arguments which brings are itself virtues as such, that he designates right  secret experiences, mystical, of spiritual human.

[1] SC 129, The Ethical Discourses, IV, 264-265, p. 26 / Ică jr. 1, p. 226.

[2] Idem, The Ethical Discourses, IV, 270-271, p. 26 / Ibidem.

[3] Idem, The Ethical Discourses, IV, 271-279, p. 26-28 / Idem, p. 226-227.

[4] Idem, The Ethical Discourses, IV, 375-378, p. 34 / Idem, p. 229-230.

[5] Idem, The Ethical Discourses, IV, 370, p. 34 / Idem, p. 229.

[6] Acc. Idem, The Ethical Discourses, IV, 382-390, p. 36 / Idem, p. 320.

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