The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [62]

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, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61.


In the Catechesis 23[1], where he conforms the joy of seeing the light with the drunkenness which provokes us the wine, Symeon is not attentive than at two aspects: that of the euphoria which provokes the mystical sight and of its realism in our entire being.

The euphoria of the sight of divine light aligned of the euphoria of the wine is characterized through the strong attraction to it [r. 161], through the delectation which he feels when he sees the light [r. 164], through the insatiableness with that he wants it [r. 165-167], through the longing of it [r. 167-170].

But the realism of euphoria and of the presence of light in entire being of its seer is described by Symeon in terms very direct: „the scintillation of the [divine] wine [stilva tu inu] and the radius of [heavenly] sun  [actis tu iliu] that scintillates shining on the face of which he drinks it perambulate until in his bowels/ intestines, until in the hands and his feet and until in his back, making him in entirety fire [pir olon] on the one who drinks it and in state to burn and to melt on enemies who approach by him from all parts”[2].

The sight of the light, of the divine wine, presents as a filling of us the mystical drunkenness is at Symeon a transformation of us in men full of enthusiasm, of ghostual vitality and bodily, that feel in us the light as fire, that strengthens us in the battles with the demons and makes us frightening for them.

The divin enthusiasm about which Symeon speaks is not a human state, of human inflammation, but is the shedding of the heavenly wine, of the heavenly fire in us, ie a divine-human state.

In the final phrase of the passage which we discuss the divine drink, the divine wine does not produce the alteration of us but the curing of us[3]. The health [ighian] and the charm of beauty which gives birth to the ghostual health are at Symeon without ko,ron, without satiety[4].

And for that I began this section under the sign of the divine paternity, with strong maternal accents at ecstatic level, speaking of the divine breastfeeding, we conclude our exposure about  the symeonian imagology of the union with light all with a maternal confession, in that Symeon  presents himself as feeding on himself from the milk of light:

 „And remembering us of the joy and of that light and of its sweet pleasure, we cried and complained us as a suckling baby who sees his mother and, remembering the sweetness of milk, he bursts in tears, searching again [the bosom] that, as to suck on saturated”[5].

Thus, the joy of light produces continuous reminders of it and provokes us continually at wishes of it and more intense, and more clear and more vivid in our being.

The sight of the light is not a secondary search in the life and in the theology of Saint Symeon, but represents itself the finding, the refinding of our soul[6].

To refound us the soul says Symeon here means „to see God, to reach in His light taller than all the creature seen, and to have Shepherd and Teacher on God”[7].

From this cause, His sight what and the images with the help which represents the union with Him, through that he ignites and more the longing for Him, do not represent illegitimate images in his theology but percussive anthropomorphic expressions of some ecstatic experiences that exceed any description.

By every time Symeon has attracted the attention that his images, whatsoever would be they, must not taken ad litteram, but they must contemplate ghostually.

Just therefore we cannot be of accord with they that scandalize by his mystical images, as long as they do not ask interpreted literally but after their mystical meaning, which reveals us the profound realities of our communion with the Most Holy Trinity.

[1] SC 113, The Catechesises, XXIII, 158-201, p. 24-28 / Ică jr. 2, p. 254-255.

[2] Idem, The Catechesises, XXIII, 185-191, p. 26 / Idem, p. 255.

[3] Idem, The Catechesises, XXIII, 198-201, p. 28 / Ibidem.

[4] Idem, The Catechesises, XXIII, 200-201, p. 28 / Ibidem.

[5] SC 196, Hymns, XLIX, 87-91, p. 152-154 / Ică jr. 3, p. 258.

[6] Epistles, I, apud. Ică jr. 3, p. 317.

[7] Ibidem.

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