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2. The Sight of God to Saint Symeon the New Theologian and its Implications in Personal Salvation

The Ecstatic Terminology

2. 1. The Symeonian Ecstatic Terminology

The first stake of our research is to remove the extreme conjectures, that peripatetised in poisonously mode among the contemporary theologians, made ​​on behalf of the person and the works of Saint Symeon the New Theologian.

And one of them is that Saint Symeon would not fully enroll among the Fathers of the Orthodox Church[1].

Besides this, two other statements are totally unfounded to say, that he would be a precursor of the protestantism and a mystic with strong accents of singularization.

To answer the first serious allegations against him, that he would not fully enroll in The Tradition of the Fathers of the Church, we must examine his theological issues and the mode in that he exposes his faith and his mystical experience.

Therefore we will begin the discussion of the theological works of Saint Symeon with an analysis of the ecstatic semantic of our Father, for to see which are the words he uses to express his ecstasies and as it stands, from this perspective, in the ecstatic patristic theology area.

Symeon exploits the meanings of o`ra,w, the verb that expressed the sight is very often with the mystical connotations[2].

In Chapters I, 1 those who see bodily (swmatikw/j o`rw/sin)[3] are put in opposition to those who understand spiritually (pneumatikw/j noou/si)[4].

This opposition is the paradigm in which he discusses always the difference between sight and unsight.

Understanding God’s presence or the personal knowledge of Him of Saint Symeon is speaking is for himself identical with the sight of the divine light (tou/ qei,ou fwto.j)[5].

Therefore, Christ is He who that enlightens (fwti,zei) the man[6], because the pure heart sees the light (fw/j) of Trinity[7].

For that to understand in the authentic mode the exposing of the symeonian theology we must remember that o`ra,w has as content on fw/j.

And when Symeon speaks about the sight refers to the sight of the light of Most Holy Trinity and not to any light.

The sight of the light, he expresses when as an impartation of it, using the verb mete,cw and its derivatives[8], when as an union (sun + o`ra,w/ suna,feia/ e[nwsij[9]) with the light [10] or with God[11].

In Hymns 42, 202 appears and the substantive koinwni,a (union/ communion)[12], expressing the union in sensation, conscious, with the divine glory and in 46, 32 we find another of its corollary, namely sunousi,a (union/ communion/ connection)[13].

The verb avnable,pw, with the sense to see before the divine light, before eschatology, scored one of the principal coordinates of the symeonian theology[14].

For Symeon, the sight must occur, begin in this life[15].


[1] If Jean Darrouzès (who is not too sympathetic with Saint Symeon), in the introduction at SC [Sources Chrétiennes] 51, p. 30, said that Saint Symeon did not tried to be an innovator in the domain of the theological language, and that he was a theoretician of the spiritual life doubled of a mystic one, which is based on personal experience, but and the fact that „we recognize [in him] a employed traditional faith and the current notions of the oriental spirituality” (Acc. Idem, p. 32), however there is a baleful current opinion among the orthodox theologians and, alike, the heterodox, to discredit Saint Symeon the New Theologian, who is seen as out of the patterns of the Orthodoxy, by writings and by his very personal approach to spiritual life.

Father Ică jr. sketches in the introductory article at Ică jr. 1, entitled Saint Symeon the New Theologian and the Mystical Challenge in the Byzantine and the Contemporary Theology the dispute Teoclit vs. Trembelas (Ică jr. I, p. 28), which for us is an explicit paradigm of the reasons for the unfavorable reception of Saint Symeon.

And any names I want to enumerate here, as opponents to the symeonian theology, all of them would have something in common: the inability or the unwillingness to fully receive Saint Symeon in their lives, because they not fully receive the exigences of redemption.

His exigences are the exigences of holiness.

And those who are struggling with Symeon are fighting with what he is or with what he can not and does not want to do. St. Symeon is not the source of the frustrations of these opponents, but he is who gives voice to the painful truth of their remoteness from the path of salvation.

Because Saint Symeon, although „a bunch of the paradoxes” for the contemporaries and the followers was credited by the Church as „an authoritative expression of the faith”, acc. Rev. Lect. Univ. PhD. Călin-Ioan Dușe, The Integration of Saint Symeon the New Theologian in the Eastern Spirituality, in rev. The Theological Horizons [Orizonturi teologice], Oradea, 2001, p. 140, 145.

[2] See SC 51, Chapters, I, 1, p. 40; I, 51, p. 54; I, 52, p. 54; I, 101, p. 70; II, 8, p. 73; II, 19, p. 76; III, 21, p. 86; SC 156, Hymns, II, 18, p. 178; II, 104, p. 184; IV, 89, p. 196; VII, 2, p. 208; XIII, 72, p. 262; XV, 51, p. 280; XV, 54, p. 280; XV, 91, p. 284; SC 174, Hymns, XVII, 346, p. 38; XVII, 374, p. 40; XVII, 527, p. 50; XVIII, 8, p. 74; XVIII, 109, p. 84; XVIII, 119, p. 84; XIX, 21, p. 96; XIX, 29, p. 96; XIX, 140, p. 106; XX, 223, p. 126; XXI, 105, p. 138; XXI, 151, 162, 170, p. 142; XXI, 495, p. 168; XXII, 5, 8, p. 170; XXII,  157, 165, p. 182; XXII, 173, p. 184; XXIII, 232, p. 204; XXIII, 483, p. 220; XXIV, 248, p. 244; XXIV, 367, p. 252; XXV, 43, p. 258; XXVII, 104, p. 286; XXVIII, 60, p. 298; XXVIII, 179, p. 308; XXVIII, 196, p. 310; XXIX, 8, p. 314; XXIX, 67, p. 318; XXIX, 92, p. 320; XXIX, 108, 116, 128, p. 322; XXIX, 214, p. 328; XXX, 196, p. 354; XXX, 391, p. 366; XXX, 415, p. 368; XXX, 524, p. 376; XXXI, 4, p. 384; XXXIV, 17, p. 428; XXXV, 76, p. 446; XL, 1, p. 484; SC 196, Hymns, XLII, 77, 78, p. 42; XLII, 85, p. 44; LI, 2, p. 184; LIII, 10, p. 212.

[3] SC 51, Chapters, I, 1, p. 40 / Ică jr. 3, p. 365.

[4] Ibidem / Ibidem.

[5] Idem, Chapters, II, 13, p. 74 / Idem, p. 393.

[6] About enlightenment as result of the sight of the light, see in SC 51, Chapters, I, 2, p. 40; I, 4, p. 41; I,  34, p. 49; II, 15, p. 75; II, 16, p. 75; III, 42, p. 92; III, 84, p. 107; SC 156, Hymns, I, 144, 146, p. 168; I, 211, p. 174; XV, 98, p. 284; XV, 105, p. 284; XV, 187, p. 292; SC 174, Hymns, XVII, 66, p. 18; XVII, 237, p. 30; XVII, 338, p. 36; XVIII, 97, p. 82; XXI, 12, p. 132; XXI, 104, p. 138; XXI, 145, p. 140; XXI, 147, 156, 164, 168, p. 142; XXIII, 223, p. 202; XXIII, 262, p. 206; XXIV, 243, p. 244; XXIV, 368, p. 252; XXV, 11, p. 254; XXV, 43, p. 258; XXVI, 100, p. 276; XXVIII, 176, p. 308; XXVIII, 197, p. 310; XXIX, 13, p. 314; XXIX, 201-202 (enlightened by the divine Ghost), 209**, 214, p. 328; XXX, 161, p. 352; XXX, 578, p. 380; XXXI, 101**, p. 392; XXXII, 14 (divine enlightenments), 18, p. 402; XXXIII, 64, p. 418; XXXIII, 142, p. 424; XXXIV, 70, p. 432; XXXIV, 80, 81, p. 434; XXXIV, 106, p. 436; XL, 1, p. 484; SC 196, Hymns, XLII, 201, p. 52; XLIV, 155, p. 82; XLVIII, 139, 152, p. 142; XLIX, 10, p. 146 (spiritual enlightenment: fwtismou/ pneumatikou/); L, 158, p. 168; L, 244, p. 174; LI, 8, p. 184; LIII, 7, p. 212; LV, 6, p. 252; LV, 192, p. 268.

[7] Idem, I, 2, p. 40 / Ibidem.

In Idem, Chapters, III, 26, p. 88, Symeon speaks about the cleansing of the eye of the soul. In Idem, III, 29, p. 88, shows that the pure heart is working all the virtues and lead them to perfection.

About the pure heart or about the cleansing mind’s eyes to see and SC 51, Chapters, III, 32, p. 89; III, 35, p. 90; SC 156, Hymns, XI, 46, p. 234 (mind’s eye: to.n o`fqalmo.n tou/ noo.j); XV, 53, p. 280 (o[mmasi noeroi/j); SC 174, Hymns, XVII, 525, p. 50 (pure in heart); XXII, 107, p. 178 (mind’s eye); XXII, 108, p. 178 (soul’s eyes); XXIII, 429, p. 216 (in ecstasy we see only Trinity);  XXVII, 134, p. 288; XXXII, 15, p. 402 (mind’s eyes); XXXII, 82, p. 406 (heart’s eyes); XXXIII, 62, p. 416 (Ibidem); XXXIII, 63, p. 418    (Ibidem); XXXIV, 78, p. 434 (Ibidem).

[8] See SC 51, Chapters, I, 2, 3, p. 40; II, 13, p. 74; II, 16, p. 75; III, 4, p. 81; SC 156, Hymns, VIII, 84, p. 220; SC 174, Hymns, XVI, 31, p. 12; XVIII, 120, p. 84; XXIX, 362, p. 338; XXX, 266, p. 358; SC 196, Hymns, L, 149, 158, p. 168.

In the Hymn 50, Saint Symeon uses the substantive metousi,a (participation/ communion) for to indicate the union with light. See the places from SC 196, Hymns, L, 58, p. 160 şi Idem, L, 201, p. 170.

[9] SC 174, Hymns, XXIX, 283, 285, p. 334; XXX, 157, 158, p. 350; XXX, 460, p. 372; XXXI, 119, p. 394; XXXIII, 128, 422 (ineffable union: avporrh,tw| evvnw,sei); XXXIV, 16, p. 428 (union made in knowledge and sensation); XXXIV, 27, p. 428 (ineffable union); XXXIV, 60, p. 432; SC 196, Hymns, XLII, 204, p. 52; XLII, 225, p. 54 (ineffable union);  XLVI, 33, 116; L, 28, p. 158; LI, 58, p. 188 (mysterious union); LI, 142, p. 196.

[10] See SC 51, Chapters I, 3, p. 40; III, 60, p. 98; SC 156, Hymns, I, 107, p. 164.

[11] SC 51, Chapters, I, 101, p. 70; III, 21, p. 86 (God reveals Himself to men in the measure of the intimate union with them); III, 58, p. 97 (the ecstasy is union with God); III, 78, p. 104; SC 156, Hymns, VI, 13, p. 204.

[12] SC 196, Hymns, XLII, 202, p. 52; L, 200, p. 170.

[13] Idem, Hymns, XLVI, 32, 116.

Father Ică jr. translates in this context from 46, 32, on sunousi,a with togetherness [împreunare in romanian] acc. Ică jr. 3, 248, for to show that the union with light is entire, beingly, total. See also its use in SC 196, Hymns, XLIX, 26, p. 148.

[14] See SC 51, Chapters, I, 4, p. 41.

[15] See SC 156, Hymns, I, 84-87, p. 164.

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