The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [24]

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.

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Symeon continues the theological explanation by the presentation of the three calificatives of the vision as being interdependent. Thus, he says, the ecstatic knowledge, this ecstatic gnw/sij that we are discussing, is not without o`ra,sewj, without the ecstatic sight[1].

The knowledge and the ecstatic sight occur simultaneously. What you see, you know and what you know is a result of the ecstatic sight.

But the sight (o[rasij) is not without aivsqh,sewj (sensation)[2]. What we see in ecstasy, we feel with the soul and the light floods us and the body.

If in the frame of the unspiritual experience, of the bodily experience (as calls it Saint Symeon), we can feel something, as the blind for example, without and we see that thing at proper/ literally[3], but in the spiritual, „mh. eivj qewri,an e;lqh o` nou/j tw/n u`pe.r e;nnoian, th/j mustikh/j evnergei,aj ouvk aivsqa,netai” (if the mind does not reach until the sight of those beyond the mind, it does not feel the spiritual work)[4].

The sensation of those spiritual is reserved for those who have seen the ecstatic light[5].

Symeon incites his followers to the real living of the resurrection of Christ, saying that many people believe in the Lord’s resurrection, but very few are those who have it in themselves and look it in pure face (ble,pontej kaqarw/j)[6].

Those who lived it in themselves are those who truly worship the Lord, as Holy and Lord of their[7] and they know the interior content of the song: „Resurrection of Christ seeing (qeasa,menoi), let’s worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the one, Who without sin…”[8].

Resurrection of the Lord from the grave, the historical, says Saint Symeon, that Scripture indicated it by the absence of the Lord’s body from the grave, it was not seen by anyone[9].

The witnesses of the resurrection are the witnesses of the sight of Christ risen, Which was shown in front of them, but not the witnesses of the divine event of the resurrection, of the moment when it occurred, as were present at Transfiguration of the Lord, on Tabor, the three Apostles.

But the wonder, that can occur in each of us, says our Father, is that now, in each of those who believe can occur the Christ’s resurrection, and not only once, but in every moment[10].

The resurrection of Christ, which we sing it and we believe it, we have experience of it then, when „Himself the Master Christ risens in us, shining (lamproforou/ntoj) and flashing (avpastra,ptontoj) with the incorruption sparkles and of His divinity[11].

The presence of the Ghost in us, stresses Symeon, gives us the grace to see the Lord Himself rising in our being[12] and risening and us once with Him.

The resurrection of Lord in our being is an evpifa,neian, a spiritual revelation of Christ in us, a spiritual revelation of Himself in our being, being seen with toi/j pneumatikoi/j o;mmasi(spiritual eyes), namely with the eyes required by Mt. 5, 8.

Christ, continues Symeon, comes in us together with the Ghost (dia. tou/ Pneu,matoj) and rises us from the dead (avnista/| h`ma/j evk nekrw/n) and makes us to see Him live (zw/nta) and whole (o[lon) in our being, giving us the grace to know Him in limpid mode (tranw/j), as the one Who raised together with us and He is glorified together with us, acc. Eph. 2, 6 and Rom. 8, 17[13].

This resurrection is of the true believers, says, towards the end of catechesis, our Father, and not of the half-believers  (h`mi,pistoi)[14]. They do not see anything and will not see anything of those spiritual[15].

The faith in that is not God, Who raises the man, is a dead faith[16], and both of them are dead and those who have such faith without the interior notification of the God’s presence[17].

The end of the symeonian catechesis is encouraging, hardener, for those who are eager to purify and sanctify their lives: „the faith in God ever makes living and, it being alive, makes alive those who approach it with good intention (proqe,sewj avgaqh/j) and receive on it, which, even before the work of the commandments, it took many from death to life and showed them the Christ-God”[18].

The faith that feels in it the movement of grace, the divine enlightenment and sees the light of God is the living faith and it makes us live, because it is our spiritual life.


Symeon, as how is observed, blends the theological reasoning with the concrete experience of ecstasy, for to talk about the orthodox faith mysteries.

These mysteries are not a dozen speculation, made ​​easy, but is a complex experience, a personal revelation of the eternal life, which is given to you by the divine Trinity, in your life full of longing for holiness.

Our Father shows that the dogmas of faith are not the mental abstractions or the landmarks of a christian philosophy that can be ideologised, but the divine realities that we can experience in our lives, in the frame of the deepest relation with the trinitarian-God, that we love Him.

[1] SC 104, The Catechesises, XIII, 72-73, p. 196 / Ică jr. 2, p. 174.

[2] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 73, p. 196 / Ibidem.

[3] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 75-77, p.196 / Ibidem.

[4] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 78-79, p. 196 / Ibidem.

[5] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 80-81, p. 196 / Ibidem.

[6] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 90-92, p. 196 / Ibidem.

[7] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 92-93, p. 196-198 / Ibidem.

[8] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 98-100, p. 198 / Idem, p. 175.

[9] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 104-105, p. 198 / Ibidem.

[10] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 106-108, p. 198 / Ibidem.

[11] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 109-111, p. 198 / Ibidem.

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev discussing the problem of the Christ’s sight in the symeonian theology said, in an article very erudite, that „Symeon never spoke about any appearance of Christ as a visible image, but only about the light and sometimes about the voice of Christ”, acc. Hilarion Alfeyev, The Patristic Background of St. Symeon the New Theologian’s Doctrine of the Divine Light, in rev. Studia Patristica, vol. XXXII, Edited by Elizabeth A. Livingstone, Ed. Peeters Publishers, Louvain, 1997, p. 235.

[12] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 113-114, p. 198-200 / Ibidem.

[13] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 119-124, p. 200 / Ibidem.

[14] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 125-127, p. 200 / Ibidem.

[15] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 127-128, p. 200 / Ibidem.

[16] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 138-139, p. 200-202 / Idem, p. 176.

[17] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 145-147, p. 202 / Ibidem.

[18] Idem, The Catechesises, XIII, 147-151, p. 202 / Ibidem.

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