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The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [25]

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.

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2. 3. 3. Ascension of Christ in the Personal Experience

A very realistic and plastic expression in the same time of the experience of the Christ’s ascension in our being, we find in the Ethical Discours 4.

Here, Saint Symeon speaks about his relation with God, more precisely about his ecstatic relation with God, as about the fact to be to. th/j do,xhj evkkre,masqai tou/ Qeou/ (hanged/ pendent of the God’s glory)[1].

He that is hanged by the divine light is, in the same time, and who wants God always (tau,thn avena,wj evpizhtei/n)[2].

To be with the God that you see Him means to desire Him always, seeking to see Him always. The finding of God does not mean nothing but the continual increasing of the desire to want more Him, to be with Him.

The communion with God, in the frame of a life in which is present the divine light, is an escalation of any term of comparison.

In the Ethical Discours 3, the ascension is presented as rapture (a`rpagh/n)[3].

Commenting II Cor. 12, 2, Symeon says that Paul speaking about „rapture, showed first of [all] the [ecstatic] sight (th/j a`rpagh/j th.n qewri,an prw/ton evdh,lwse)”[4].

The divine sight is a rapture, a total stealing of the mind by what shows you the Holy Ghost.

The ecstasy is presented here not as a dislocation of the mind from the human being, but as a total perplexedness of the human mind. The mind is stolen, is captured, is caught entirely in the contemplation of light.

There’s nothing more important than the sight of God’s glory means, in definitively, the rapture of mind by what God reveals us.

But the texts in which Symeon speaks explicitly about our ascension together with Christ in the frame of the ecstasy, we found, for example, in the Hymn 15 and Catechesis 36.

In the Hymn 15, 97-108, Symeon speaks about the descent of Christ to us, a real descent, for to lift us, together with Him, at the Father:

„But since You, as said, You are out of all that exists, and those that enlighten them, make them to be outside (e;xwqen) from those seen, and as how You, as the One who are above, together with Your Father, You are inseparable from us, as the One who are integer together with us, and, although You are in the world, though You are incomprehensible to the world – because You being in all things there, You are as the One above all – whole thus, to us, Thy servants, we are in the midst of those felt and seen, take us out (evxa,geij) from all things there and take us up on the entirely, together with You, enlightened byYour light, and You make us be immortals from mortals. For to remain what we are [You make us] Your sons by grace, alike You [I Jn. 3, 2], gods who see God”[5].

Is observed how Symeon speaks about the sight of the Christ’s glory as about an ascension with Him to heavens.

We can not, with other words, tells us Symeon, lift us to the sight of the Christ’s glory than together with Him, Who comes to us, but Who is beyond all that exists and rises us, with Him, at His sight.

In Catechesis 36, speaking about the act of our ascension with Christ, Symeon denominates it right „shattering/ tremendous mystery” (frikto.n musth,rion) [6].

This mystery consists in the fact that: „taking me (labo,menoj) and ascending You (avnelqw,n) to heaven, You take me together (sunanh,gagej) with You, whether in the body, I do not know, whether outside the body, You alone know, Who did that”[7].

Is observed how Symeon combines the historic plan of the Christ’s oeconomy with the world with the personal plan of the Christ’s oeconomy in the salvation of everyone of us.

He speaks, also, about the Ascension of the Lord with the body into heaven but and the ascension of the Lord, together with Him, into heaven, as an entry in ecstasy.

If You taking me and You ascending to heaven is an expression of assumption and of ascension of the human nature by Christ on the throne of the Trinity, the next part of the phrase quoted, indicates the fact that the ecstatic sight is a together ascension with Christ or the living of the Christ’s ascension by our person.

Symeon, like as Paul, do not know how is going the ecstasy, how does take place in his being. But he is sure that Christ is the One who knows how to get to the sight of the light, for that together with Him we ascended at the sight of the Trinity’s  light.

Simeon lives the inexpressible astonishment of the divine glory, that „unmeasure height”(tw/| avmetrh,tw| u[yei)[8], which made ​​him tremble in his whole being and to mourn his own wickedness[9].

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Our ascension with Christ is thus true and not purely rhetorical. The sight of the light is a sight of the Christ’s glory and, in the same time, an ascension with Christ to the unmeasured glory of the Trinity.

Any human endeavour, that wants to reach the divine light is a failure, says Simon, as long as Christ Himself is not born, is not suffering, does not die and does not rise in us, and, not in the last line, if does not ascend in us and not lift us in the glory of the Trinity.


[1] SC 129, The Ethical Discourses, IV, 76-77, p. 14 / Ică jr. 1, p. 221.

[2] Idem, The Ethical Discourses, IV, p. 77, p. 14 / Ibidem.

[3] To see the verb a`rpa,zw and in Acts 8, 39, I Thess. 4, 17, Rev. 12, 5, where rapture has the evident meaning of ascension, taking, lifting by the Ghost.

[4] SC 122, The Ethical Discourses, III, 247-248, p. 408 / Ică jr. 1, p. 204.

[5] SC 156, Hymns, XV, 97-108, p. 284-286 / Ică jr. 3, p. 92-93.

[6] SC 113, The Catechesises, XXXVI, 167, p. 344 / Ică jr. 2, p. 374.

[7] Idem, The Catechesises, XXXVI, 167-170, p. 344 / Ibidem.

[8] Idem, The Catechesises, XXXVI, 172, p. 344 / Ibidem.

[9] Idem, The Catechesises, XXXVI, 172-175, p. 344 / Ibidem.

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1 Comment

  1. Otilia Kloos

    „The ecstasy is presented here not as a dislocation of the mind from the human being, but as a total perplexedness of the human mind. The mind is stolen, is captured, is caught entirely in the contemplation of light.”

    The experience of both saints happens here, within the human nature, by the grace of God.

    What a dramatic change of the mind, what a dramatic life!

    Surely, smth that doesn’t happen only in the Old Testament, like David Berlinski says in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyxUwaq00Rc&feature=player_embedded#!

    But smth that happened because of the Incarnation.

    Slava iconomiei Tale!

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