The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [46]

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.

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The cleaning of passions is at Symeon an evidence sanctioned by God Himself, for that He looks like a sun that illuminates fully our being.

In symeonian theology, the sun is not a literary motive but an ecstatic evidence.

Symeon does not speak of religious symbols, he does not portray symbolic paintings, ie a continuous series of metaphors without substance divine, but he reveals the mode how is shown the divine light in his being.

Just therefore our exegesis at the opera of Symeon does not have and nor must to have ever a character pure literary but the one eminently theological, for that he talks about the real presence of light in his life.

The symeonian theology is, with precedence, the theology of confession, of ecstatic confession and must be perceived as such.

The slip from this coordinate of ecstatic confession, in boarding of his theology, is not destinated than to a cheap sensationalism or a literaturisation too little valid for the theological spectrum.

Only if it is perceived as a clear testimony, unliar of a holy life, full of divine revelations, the symeonian theology is, with true, a protreptic for our lives.

Symeon requires facts, e;rgwn from us, for that and God saves us if we show facts, if we are not idle[1].

But for he the good works are not a scope in itself, but „all ascesis and all facts that are done by us are that impart us by divine light like a rushlight[2].

The divine sun and human rushlight, although total contrasting into a theology that would follow the difference of degree between them, are not without an inner connection in symeonian theology.

The divine light, with all its frightening and unthinkable immensity for the faithful man, however does not crush the human rushlight, the human being, but fills it with grace.

Union between God and man through ecstasy, through the sight of the light, it’s a real union, conscious.

Faithful man understands what happens with him.

Just therefore Symeon stresses repeatedly that  „e[nwsij…gi,netai avmfote,rwn evn gnw,sei” (union of the two [of God with man] is fully into acquaintance/ consciousness)[3].

The ascesis required by Symeon is an interior awareness of spiritual changes that occur with us, the awareness that culminates with the sight of the light, in that we never lose the understanding of the fact, that what we see is something real and not a mental fantasy, that is not exceeding the world in which we are.

The sight of the light into consciousness [evn gnw,sei] means fot Symeon the acute reception, overwhelming of the divine realities that are facilitated to us in ecstatic mode.

Thus explains the fact why Symeon problematizes not what he sees, but he wonders continually by the amazing wealth of ecstasies that he had.

In the Hymn 34, 79, assimilating the avstraph. with an h[lioj me,gaj, Symeon says that the sight of the light, however we would show it, as flash or as a huge sun, does nothing else in us than interior enlightens us[4].

But here, in the Hymn 34, we have a formula that guarantees, in our opinion, the hesychast dimension of the symeonian experience.

He says that the light shines in us and it is understood noerw/j evn kardi,a|, with the mind in the heart[5].

If Simeon had not seen the sight of the light as a result of unceasing prayer, we have not had in his descriptions the placements of the ecstasy in the frame of assiduous peculiar prayers.

In the Hymn 35, our soul is the mirror [e;soptron] that receives the ray of the divine sun, ie the rays of Godhead  [avkti/naj th/j Qeo,thto,j][6].

But we are mirrors in that not only that is reflected the light, but it and impresses in us, for that we are living mirrors, spiritual.

In the Hymn 42, suitable to the proceeding of the terminological assimilation about which we talked, Symeon affirms: „And in union [with You], I see You as on a sun, and I see You as on a star, and I keep You in my bosom as on a pearl and I see You as on a rushlight located inside of a vessel”[7].

All forms under which is seen the light and is indicated scripturally represents for Symeon a divine reality that reveals ecstatic the believer.


But exist the sight as long as exist the union with Trinity’s light.

The light gushing into our being, rises in us, only on the fund of ardent search, of God’s unquenchable and an ascesis conscious by the work of the grace in our being[8], for to rise to the communion of life and love of Most Holy Trinity.

[1] SC 156, Hymns, XV, 33, p. 278 / Ică jr. 3, p. 90.

[2] SC 174, Hymns, XXXIII, 130-132, p. 422 / Idem, p. 202.

[3] Idem, Hymns, XXXIV, 20, p. 428 / Idem, p. 203.

[4] Idem, Hymns, XXXIV, 78-80, p. 434/ Idem, p. 205.

[5] Idem, Hymns, XXXIV, 78, p. 434/ Ibidem. This formula and the whole boarding of the sight of God at Saint Symeon, makes us convinced at the fact that Symeon was a hesychast and that the hesychast prayer method, kept in traditional mode on his name, it belongs and not is no an exaggeration of Tradition’s reception.

[6] SC 174, Hymns, XXXV, 55-59, p. 444/ Idem, p. 208.

[7] SC 196, Hymns, XLII, 85-87, p. 44/ Idem, p. 230.

[8] Into an article by youth, Father Professor Dumitru Popescu said about the relation between the good works and salvation at Saint Symeon: „the facts do not operate the believer’s salvation from outside, automatic and mechanical, but rather they have a soteriological and ontological sense”, acc. Mast. D.[umitru] Popescu, The Good Works after Saint Symeon the New Theologian, in rev. Orthodoxy XIV (1962), no. 4, p. 542-543.

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