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.

The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [61]

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.


Everything that we undertake for our salvation is not guaranteed than by the divine light, which, then when it comes in us, entrustes us by the truth of love and of our zeal for the holy life.

In the image of the girded oven, of the soul full by the fire of Godhead, Symeon shows the cleaning and the our filling by light, as union with the light and as brightness of us through it: „As the girded oven [eccheomenos clivanos]…after to gird strong, it makes wiht all transparent and like the fire…so and the soul…after what…were consumed [all bad ones from it, from the cause of light,]…remains only the being of the soul without passions [i tis psihis usia moni horis patus]…,[moment in that] the divine fire and inmmaterial unites with it in beingly [usiodos] face and anon this lights and shines and imparts [of light].

[For]…he imparts by the divine light and unspeakable [tiu che arritu fotos], and he makes fire through impartation [metexin]”[1].

The image of union of the divine fire with our being is a personalization of all what means ardent dynamism in Scripture.

Saint Symeon uses from full the image of the light and of the fire, as and that of the divine enthusiasm, of unspeakable joy for to emphasize the paradigm of the divine sight.

If in the last image presented by us, the fire of the light ignited the heart and melted any impurity of heart, in the image of the bride who unites with her Bridegroom, the principal print that is fixed us in soul, that is transmitted us to understanding, is the cleanness of heart.

In the ethical Discourse 15, the bride [nimfi], our clean soul, our whole being full of cleanness, „unites to sleep [ti enosi singchitazomenos] with the Bridegroom Christ and rises together with Him [sinanistamenos] towards eternal life or, instead, [she remains] in Him always and she bears on Him, Who [remained] in her”[2].

The conjugal union between bride and Bridegroom is real and it is one from the traditional mystical expressions of union with light.

Symeon does not use only on enosis in equation, but he precises, as and Paul in Ephes. 5, 23-32, that this union is one that is making in coitos, in the conjugal bed, ie in the largest profoundness of our being.

In the Hymn 15 appears the same image of the bride, of the soul-bride of Christ, where „the all souls become brides with which unites [enute] The Creator, and they [unite] the same with Him, and has place the ghostual wedding [o gamos pnevmaticos], This mingling  [simmignimenos] with them into a proper mode to God”[3].

Symeon, as and Paul, does not render a libidinous image, lascivious of our relation with God, as a sublimation of sexuality and as a hypostasiation of it in the sphere of our mystical reports with God, but he uses the realism and the dynamics of sexual union as paradigm of union with God, which leaves in us real traces, concrete, deep.

The image of the conjugal union is deep scriptural and patristic, Symeon doing nothing, than to give a personalization very suggestive, clear, striking in the good sense of the word, for the one who meets it in his writings.

Saint Symeon has the astounding quality of  to be conqueror in his writings, precisely in that he uses quotidian images, extreme of known, banal, which raises them, suddenly, at the deep value of the mystical experience and, through that, he explains the deepest mysteries of deification.

The conjugal union or the drunkenness – as we will show immediately – realities very concrete and, at the first sight, having nothing to do with the ecstasy, they become at Symeon approachs to the mystery of holiness, of the divine union between God and the believer man for eternity.

On Symeon interests no the conformity of the example, of the paradigm with the mystical union, ecstatic, but the one between the senses of paradigm, which he emphasizes it in evident mode.

[1] SC 129, The Ethical Discourses, VII, 521-537, p. 192-194 / Ică jr. 1, p. 296.

[2] Idem, The Ethical Discourses, XV, 34-37, p. 446 / Idem, p. 401.

[3] SC 156, Hymns, XV, 221-223, p. 294 / Ică jr. 3, p. 96.