The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [100]

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, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99.


Wondering, if not perchance the radical apophatism of the Fathers refers only at a theology of ecstasy[1], Professor Lossky reaches, again, at a conclusion outside of mystical experience, speaking about apophatism as about „a disposition of mind, who refuses to form concepts about God”[2].

Is observed that Vladimir Lossky wanted to remove the theology from the sphere of a rationalist understanding and fractional of academic approach, however not on the base of personal experience eminently mystical, but, more, through the intermedium of the theological concepts pretaken orthodox.

But the concepts about God is shattered through the ecstatic experience, for that the mind which has not seen the light does not know that thinks absolute hilarious, fanciful about God.

The killing of the idols of the mind is made through the sight of divine light. But our author gives priority of negative theology in the detriment of sight, for that, he says: „the negative theology is not just a theory [theorizing] of ecstasy itself, but is  the expression of that fundamental attitude, which makes from theology, in general, a contemplation of the mysteries of Revelation”[3].

Remaining in large part the prisoner of the occidental approach of mystical experience, in which the negative theology does not mean sight but an utopian corrective of imagination, Professor Vladimir Lossky gives us the impression that replaces, sometimes, the ghostual experience in the theological approach with the rationalist approach, sentimental at the life and the dogmas of the Church.

We understand, however, fairly trenchant from his pleading, that our author wishes to see in apophatism an expression of ghostual knowledge and that „the apophatic principle of theology”[4] is for this a limitation of the rationalization of God, of the impetus of to replaceon God through the idols about God[5].

The 2nd chapter from book ends with the glorious affirmation and correct of the fact that our God is the Holy Trinity and not „the impersonal God of the philosophers”[6].

The triadology on which our author highlights it in evidence has the declared scope, of  to specify the relation between the trinitarian God and the faithful man: „the happiness of the Kingdom of Heavens is not a sight of being [of God], but, first of all, is the participation at the divine life of the Holy Trinity”[7].

On the idea of ​​participation at God will focus and the 4th chapter, which treats the reality of divine uncreated energies.

Starting from the affirmation, that the trinitarian theology asks „a impartation from what in what more intimate of human person with the God-Trinity”[8], the author speaks about the paradox of accessibility at [the divine] nature, which is inaccessible”[9].

The participation at the divine nature, stipulated by II Pet. 1, 4, represents just the foundation of deification, for that „the being of God or His nature proper-said…is inaccessible, uncognoscible, uncommunicable…[on when, through] the energies or the divine works, ie those natural powers and inseparable of being, in [through] which God proceeds outside, He shows, communicates, gives”[10] on Himself.

Our theologian attracts the attention of its readers, that in the Orthodox Church „the presence of God in His energies…[is] understood in realistic sense[11]. The energies that come from God are not created, but „are the overflows of divine nature”[12]. They come out from the nature of God, „without to separate of it in this procession, which makes it known[13].

To make the experience of uncreated energies of God means to see the light, for „He is fully present in every ray of His deity”[14].

From this motive, in the chapter dedicated to the deification (chap. 10), our theologian sees the scope of the entire christian life and of virtues, as being the interior acquirement of grace[15], that „fixation in good”[16] of our interiority.

The grace is not a recompense for merits[17], says he, but „o presence of God in us, which asks, fom our part, steadfast endeavors. [But]…these endeavors does not determine, not in the least, the grace, nor the grace does not move our freedom as a power what would be foreign[18].

All the preparation for to speak about sight at Professor Vladimir Lossky begins with the discussion about prayer, which is seen as the interior space, in which occurs the union with God[19].

The role of prayer is that of interior passage towards the sight of God, for that, „on a certain stage, when leaves the soul sphere, in which the mind is in motion, all motion ceases, the prayer ceases and it”[20] and takes place the rapture of mind[21].

In ecstasy, the man no longer belongs, but he is led by the Holy Ghost[22]. Appealing at the symeonian theology, our author speaks and him about ecstasies as about the personal events on which live the beginners and not the perfect[23].

He appeals, both, at the paradigm of Tabor, for to speak about sight, but and at that of Lord’s tomb in the Resurrection day, as and the Holy Fathers of Church[24].

Our inghostualization gives us the capacity of to see the light of God[25]. And the sight does not occur into a state of unconsciousness and of its interior elusiveness, for that „the callousness in the inlying life is an abnormal state[26].

The sight is a plenary state, refelt in fundamental mode by us, for that „the divine light appears here, in world, in time”[27], but is „the beginning of Parusia in the holy souls, the beginning  of discoveries from end, when God will show all in His unapproachable light”[28].

Professor Vladimir Lossky catches very well in his theology the eschatological dimension of ecstasy, but and the eschatological dimension of transfiguration of the world through the divine light: „The bodies of the Saints will make the same with the glorified body of the Lord, as shown to the Apostles in the day of the Change at face. God will be all in all and the divine grace, the light of the Holy Trinity will shine in the crowd of the human hypostases, in all those who have acquired it and which will be make as some new suns in the Kingdom of the Father, like the Son, transformed by the Holy Ghost, the Giver of light”[29].

The acquirement of grace, as its interior feeling and the sight of God, are at our theologian  itself the content of personal holiness. Only from the perspective of experience, he says, can be understand the dogmas[30], and „the measure of personal exaltation of each” is that, which determines the theology on which we write it.

The theology, for that is, first of all, experimental understanding of the life of God, is the personal dynamism of our life and represents the level of real communion of us with God.

In conclusion, with his small sideslips from the sphere of understanding of ecstatic experience, the theology of Professor Vladimir Lossky reactualises the need of a theological writing based on personal experience and reminds us that the theology cannot be otherwise than mystical, than personal.

Our author shows faithful of the triadology of the Scripture and of the Fathers and tells us that the living God of the Church is the God, Which comes down, through His energies, until at us, as to deify us and lift us up to Him.

The sight of God is a ghostual reality in his theology, a reality which appears in people’s lives which cleanse of sins and represents the experience in advance, before of time, of the glory of the eighth day.

[1] TMBR, p. 65-66.

[2] Idem, p. 67.

[3] Idem, p. 70.

[4] Ibidem.

[5] Ibidem.

[6] Idem, p. 72.

[7] Idem, p. 93.

[8] Idem, p. 97.

[9] Idem, p. 98-99.

[10] Idem, p. 100.

[11] Idem, p. 102.

[12] Ibidem.

[13] Idem, p. 103.

[14] Ibidem.

[15] Idem, p. 228.

[16] Rev. Marc-Antoine Costa de Beauregard, Pray Without Ceasing! [Rugaţi-vă neîncetat!], trans. from french language by Rodica Buga and Rev. Prof. Nicolai Buga, Pub. IBMBOR, Bucureşti, 1998, p. 271.

[17] TMBR, p. 228.

[18] Idem, p. 229.

[19] Idem, p. 236.

[20] Idem, p. 237.

[21] Ibidem.

[22] Ibidem.

[23] Idem, p. 238.

[24] Idem, p. 252.

[25] Idem, p. 253.

[26] Idem, p. 254.

[27] Idem, p. 261.

[28] Ibidem.

[29] Idem, p. 263-264. Father Professor Dumitru Popescu, into an article dedicated of the centrality of Christ in theology and in the life of all creation, put a pressed accent on the reality of interior rationality of creation and on its interior dynamism.

Therefore, said this: „The most efficient path for the undermining of the centrality of Christ consists in the negation of the interior rationality of creation. […] The orthodox theology, influenced by scholasticism and aristotelianism, commits a grave error then, when identifies the shape of things and of beings with their exterior appearance, as and how God would be a Sculptor, which is concerned only of the exterior form and unchangeable of the statue on which he forms it”, and not and of its interiority, acc. Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Popescu, The Centrality of Christ in the Contemporaneous Orthodox Theology [Centralitatea lui Hristos în teologia ortodoxă contemporană], in The Orthodoxy [Ortodoxia] LIII (2002), no. 3-4, p. 14, 15.

In the measure in which is denied the interiority of relation of God with the man and with the entire creation, through the divine grace, the deification of man and of creation is not possible.

[30] Idem, p. 267.

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