SYMEON the
NEW T
HEOLOGIAN

  various texts (chiefly on confession)
 

 Symeon, mod. icon

CATECHESIS 22   [Letter 1]
 lines 88-100, Tr. Kallistos Ware).B. Krivochéine and J. Paramelle, Syméon le Nouveau Théologien, Catéchèses [Sources Chrétiennes 96,  Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1963]

WHILE he was standing one day and saying the prayer God be merciful to me a sinner (Luke 18:13), more with his intellect than with his mouth, a divine radiance suddenly appeared in abundance from above and filled the whole room.

¨̔Ισταμένου οὖν αὐτοῦ ἐν μιᾷ καὶ τὸ «̈̔Ο Θεός, ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ» λαλοῦντος τῷ νοῒ μᾶλλον ἢ τῷ στόματι, ἔλλαμψις θεία πλουσίως αἴφνης ἐπέφανεν ἄνωθεν (90) καὶ πάντα τὸν τόπον ἐπλήρωσε.

When this happened, the young man lost all awareness of his surroundings and forgot whether he was in a house or under a roof. He saw nothing but light on every side, and did not even know if he was standing on the ground [...]

Τούτου δὲ γεγονότος ἠγνόησεν ὁ νεανίας καὶ ἐπελάθετο εἰ ἐν οἴκῳ ἦν ἢ ὅτι ὑπὸ στέγην ὑπῆρχε. Φῶς γὰρ μόνον ἔβλεπε πάντοθεν καὶ οὐδὲ εἰ ἐπὶ γῆς ἐπάτει ἐγίνωσκεν.

He was wholly united to non material light and, so it seemed, he had himself been turned into light. Oblivious of all the world, he was overwhelmed with tears and with inexpressible joy and exultation

(95) [...] ἀλλ’ ὅλως φωτὶ ἀΰλῳ συνὼν καὶ τῷ δοκεῖν αὐτὸς φῶς γενόμενος καὶ παντὸς τοῦ κόσμου ἐπιλαθόμενος, δακρύων καὶ χαρᾶς ἀνεκφράστου καὶ ἀγαλλιάσεως ἔμπλεως ἐγένετο. |.. (100)

ETHICAL ORATIONS 

Orationes ethicae TLG 3116.008 J. Darrouzès, Syméon le Nouveau Théologien, Traités théologiques et éthiques [Sources Chrétiennes 122,129. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1966, 1967]: 1:170-440; 2:8-458.
 (“On the Mystical Life [Vol..1]”, pp. 166-169)

THIS, invariably, is just what occurs concerning the invisible God. Whenever someone sees Him revealed, he sees light. While on the one hand he is amazed at what he has seen, on the other he does not know immediately who it is who has appeared, yet he dares not ask Him. And how could he? He is unable even to lift up his eyes and look on that grandeur. With fear and trembling he looks instead, as it were, at his own feet, knowing fully only that it is Someone Who has appeared before his face.

Οὕτως οὖν καὶ περὶ τοῦ ἀοράτου Θεοῦ ἀπαραλλάκτως γίνεται.¨Οταν γὰρ ἀποκαλυφθέντα θεάσηταί τις αὐτόν, φῶς ὁρᾷ· καὶ θαυμάζει μὲν ἰδών, τίς δὲ ὁ φανεὶς οὐκ οἶδεν εὐθύς, ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ αὐτὸν ἐρωτῆσαι τολμᾷ, —πῶς γάρ, ὃν (290) οὐδὲ ἀναβλέψαι τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς καὶ ἰδεῖν δύναται ποταπός; — βλέπει δὲ μόνον ἐν τρόμῳ καὶ φόβῳ πολλῷ οἱονεὶ πρὸς τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ, εἰδὼς ὅτι ὅλως τίς ἐστιν ὁ φανεὶς πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ.

And if there happens to be some other man who has told him beforehand about such things, as having known God from before, he goes to this man and says:

Καὶ εἰ μὲν ὑπάρχει ὁ περὶ τούτων προεξηγησάμενος αὐτῷ, ὡς προεγνωκὼς τὸν Θεόν, ἀπερχόμενος λέγει αὐτῷ· (295)

     “I have seen.” And the other says: “What did you see, child?” “Light, O my father, so sweet, sweet! So much so, father, that my reason has not the strength to tell you.” And, while he is saying this, his heart leaps and pounds, and catches on fire with longing for what he has seen. Then, with many warm tears, he begins to say again: “That light, father, appeared to me. The walls of my cell immediately vanished and the world disappeared, fleeing I think from before His face, and I remained alone in the presence alone of the light. And I do not know, father if this my body was there, too. I do not know if I was outside of it. For awhile I did not know that I carry and am clothed with a body. 

«Εἶδον.» Καί φησι· «Τί, τέκνον, εἶδες;» —«Φῶς, ὦ πάτερ, γλυκύ, γλυκύ· ποταπὸν εἰπεῖν σοι, πάτερ, οὐκ  ἐξικανοῦσαν ἔχω μου τὴν διάνοιαν.» Καὶ ὡς οὖν τοῦτο λέγει, σκιρτᾷ καὶ πάλλει ἡ καρδία αὐτοῦ καὶ πρὸς τὸν πόθον τοῦ ὀφθέντος εὐθὺς ἀνάπτεται. Εἶτα πάλιν ἄρχεται (300) λέγειν μετὰ δακρύων θερμῶν καὶ πολλῶν ὡς· «Ωράθη μοι, πάτερ, ἐκεῖνο τὸ φῶς· ἤρθη ὁ οἶκος τῆς κέλλης εὐθὺς καὶ παρῆλθεν ὁ κόσμος, φυγὼν ὡς οἶμαι ἀπὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ· ἔμεινα δὲ μόνος ἐγὼ μόνῳ συνὼν τῷ φωτί. Οὐκ οἶδα δὲ εἰ ἦν καὶ τὸ σῶμα τοῦτο, πάτερ, τηνικαῦτα ἐκεῖ· εἰ γὰρ ἔξω (305) τούτου γέγονα ἀγνοῶ, τέως οὐκ ᾔδειν ὅτι σῶμα φορῶ καὶ περίκειμαι.

And such great joy was in me and is with me now, great love and longing both, that I was moved to streams of tears like rivers, just like now as you see.” Ην μοι δὲ χαρὰ ἡ καὶ νῦν συνοῦσά μοι ἄφραστος,ἀγάπη τε καὶ πόθος πολύς, ὡς κινηθῆναί μου τὰ νάματα κατὰ ποταμοὺς τῶν δακρύων, καθὰ δὴ καὶ νῦν, ὡς ὁρᾷς.»
The other then answers and says: “It is He, child.” And, at this word, he sees Him again and, little by little, comes to be completely purified and, purified, grows bold and asks that One Himself, and says: “My God, is it You?”  ¨̓Αποκριθεὶς οὖν λέγει αὐτῷ· «Εκεῖνος, τέκνον, ἐστί.» (310) Καὶ σὺν τῷ λόγῳ βλέπει πάλιν αὐτὸν καὶ μικρὸν μικρὸν τελείως καθαίρεται, καθαιρόμενος δὲ παρρησιάζεται καὶ ἐκεῖνον αὐτὸν ἐρωτᾷ καί φησιν· «Ο Θεός μου, σὺ εἶ;»

And He answers and says: “Yes, I am He, God, Who for your sake became man; and behold, I have made you, as you see, and shall make you, god.

Καὶ ἀποκρίνεται καὶ φησί· «Ναί, ἐγώ εἰμι, ὁ Θεός, ὁ διὰ σὲ ἄνθρωπος γεγονώς· καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ πεποίηκά σε, ὡς ὁρᾷς, (315) καὶ ποιήσω θεόν

Symeon’s Beatitudes of light

BLESSED are they... who have received Christ coming as light in the darkness (Jn 1:5,12), for they are become sons of light and of day (1 Thes 5:5).

 ¨̓Αλλὰ μακάριοι οἱ, ὡς φῶς ἐλθόντα, τὸν Χριστὸν ἐν τῷ σκότει δεξάμενοι, ὅτι αὐτοὶ υἱοὶ φωτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἐγένοντο

BLESSED are they who even now have put on His light, for they are clothed already with the wedding garment. They will not be bound hand and foot, nor will they be cast into the everlasting fire (cf Mt 22:11-13) [. . .]

Μακάριοι οἱ τὸ φῶς αὐτοῦ νυνὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι, ὅτι τὸ τοῧ(780) γάμου ἤδη περιεβάλοντο ἔνδυμα· οἳ οὐ δεθήσονται χεῖρας ἢ πόδας, οὐδὲ εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον ἐμβληθήσονται.

BLESSED are they who hourly taste of the ineffable light with the mouth of their intellect, for they shall walk “becomingly as in the day” (Rom 13:13), and spend all their time in rejoicing...

Μακάριοι οἱ τὸν Χριστὸν καθ’ ἑκάστην μετὰ τοιαύτης (790) ἐσθίοντες θεωρίας καὶ γνώσεως, ὡς¨̔Ησαΐας ὁ προφήτης τὸν ἄνθρακα, ὅτι αὐτοὶ καθαρθήσονται ἀπὸ παντὸς ῥύπου ψυχῆς τε καὶ σώματος.

BLESSED are they who have kindled the light in their hearts even now and have kept it unquenched, for on their departing this life they shall go radiant to meet the Bridegroom, and go in with Him to the bridal chamber bearing their lamps... (cf Mt 25:1-13)

Μακάριοι οἱ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ ἑαυτῶν καρδίᾳ νυνὶ ἀνάψαντες καὶ ἄσβεστον τοῦτο διαφυλάξαντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ τῷ νυμφίῳ (805) ἐν τῇ τοῦ βίου ἐξόδῳ φαιδροὶ προσυπαντήσουσι καὶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν νυμφῶνα λαμπαδοῦχοι συνεισελεύσονται.

BLESSED are they who ever weep bitterly for their sins, for the light shall seize them and change the bitter into sweet (cf Mt 5:4). …

Μακάριοι οἱ ἀεὶ πικρῶς διὰ τὰ αὐτῶν ἁμαρτήματα κλαίοντες, ὅτι αὐτοὺς τὸ φῶς καταλάβῃ καὶ τὰ πικρὰ δάκρυα εἰς γλυκέα μεταποιήσει.

BLESSED are they who shine with the divine light and who see their own infirmity and understand the deformity of their soul’s vesture, for they shall weep without failing and, but by the channels of their tears, be washed clean.

Μακάριοι οἱ τῷ θείῳ φωτὶ αὐγαζόμενοι καὶ τὴν ἑαυτῶν (825) ἀσθένειαν βλέποντες καὶ τὸ δυσειδὲς τῆς ψυχικῆς αὐτῶν στολῆς κατανοοῦντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἀενάως κλαύσονται καὶ τοῖς ὀχετοῖς τῶν δακρύων ἀποπλυνθήσονται.

BLESSED are they who have drawn near the divine light and entered within it and become wholly light, having been mingled with it, for they have completely taken off their soiled vesture and shall weep bitter tears no more (cf Rom 13:12-14).

Μακάριοι οἱ τῷ θείῳ φωτὶ πλησιάσαντες καὶ ἐνδὸν αὐτοῦ εἰσελθόντες καὶ φῶς ὅλοι γενόμενοι, συγκραθέντες αὐτῷ, (830) ὅτι αὐτοὶ τὴν ῥυπαρὰν τελείως στολὴν ἀπεδύσαντο καὶ οὐκέτι πικρὰ δάκρυα κλαύσονται

BLESSED are they who see their own clothing shining as Christ, for they shall be filled hourly with joy inexpressible and shall weep tears of astounding sweetness, perceiving that they have become themselves already sons and co-participants of the resurrection.

Μακάριοι οἱ τὸ ἑαυτῶν ἔνδυμα ὡς τὸν Χριστὸν ἐκλάμποντα βλέποντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἀνεκφράστου χαρᾶς καθ’ ὥραν πλησ- θήσονται καὶ ἐν ἐκπλήξει γλυκέως δακρύσουσιν, υἱοὺς καὶ  (835) συμμετόχους ἑαυτοὺς ἤδη γεγονότας τῆς ἀναστάσεως τεκμαιρόμενοι.

BLESSED are they who have the eye of their intellect ever open and with prayer see the light and converse with it mouth to mouth, for they are of equal honor with the angels and, dare I say it, have and shall become higher than the angels, for the latter sing praises while the former intercede. And, if they have become and are ever becoming such while still living in the body and impeded by the corruption of the flesh, what shall they be after the Resurrection and after they have received that spiritual and incorruptible body? Certainly, they shall not be merely the equals of angels, but indeed like the angels’ Master, as it is written: “But we know,” he says, “that when He appears we shall be like Him” (1 Jn 3:2)

Μακάριοι οἱ διηνεκῶς τὸ νοερὸν ὄμμα ἀνεῳγμένον ἔχοντες καὶ ἐν πάσῃ εὐχῇ τὸ φῶς καθορῶντες καὶ στόμα πρὸς στόμα συλλαλοῦντες αὐτῷ, ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἰσότιμοι τῶν (840) ἀγγέλων, εἰ τολμηρὸν δὲ εἰπεῖν, καὶ ὑπὲρ ἀγγέλους ἐγένοντο καὶ γενήσονται· ἐκεῖνοι γὰρ ὑμνοῦσιν, οὗτοι δὲ ἐντυγχά- νουσιν. Εἰ δὲ τοιοῦτοι ἐγένοντο καὶ ἀεὶ γίνονται, ἔτι περιόντες τῷ βίῳ καὶ τῇ τῆς σαρκὸς φθορᾷ ἐμπεδούμενοι, ὁποῖοι ἂν μετὰ τὴν ἀνάστασιν καὶ μετὰ τὸ ἀπολαβεῖν τὸ πνευματικὸν (845) ἐκεῖνο καὶ ἄφθαρτον σῶμα ἔσονται; Πάντως οὐκ ἀγγέλων μόνον ἴσοι, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῦ τῶν ἀγγέλων δεσπότου ὅμοιοι, καθὼς γέγραπται· «Οἴδαμεν δέ, φησίν, ὅτι, ὅταν ἀποκαλυφθῇ, ὅμοιοι αὐτῷ ἐσόμεθα.»

BLESSED is that monk who is present before God in prayer and who sees Him and is seen by Him (cf Jn 14:21, Mt 5:8), and perceives himself as having gone beyond the world and as being in God alone, and is unable to know whether he happens to be in the body or outside the body (2 Cor 12:2-3), for he will hear “ineffable speech which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor 12:4), and shall see “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived” (1 Cor 2:9).

Μακάριος ὁ μοναχὸς ἐκεῖνος ὁ ἐν εὐχῇ τῷ Θεῷ παριστάμενος- (850) καὶ βλέπων αὐτὸν καὶ βλεπόμενος παρ’ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔξω τοῦ κόσμου γεγονότα ἑαυτὸν αἰσθανόμενος, ὄντα δὲ ἐν τῷ Θεῷ μόνῳ, καὶ μὴ δυνάμενος γνῶναι εἴτε ἐν σώματι εἴτε ἐκτὸς τυγχάνει τοῦ σώματος, ὅτι αὐτὸς ἀκούσει ἄρρητα ῥήματα ἃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἀνθρώπῳ λαλῆσαι, καὶ ἴδῃ ἃ ὀφθαλμὸς (855) οὐκ εἶδεν, οὐδὲ οὖς ἤκουσεν, οὐδὲ ἐπὶ καρδίαν ἀνθρώπου σαρκίνην ἀνέβη.

BLESSED is he who has seen the light of the world take form within himself, for he, having Christ as an embryo within (cf Gal 4:19), shall be reckoned His mother, as He Himself Who does not lie has promised, saying: “Here are my mother and brothers and friends.” Who? “Those who hear the word of God and do it” (Lk 8:2). So those who do not keep His commandments deprive themselves voluntarily of so great a grace, because the thing was and is and will be possible, and has happened and happens and will happen for all who fulfill His ordinances.

Μακάριος ὁ τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου ἐν ἑαυτῷ μορφωθὲν θεασάμενος, ὅτι αὐτὸς ὡς ἔμβρυον ἔχων τὸν Χριστόν, μήτηρ αὐτοῦ λογισθήσεται, καθὼς αὐτὸς ἐκεῖνος ὁ ἀψευδὴς (860) ἐπηγγείλατο· «Μήτηρ μου» λέγων «καὶ ἀδελφοὶ καὶ φίλοι οὗτοί εἰσι.» Ποῖοι; «Οἱ ἀκούοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ ποιοῦντες αὐτόν.»¨Ωστε οἱ μὴ τηροῦντες τὰς ἐντολάς, ἑαυτοὺς τῆς τοιαύτης χάριτος ἑκουσίως ἀποστε-  ροῦσιν, ἐπεὶ δυνατὸν τὸ πρᾶγμα καὶ ἦν καὶ ἔστι καὶ ἔσεται (865) καὶ ἐγένετο καὶ γίνεται καὶ εἰς πάντας τοὺς τὰ προστάγματα αὐτοῦ ἐκπληροῦντας γενήσεται.

LETTER 1: On the Forgiveness of Sins

1. You have asked our worthlessness to tell you, father and brother, “if it is proper to confess our sins to monks who do not have holy orders”, adding this also, “because we have heard that the power to bind or loose was given only to the priests”. [...]

α´. ἐπέταξας τῇ εὐτελείᾳ ἡμῶν, πάτερ καὶ ἀδελφὲ, ἐρωτηματικῶς εἰπεῖν σοί, < εἶ ἄρα ἐνδέχεται εἰς μονάζοντάς τινας ἐξαγγέλλειν τὰς ἅμαρτίας αὐτῶν ἱερωσύνην μὴ ἔχοντας >,· προσθεὶς καὶ τοῦτο· < ἐπειδὴ ἀκουόμεν τοῦ δεσμεῖν  καὶ λύειν ἐξουσίαν τοῖς ἰερεῦσι δίδασθαι μόνοις>.

10. [...] You should not desire to be a mediator for others until you yourself have been filled with the Holy Spirit, until you know and win the friendship of the King of all with conscious awareness in your soul. [...]

ι´. ἀλλά γάρ μηδὲ μεσῖται τῶν λοιπῶν πρὸ τοῦ πλησθῆναι ὑμᾶς πνεύματος ἁγίου γενέσθαι θελήσητε, καὶ πρὸ τοῦ γνωρίσαι καὶ φιλιωθῆναι ὑμᾶς ἐν αἰσθήσει ψυχῆς τῷ βασιλεῖ τῶν ἀπάντων.

11. Confession to a monk who does not have holy orders, you will find, was practised everywhere ever since monks existed and the garment of repentance and, the monastic life were given by God in His legacy, as it is recorded in the divinely inspired writings of the Fathers. And if you look into them, you will find that what we are saying is true.

ὅτι γὰρ ἐνδέχεται εἰς μοναχὸν ἱερωσύνην μἠ ἔχοντα ἐξαγγέλλειν ἡμας, τοῦτο ἀφ’ οὗ τὸ τῆς μετανοίας ἔνδυμά τε καὶ πρόσχημα ἐκ θεοῦ ἐδωρήθη τῇ κληρονομίᾳ αὐτοῦ, καὶ μοναχοὶ ὠνομάσθησαν ἐπὶ πάντας εὑρήσεις γενόμενον, καθὼς ἐν ταῖς θεοπνεύστοις τῶν πατέρων γραφαῖς ἐγγράφεται, ἐν αἷς ἐγκύψας εὑρήσεις ὡς ἀληθῆ τὰ λεγόμενα.

14. Therefore, the power to remit sins is given by God neither to those who have the monastic schema nor to those who are ordained to the ranks of priesthood, nor to those honoured by the office of episcopacy, I mean to patriarchs and metropolitans and bishops. merely because of their ordination and its office.[...]

Οὔτε οὖν τοῖς τῷ σχήματι μοναχυῖς οὐτε τοῖς κεχειροτονημένοις καὶ εἰς ἱερωσυνης ἐγκαταλεγεῖσι βαθμὸν οὔτε τοῖς´τῷ τῆς ἀρχιερωσύνης τετιμημένοις ἀξιώματι, πατριάρχαις φημὶ καὶ μητροπολίταις καὶ ἐπισκόποις, ἁπλως οὕτως καὶ διὰ μόνην τὴν χειροτονίαν καὶ τὴν ταύτης ἀξίαν τὸ ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας ἀπὸ θεοῦ δίδοται –

But the power of remitting sins is given only to those from among the priests and bishops and monks who belong to the rank of the disciples of Christ because of purity.

ἀλλὰ μόνοις ἐκείνοις, ὅσοις ἐν ἱερεῦσι καὶ ἀρχιερεῦσι καὶ μοναχοῖς τὸ συγκαταριθμεῖσθαί ἐστι τοῖς τῶν μαθητῶν τοῦ Χριστοῦ χοροῖς διὰ τὴν ἀγνότητα.

15.[...] This is what it means for one to find his life: to see God, and in that Light to become higher than all of the visible Creation, and to have God as his shepherd and teacher, from whom, if he wishes, he will learn to bind and to loose. And having learnt it accurately, he will worship Him who gave it, and he will pass it to all who have a need of it.

τοῦτό ἐστιν εὑρεῖν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τὸ ἰδεῖν τὸν θεὸν καὶ ἐν τῷ ἐκείνου φωτὶ αὐτὸν γενέσθαι ἁπάσης κτίσεως τῆς ὁρωμένης ἀνώτερον καὶ τὸν θεὸν σχεῖν ποιμένα καὶ διδάσκαλον, παρ’ οὗ καὶ τὸ δεσμεῖν καὶ λύειν εἰ βούλει γνώσεται καὶ γνοὺς ἀκριβως προσκυνήσει τὸν δεδωκότα καὶ τοῖς χρήζουσι μεταδώσει.

16. I know that to such men, my son, the power to bind and loose is given by God the Father from our Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, that is to those, who are his adopted sons and holy servants.

[16.] τοῖς τοιούτοις οἶδα τέκνον δίδοσθαι τοῦ δεσμεῖν καὶ λύειν < τὴν ἐξουσίαν > ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ διὰ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος, τοῖς θέσει οὖσιν υἱοῖς καὶ ἁγίοις δούλοις αὐτοῦ.

And I was a disciple of such a father who did not have the ordination by men, but he made me a disciple by the hand of God, that is by the Holy, Spirit. And he ordered me to receive the ordination of men, for it would be well to observe the customary form since, from my early days, the Holy Spirit was moving me toward it with great desire.

τοιούτῳ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐγὼ ἐμαθήτευσα πατρὶ χειροτονίαν ἐξ ἀνθρώπων

μὴ ἔχοντι, ἀλλὰ χειρί με θεοῦ εἰτ’ οὖν πνεύματι εἰς μαθητείαν ἐγκαταλέξαντι καὶ τὴν ἐξ ἀνθρώπων χειροτονίαν διὰ τὸν παρακολουθήσαντα τύπον καλῶς λαβεῖν με κελεύσαντι, πάλαι ὑπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος ἐπὶ τοῦτο σφοδρῳ πόθῳ κινούμενον.

 

 


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