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Seeing the uncreated light here if one wants to experience His light in the next life


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#1 Ephrem Gall

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 01:08 AM

I believe I remember rightly that this is what St. Symeon the New Theologian has said: we must be purified and illumined here to experience the joys of the Kingdom. He may have said other things that qualify the statement somewhat, but he did say this or something very much like it. Is there Patristic corroboration of this, or do other Holy Fathers qualify or even contradict it? Our Lord Jesus does speak of striving to enter by the narrow gate. Correct me if I'm mistaken, but very few Orthodox Christians see the uncreated Light in this life.

Yet our funeral service holds forth hope for the great mercy of the Lord for all deceased Orthodox Christians: "Give rest to the souls of Thy servant, N., in a place of brightness, a place of verdure, a place of repose, whence all sickness, sorrow, and sighing have fled away. Pardon every sin he has committed , whether by word,, or deed, or thought. for Thou art good, and lovest mankind; for there is no man that sinneth not, and Thou alone art without sin."

There seems to be some distance between these prayers and the scenario St. Symeon holds forth. Can this be explained?

#2 Olga

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 03:04 AM

I would regard the hymnography of the Church, which represents the consensus patrum, to be of greater authority than that of an individual saint.

#3 IoanC

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 06:06 AM

It is very common for Saints to see/experience the uncreated Energies of God even from this life. In fact, we are called to it by God. It is His wish that we enter The Kingdom, and He opened the Gates of His Kingdom on Pentecost when The Apostles and all who would follow were to receive The Holy Spirit. The very destination of Hesychasm is seeing the Uncreated Light. Also, the very fact that the Saints knew the future, could heal, could pass knowledge, music, icons, teachings from The Holy Spirit, The Angels, or departed Saints is a witness that they were already entering and communicating with Heaven even from this earthly life. We have it described in 'the levels of Prayer' how a soul can pass through various stages up to 'vision of God in The Kingdom of Heaven' (see this thread: http://www.monachos....f-prayer-sought! ).

We must be careful though not to make and end in itself out of seeing The Uncreated Light. Also, we must not expect to see a physical light. The Uncreated Energies means that we simply get to know God on spiritual and personal level, that we Get to interact with Him and receive His Grace more abundantly. But things like "entering by the narrow gate" remain valid and, of course, are always necessary in order for us to progress. At any rate, it's only for God to determine if a soul sees the Uncreated Light from this life, or the next, or most often it is rather that the soul of a practicing Orthodox Christian begins to taste the Energies of God from this life in varying degrees. Often time we do experience God's Uncreated Light, but we don't really think of it as such, or don't notice it.

Edited by Ioan, 24 December 2011 - 07:02 AM.


#4 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 01:14 PM

Mr Ioan is right, I believe. Experience of the Uncreated Light is not confined to the ‘Saints’ recognised as such by the Church. As he says, the purpose of the Christian life theosis and all are called to it. Many Holy Fathers and modern writers have indicated what theosis is and how it may be experienced in this life. The theology of theosis is said to be based on the distinction between the essence of God, which is unknowable, and His energies through which He may manifest Himself to people. The "union of love which constitutes the true aim of the apophatic approach is a union with God in his energies, not in his essence" writes Bishop Kallistos. Theosis constitutes 'gnosis' or knowledge of God; that is, it is to encounter God (in His energies). "It is possible, even in this present life, for a man to experience his deification as already taking place". God's energies are manifested as light and "[g]nosis, the highest stage of awareness of the divine, is an experience of the uncreated light." Lossky further writes, "God is light, and those whom He makes worthy to see Him, see Him as light."

Archimandrite Sophrony writes, "This wondrous Light … eclipsed all else", and again, "[e]verything within and without is illumined: only the Light is seen." He continues, "The manifestation of Light affords man existential knowledge of God …", confirming that a vision of the Light is an encounter with God Himself: it is, he writes, "participation in the Divine Life, contact with Unoriginate Being". Archimandrite Sophrony, in the Chapter on The Uncreated Light in "WE SHALL SEE HIM AS HE IS", describes the effect of a visitation of this Light. Professor Mantzarides writes that "man is incapable of experiencing the uncreated light through his powers of perception. His eyes are blind to such a sight. But on receiving the power of the Holy Spirit they are transformed and become capable of such a vision". He adds that one "perceives neither through the corporeal nor through the intellectual eyes, but through the Holy Spirit". Archimandrite Sophrony writes, "Azure-blue is the colour of transcendency."

“Divine Light", says Archimandrite Sophrony, "is eternal life, the Kingdom of God, the uncreated energy of the Divinity". He elsewhere quotes 1 John 3:2: "Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." Thus, apart from the clear reference by Saint John to our potential for theosis, there is implicit an eschatological dimension to the experience of the Light. In Lossky's words, "Perfect vision of the deity, perceptible in its uncreated light, is 'the mystery of the eighth day'; it belongs to the age to come." Professor Mantzarides describes the uncreated light as " 'the prelude to Christ's second coming', 'the substance of future blessings', 'the pledge of the age to come', or as the common reward and garment of Christian deification." Professor Mantzarides writes that a person's recovery from his fallen states "is always linked to a new illumination or, as Palamas says, to the re-assumption of his vestment of light". Grace is not a reward for good works or a virtuous will but is a gift from God bestowed where there is a "concurrence by our free will." As Archimandrite Sophrony puts it, "[c]ontemplation of divine realities is possible only if one's spirit is to some extent in harmony with the object of contemplation … Every true vision of God is a gift from the High God making us participants in His life, granting us humility and peace, wisdom and knowledge, love and goodness."

#5 Vlad

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 02:14 PM

Very usefull Andreas's comentary. St Symeon the New Theologyan used another phrase also, that has the same meaning. Quoting out of my memory: „The one that did not see Christ in this life, will not see Him in the life that comes after.” Seeing the uncrated light is a very high level of „seeing Christ”, or with other words, is a very high level of „being illumined”. Everybody that will be found by God, on lower levels, but wishing to climb up, will see Christ in the eight day. So help us God!

#6 Niko T.

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 05:50 PM

St. Symeon's beautiful and true words should not lead us to despair.

With his words he is reinforcing that we are able to participate in the Uncreated Light through the visitation of the Holy Spirit in this life. But regardless of whether we are made worthy of visually perceiving Him, we must participate in the Grace of the Holy Spirit in this life, in one way or another, to do so in His Kingdom. Thus, he is urging us to continue to deny the things of this life, purify ourselves, and seek to be made worthy of His coming.

Whether we have eyes to see it or not, as members of the body of Christ in His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church, through a life of true repentance and participation in the sacramental life of the Church, we should all be on the path to theosis and His Kingdom.

And though there are many Saints that were granted astounding spiritual visions and visible miracles in their lives, there were also many who repented near the end of their life, or were quickly martyred without visible signs, thus giving their lives for Christ. True repentance, love for God, eros for martyrdom, etc. are also signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Though not every Saint has visibly seen the Uncreated Light before death (from what we know), they did perceive His light, they became true temples of God, and after their deaths, they now dwell in eternal light and life in Paradise. May we all be made worthy of His coming!

#7 Ephrem Gall

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 07:02 PM

Thank you, Olga, Mr. Ioan, Rdr Andreas. I reproach myself for putting forth this dichotomy. We are called to accuse ourselves continually so as to repent and enter in by the narrow way even as we called to justify others, toward purification, illumination, theosis. This Way can be lost sight of even as we go about an active Church life, settling in at a certain level, and I fear that is what I have been doing. I'm looking forward to studying Fr. Dumitre Staniloae's [U]Orthodox Spirituality[ /U] which I have ordered and am awaiting toward a personal reorientation.

This word of Mr. Ioan intriques me:

"most often it is rather that the soul of a practicing Orthodox Christian begins to taste the Energies of God from this life in varying degrees. Often time we do experience God's Uncreated Light, but we don't really think of it as such, or don't notice it."



And Rdr Andreas' quotes from Archimandrite Sophrony:

one "perceives neither through the corporeal nor through the intellectual eyes, but through the Holy Spirit". Archimandrite Sophrony writes, "Azure-blue is the colour of transcendency."



and

"[c]ontemplation of divine realities is possible only if one's spirit is to some extent in harmony with the object of contemplation … Every true vision of God is a gift from the High God making us participants in His life, granting us humility and peace, wisdom and knowledge, love and goodness."


Mr. Ioan's quote suggests to me that the Divine energies come in different forms. Archimandrite Sophrony's quotes differentiate the Uncreated Light from what both the corporeal and intellectual eyes perceive, suggesting that this Light is definitely other than what we experience from created light. Yet he specifies a color to the Uncreated Light: azure-blue. In any case, as a beginner I am not expecting to experience these things anytime soon, though the Lord may surprise me. I have to press on, with perserverence, to know the Lord.

Also- long before I became an Orthodox Christian, at age 19, I was sought the meaning and purpose of life by exploring books on the classics section of a local bookstore, having become disenchanted with the heterodox Church of my childhood. Though other works were thoughtful and intriguing, Dostoevsky's novels directed me to Christ and the Gospels. And then an expectant reading of the Gospels renewed my faith and devotion toward Christ.

As a result of this reading and some conversations with some Christians, I inwardly- a bit different from the Protestant Evangelical sinners prayer- made a decision to commit my life to Christ. Which of course we need to do each day. But this decision did result in a period of time in which I experienced great joy, and the nearby fields and forests where I would take walks that Spring (1974) glowed with a radiant green that was different from other springtimes. I must add that my teenage years as a whole were desperately unhappy and lonely ones, and this newfound meaning and purpose through Christ was in stark contrast to what came before. In the years since that time there have been days and moments when this great joy has surfaced again, but not in the same sustained way. I do realize that seeking such feelings is not a worthy goal; pleasing the Lord and giving to others in Christ's Name is. But I do now believe those experiences were the Divine energies given by the Holy Spirit to me, the unworthy. Grace for the sinner.

And that I am responsible to invest in what I am given.

Edited by Ephrem Gall, 24 December 2011 - 07:07 PM.
to wrap selected texts


#8 Ephrem Gall

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 07:51 PM

Neptune is azure-blue: http://2.bp.blogspot...2-neptune-4.jpg

#9 Ephrem Gall

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 09:12 PM

Your quote, Vlad, is the one I was referring to. I was paraphrasing; putting it in my own words, since I did not remember it exactly. Thanks for your encouragement.
If the way I interpreted my early experiences is faulty, please, somebody, let me know.

#10 Ephrem Gall

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 09:22 PM

As to the stages of prayer (from Mr. Ioan) progressing from prayer of the mind to prayer of the heart- I would like to hear more on this.

#11 Paul Cowan

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 09:36 PM

There are several threads on this via the search feature. :)

#12 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 09:48 PM

As to the stages of prayer (from Mr. Ioan) progressing from prayer of the mind to prayer of the heart- I would like to hear more on this.


I was taught these things (but have signally failed to put them into practice) by Bishop Irenaeos and Archimandrite Zacharias, but I learned a lot from the these books which I read in the following order:
The Art of Prayer complied by Igumen Chariton
Writings from the Philokalia on the Prayer of the Heart
The Enlargement of the Heart by Archimandrite Zacharias
Hesychia and Theology by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.

But Elder Sophrony said that we cannot learn from books how to pray. Books only tell us about prayer. But we can learn true theology from the ascetic fathers, about the right attitude of the mind and heart. Once when I asked Fr Zacharias how to pray, he said, by praying for prayer begets prayer.

#13 IoanC

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 06:51 AM

As Rdr Andreas has said, we can talk about prayer or study about prayer but this doesn't necessarily lead to prayer or a genuine life in Christ. If we use the method of study and the way of thinking of this world and apply it to prayer the results can be bad because prayer does not really depend on a system but on God's Grace, coming into communion with Him and having knowledge of Him. The primary purpose of our life is to simply Live in Christ with Christ, not some spiritual path as in the case of say Eastern Religions. That said, it's not at all wrong to learn about these things and try to apply them, as long as they don't distract us from what is really important. In a way, these teachings act like crutches or points of reference, but there have been many a saint who where very simple people who simply lived The Gospel to its maximum and attained Theosis without any complicated means. The most important part is that God's Grace takes over our lives in the way or according to the method that God thinks is appropiate for each one of us.

As to the stages of prayer (from Mr. Ioan) progressing from prayer of the mind to prayer of the heart- I would like to hear more on this.



#14 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 02:20 PM

There are those we know, such as St Silouan, and those known only to God and perhaps their closest people who attain to theosis because, like Christ, they descend into deep humility by casting off their own will, accept God's will entirely, and so are raised up by Him and see the Uncreated Light.

#15 Ephrem Gall

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 02:58 AM

Yes it is my habit to try to master concepts and somehow convince myself that I was then halfway to mastering the practice. And its really about longterm, patient faithfulness, sowing seeds, and waiting for God to give the growth. Thank you, Mr. Ioan.




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