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Saint Symeon the New Theologian



Spiritual quotes of Saint Symeon the New Theologian
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O grandeur of ineffable glory! O excess of love! He Who embraces all things makes His home within a mortal corruptible man, He by Whose indwelling might all things are governed, and the man becomes as a woman heavy with child. O astonishing miracle and incomprehensible deeds and mysteries of the incomprehensible God! A man carries God consciously within himself as light, carries Him Who has brought all things into being and created them, including the one who carries Him now. He carries Him within as a treasure inexpressible, unspeakable, without quality, quantity, or form, immaterial, shapeless, yet with form in beauty inexplicable, altogether simple, like light, Him Who transcends all light. And, clenching his hands at his sides, this man walks in our midst and is ignored by everyone who surrounds him. Who can then adequately explain the joy of such a man? Will he not be more blessed and more glorious than any emperor? Than whom, or than how many visible worlds, will he not be more wealthy? And in what shall such a man ever be lacking? Truly, in no way shall he lack any of God's good things.




3437 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : On the Mystical Life : The Ethical Discourses. Trans. Alexander Golitzin. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1996,(Vol. 2), p. 135  








T hou Thyself becamest visible… {Thou} didst grant me to see the outline of Thy form beyond shape. At that time Thou tookest me out of the world -- I might even say, out of the body, but Thou didst not grant me to know this exactly. Thou didst shine yet more brightly and it seemed that I saw Thee clearly in Thy entirety. When I said, "O Master, who art Thou?" then, for the first time Thou didst grant me, the prodigal, to hear Thy voice. How gently didst Thou speak to me, who was beside myself, in awe and trembling… Thou saidest, "I am God who have become man for your sake. Because you have sought me with all your soul, behold, from now on you will be My brother, My fellow heir, and My friend




3436 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, pp. 375-376, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








H ow good it is thankfully to proclaim the blessings of God, who loves men!… By grace I have received grace (cf. Jn. 1:16), by doing well I have received [His] kindness, by fire I have been requited with fire, by flame with flame. As I ascended I was given other ascents, at the end of the ascent I was given light, and by the light an even clearer light. In the midst thereof a sun shone brightly and from it a ray shone forth that filled all things. The object of my thought remained beyond understanding, and in this state I remained while I wept most sweetly and marveled at the ineffable. The divine mind conversed with my own mind and taught me, saying, "Do you realize what My power has done to you out of love for men because of but a little faith and patience that strengthens your love? Behold, though you are subject to death, you have become immortal, and though you are ruled by corruption you find yourself above it. You live in the world and yet you are with Me; you are clothed with a body and yet you are not weighed down by any of the pleasures of the body. You are puny in appearance, yet you see intellectually. It is in very deed I who have brought you into being out of nothing."




3435 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 205, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








T he soul cannot live unless it is ineffably and without confusion united to God, who is truly the life eternal (cf. 1 John 5:20). Before this union in knowledge, vision, and perception it is dead, even though it is endowed with intellect and is by nature immortal…




3434 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, pp. 182-184, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








A s we ascend to that which is more perfect, He who is without form or shape comes no longer without form or without shape. Nor does He cause His light to come to us and be present with us in silence. But how? He comes in a definite form indeed, though it is a divine one. Yet God does not show Himself in a particular pattern or likeness, but in simplicity, and takes the form of an incomprehensible, inaccessible, and formless light. We cannot possibly say or express more than this; still He appears clearly and is consciously known and clearly seen, though He is invisible. He sees and hears invisibly and, just as friend speaks to friend face to face (cf. Ex. 33:11), so He who by nature is God speaks to those whom by grace He has begotten as gods. He loves like a father, and in turn He is fervently loved by His sons.




3433 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 365, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








G od} is called light, Who transcends all light, because He illumines us; and life, Who is beyond all life, because He vivifies us. Shining around us all, and encircling and cherishing us with the glory of His divinity, He is called raiment, and so we saw that we clothe ourselves with Him Who is intangible in every way and Who cannot be grasped. Uniting Himself without mingling with our soul, and making it all as light, He is said to indwell us and, uncircumscribed, become circumscribed.




3432 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : On the Mystical Life : The Ethical Discourses. Trans. Alexander Golitzin. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1996, (Vol. 2)", pp. 93-94  








H itherto I had frequently seen a light, at times within, when my soul had enjoyed calmness and peace. At times it appeared to me externally, from afar, or even it was completely hidden, and by its hiddenness caused me the unbearable pain of thinking I would not see it again. But when I lamented and wept and displayed complete solitude and obedience and humility it appeared to me again. It was like the sun as it penetrates through the thickness of mist and gradually shows itself a gently glowing sphere. Thus Thou, the ineffable, the invisible, the impalpable, the immovable, who always are everywhere present in all things and fillest everything, at all times, or if I may say so, by day and by night, art seen and art hidden. Thou goest away and Thou comest, Thou dost vanish from sight and Thou suddenly appearest. So bit by bit Thou didst scatter the darkness that was within me; Thou didst dispel the mist and dissolve the thickness; Thou didst clean the dim eyes of my intellect. Thou didst remove the barriers of my eyes and didst open them; Thou tookest away the veil of insensitivity. At the same time Thou didst put to sleep all passion and every fleshly pleasure and totally expel them from me. Having thus brought me to this state Thou didst clear the heaven of every mist. By "the heaven" I mean the soul Thou hast cleansed in which Thou comest invisibly (how or from whence I know not). Thou who art everywhere present art suddenly found and manifested like another sun. O ineffable condescension!




3431 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, pp. 364-365, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








W hile many have seen {the light of God}, they have not all acquired it, just like many have seen the great treasure in the royal vaults and have gone away empty. While a divine light and illumination often comes in the beginning to those who are fervently repenting, it passes away immediately. If they give themselves up even to death itself and seek it with hard labor, presenting themselves to the Lord as worthy and blameless in every way, then at last they receive it again come back to them. If however, they become a little lazy and take leave from throwing themselves into greater labors by loving their own souls, they become unworthy of so great a gift and do not enter, while still living in the body, into everlasting life.




3430 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : On the Mystical Life : The Ethical Discourses. Trans. Alexander Golitzin. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1996, (Vol. 1), p. 159  








B lessed 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}.

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}

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…

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}

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}.

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.

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}.

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.

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].

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].

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.





3429 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : On the Mystical Life : The Ethical Discourses. Trans. Alexander Golitzin. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1996, (Vol. 1), pp. 166-169  








H e therefore who has died to the world -- for this is the cross -- and lives no longer himself, but it is Christ Who lives in him (Gal. 2:20); who has mortified his earthly members (Col. 3:5), that is, the passionate sensations of the body, such that he has become no longer a participant in any passion or evil lust: how, tell me, can he take in any kind of passionate sensation, or surrender to any movement of pleasure, or ever be troubled in his heart?




3428 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : On the Mystical Life : The Ethical Discourses. Trans. Alexander Golitzin. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1996, (Vol. 2), p. 76  








U nless we become dead to the world and the things in the world (1 John 2:15), how shall we live the "life that is hid in Christ" (Col. 3:3) when we have not died for the sake of God? How, as holy Symeon {the Studite} said, shall we contemplate God dwelling is us as light?




3427 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 127, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








B y crucifying oneself to the world, and the world to oneself (Gal. 6:14)}, brethren, our souls therefore die before death and rise again before the resurrection of the body in deed, in power, in experience, and in truth. When the mortal attitude has been eliminated by the immortal mind and mortality has been driven out by life, then, as though it had risen from the dead, the soul manifestly sees itself, just as those who rise from sleep see themselves. It recognizes God who has raised it; as it perceives Him it gives Him thanks and worships Him and glorifies His infinite goodness. On the other hand, the body is entirely without breath, motion, and memory in relation to its own desires, but in these respects becomes altogether dead and lifeless.




3426 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 296, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








C hrist exhorts us to take up our cross and follow him (Luke 9:23)} I have learned from Scripture and from experience itself that the cross comes at the end for no other reason than that we must endure trials and tribulations and, finally, voluntary death itself… we learn for sure that cross and death consist in nothing else than the complete mortification of self-will. He who pursues his own will, however, slightly, will never be able to observe the precept of Christ the Savior.




3425 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 232, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








I n truth those who have the skill properly to direct and heal rational souls are rare, and especially at the present time. Many, perhaps, have made a pretense of fasting and vigil and a form of godliness… As for learning many things by heart and teaching them in words, this is easy for most men, but as for eliminating the passions and acquiring the capital virtues so that they cannot be lost, very few are found [who do this]. Now we call "capital virtues" humility, which eliminates the passions and obtains heavenly and angelic impassibility, and love, which never ceases or fails (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8) but continually presses on to that which lies ahead (cf. Phil. 3:13-14) as it adds desire to desire and love to love. It supplies perfect discernment, and by itself is a good guide to those who follow after it and infallibly carries us across the spiritual sea… Do not follow the wolf instead of the shepherd (cf. Mt. 7:15), nor enter into a flock that is diseased (cf. Ezek. 34:4).




3424 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 236-237, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








D o not be alone by yourself, lest you be seen carried off by the world who destroys souls, or succumb to one disease after the other and so die spiritually, or, as you succumb, you attain to that woe (cf. Eccles. 4:10). He who gives himself in the hand of a good teacher will have no such worries, but will live without anxiety and be saved in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory forever. Amen.




3423 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 237, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








G od is fire and He is so called by all the inspired Scripture (cf. Heb. 12:29). The soul of each of us is a lamp. Now a lamp is wholly in darkness, even though it be filled with oil or tow or other combustible matter, until it receives fire and is kindled… The man whose soul's lamp is still in darkness, that is, untorched by the divine fire, stands the more in need of a guide with a shining torch who will discern his actions.




3422 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 339, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








N or should you circulate in search of famous monks, nor inquire into their lives. Rather, if by God's grace you have chanced on a spiritual father, tell only him about yourself. If not, but as seeing Christ, look always at Him and in all things keep Him alone as the One Who sees your sorrow and affliction.




3421 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : On the Mystical Life : The Ethical Discourses. Trans. Alexander Golitzin. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1996, (Vol. 2), p.95  








C onstantly call on God, that He may show you a man who is able to direct you well, one whom you ought to obey as though he were God Himself, whose instruction you must carry out without hesitation… It is better for you to be called a disciple of a disciple rather than to live by your own devices and gather the worthless fruits of your own will… So, brother, do as we have said, and go to the man whom God shows you, either mystically in person, or externally through His servant.




3420 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 232, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








P aul says that those who are still alive will be lifted up to the clouds where they will meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thess. 4:17)} … in every way endeavor to be lifted up even but a little from the earth. Should this wonderful thing happen, which would astound you, that you should float up from the earth into the air, you would not at all want to descend to the earth and stay there! But by "earth" I mean the fleshly mind, by "air" the spiritual. Once the mind is set free from evil thoughts and through it we contemplate the freedom that Christ our God has bestowed on us, we shall never again be willing to descend to our former slavery to sin and the fleshly mind.




3419 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses,Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








J ohn tells us that we should neither love the world nor the things of the world. (1 John 2:15-16)} But what is "the world"? What are the "things that are in the world"? Listen! It is not gold, sliver, or horses, or mules. All these things that serve our physical needs we ourselves possess {even though we are monks}. It is not meat, nor bread, nor wine, for we ourselves partake of these things and eat them in moderation. It is not houses, nor baths, nor fields, nor vineyards, nor suburban properties, for great and small monasteries consist of these. So what is the world? It is sin, brethren, and attachment to things and passions…




3418 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, pp. 109-110, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








P eter said that he and the other disciples had forsaken everything in order to follow Christ (Mt. 19:27)} By the word everything he included lands, money, their own wills, to the point of contempt and abhorrence for this transitory life in order that they might taste that life which is substantial and eternal. It is altogether sweeter and preferable; it is nothing else but God Himself.




3417 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 357, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








T he poor in spirit (Mt. 5:3) have no attachment to the things that are present, nor are they even in thought passionately involved with them, not even to the extent of simple enjoyment.




3416 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 52, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








T hose who are ailing do not know these things. Indeed, they do not even understand that they are sick. And who then can ever persuade with argument people thus inclined that they are under the sway of sickness and disease? They imagine rather that it is health to accomplish the wishes of the flesh, and to practise all its lust and desire. And, just as no one will ever make those who are gone mad and deranged take account of the fact that they are insane, just so neither will anyone persuade those who are wallowing in the passions, and ruled by them, and unconscious of their being possessed, that they are in a bad way, and so make them change for the better. For they are blind, and neither do they believe that anyone else can see. Thus they live, deprived of sight and unconvinced they can lift up their eyes.




3415 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : On the Mystical Life : The Ethical Discourses. Trans. Alexander Golitzin. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1996,(Vol. 2), p. 75  








I t is not only he who commits sin who is separated from God and becomes His enemy, but also he who loves it and covets something, or has an attachment in his heart to anything that is on earth. This constitutes friendship with the world (James 4:4). Thus is is clearly proven that, even if one is deprived of everything and commits no sin whatever in action, but merely likes it and favors it and, so to speak, is attached to it, he is an enemy of God. Thus John says, "If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). So the Lord Himself says, "You must love the Lord your God with all your mind and with all your strength and with all your soul" (Mk. 12:30). Therefore he who craves or has an attachment to anything else transgresses this commandment.




3414 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : The Discourses, p. 111, Trans. C.J. de Catanzaro. Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.  








W e think we will receive the full knowledge of God's truth by means of worldly wisdom, and fancy that this mere reading of the God-inspired writings of the saints is to comprehend Orthodoxy, and that this is an exact and certain knowlege of the Holy Trinity. Nor is this all, but the more august among us foolishly suppose that the contemplation which comes to pass only through the Spirit in those who are worthy is the same as the thoughts produced by beir own reasoning. How ridiculous! How callous!




3413 |  Christianity, Orthodoxy
Source : On the Mystical Life : The Ethical Discourses. Trans. Alexander Golitzin. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1996,(Vol. 2), p. 113  






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