Saint Symeon

Saint Symeon was a great Eastern reformer, teacher, mystic who lived from 949-1022. Symeon was famous in the Eastern Church but has remained for the most part unknown in the west until recently. For Symeon, the mystical life was not to be considered extraordinary. He stressed the conscious possession of grace which he describes as the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit." He writes "He who knows that signs and wonders happen within him is truly a God-bearer."

Symeon felt that the Christian must know that he has received the pledge of the Spirit; or the Son of God has come to earth to unite us to himself consciously through His Holy Spirit. Symeon advised those who had not yet received the pledge of the Spirit to make efforts to obtain it. Symeon apparently ran into conflict with the church of his day for teaching that the church belonged to those who had experienced revelations rather than to ecclesiastical authorities. What mattered in the sacraments was the subjective experience, not the objective action. Tears of compunction were for him a second baptism, more efficacious than the first baptism of water and oil.

Symeon is much closer to Wesley than to the modern Pentecostals who became puritan Calvinistic. The greatest of the Byzantine mystics are full of this light mysticism. When he writes of his own experiences, he speaks again and again of the Divine Light: "fire truly divine," he calls it "fire un-created and invisible, without beginning and immaterial."

In 1099 Symeon was finally condemned by the patriarch and the Holy Synod, and exiled from Constantinople. As an institutution, the traditional Orthodox Church may sanctify Symeon but is only now beginning to accept the great truths that they have rejected from him. This sin of omission has left the church's message sterile and life in the spirit, dead. There is a revival beginning to appear in the Orthodox church and it is to such servants of Jesus as Saint Symeon that they must be revived to.
[66, 31]

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