Revista Studii Teologice


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Elemente pentru o antropologie duhovnicească în gândirea Sf. Simeon Noul Teolog

Autor(i): Nicuşor Sandu
Theological research presupposes clear gnoseological premises that guarantee the validity of any approach. One of the fundamental elements to be clarified in order to legitimize a genuine theological discourse relates to the anthropologic system. The present study aims at identifying a series of anthropology elements, as we find them in the thought of St. Simeon the New Theologian. Why St. Simeon? Because the Orthodox Church deems him a Theologian. We consider that theological research ought to take into account, first and foremost, the opinions expressed by the Church Theologians. St. Simeon the New Theologian counts among the few Church Fathers to refer openly to the direct experience of the Spirit, to the personal relationship with God. His writings are touching through their character as a confession of experiencing God. This was the determinant fact in prompting more thorough research into the way the New Theologian understands these realities concerning the gnoseological and anthropological issues, with the certitude that he is a genuinely spiritual man having direct access to the divine mysteries.
The present study is structured in the following chapters: Ontological data, On the way to perfection, The measure of the age of fullness – spiritual anatomy, Virtues – the work of the Spirit, Christ – the fundamental premise of perfection, The Euharist – the mystery of deification and Knowing and understanding. The anthropologic model St. Simeon proposes is acquired through divine revelation: «Listen to the words of wisdom, understand the depth of mysteries! I moulded clay into a body and breathed a soul into it, not out of My substance, but out of My strength. Understand what I teach you: I said that by My might, I breathed into you a rational, understanding soul, which entering the body like a home was bound to it and receiving the body like a tool, man became one made of two». Man is the crown of creation, made of two parts: a material and a spiritual one. Thanks to the spiritual part, he has the chance of contemplating the divine towards God's glory, on the one hand, while on the other he has direct access to contemplating God's face. By the incarnation of the Word, and the Holy Eucharist, the final premise is created for man to reach perfection. To achieve this end, however, man's contribution is a prerequisite. Guided by his spiritual father, granted to him by God, man progresses on the path to virtue, which is the name given to the result of the work of the Spirit, towards the divine light: «And the soul's virtues are like a matter, which enveloped by the divine light of the Spirit, receives the name of matter, for the Spirit has no name of His own in man. Thus, when man repents and sheds tears, then the Spirit is called water and indeed He cleanses».
The Holy Scripture provides the essential elements for man's spiritual progress. Its authentic understanding is granted by the Spirit of God, Whom man can acquire through obeying God's commandments with tears of repentance. Detached from the world and having achieved a certain degree of deification, man is vouchsafed the divine enlightenment, through which he can grasp the deep senses of the Scripture. The hermeneutic method St. Simeon proposes is, one might say, a traditional one, based on the rational understanding enriched by the Holy Spirit, achieving a spiritual sense, fully in agreement with the rational one. All this is, however, subsumed under the anthropological system proposed by St. Simeon, which evinces essential elements for theological research. On the one hand, we speak of spiritual anthropology referring to the ecclesial body within which «all saints are indeed members of Christ, our God... bound to unite themselves with His body, so that He is their head, and all the saints from the earliest days to the last are His members, for the many should be one body of Christ like a single man»,and thus, «some fulfill the role of hands, working even to this day and doing His will ... others the role of shoulders, carrying each other's burdens, or even carrying the lost ones... others the role of breast, providing the thirsty and the hungry with God's righteousness, the pure water of the word of wisdom and ineffable understanding... », and, on the other hand, of the man proper. Therefore, all those who come to belong to the Church fulfill one of these roles, each of them having a particular work. Christ our God Himself substantiates all these. St. Simeon clearly states that «every man has a specific call», in which one can perform one's duties: «Each man has been given a particular gift and quality according to his worth, which God alone knows, as the Creator of all, in order for them to turn their work to good account. Therefore, every man is capable not in the job he wants, but in the job he was created for».
Referring to the spiritual anatomy and knowing that man was created from the beginning with two parts, a material and a spiritual one, it was fit for him to have both physical, and spiritual members: «a chest, a back, shoulders, arms, hands and neck. And think that the chest is the almsgiving, through which the bosom of lovingkindness bestows abundantly the milk of mercy over the orphans, widows and all others ...the back is the act of taking willingly the burdens of others upon ourselves... the shoulders and arms are patience and composure in trials and troubles, through which and with which hands can also work...».We note that to every member corresponds a certain spiritual work that brings forth virtues, while the head of this spiritual body is Love – Christ our God. Man's entire spiritual evolution and his progress along this way of deification is a permanent cooperation. Even if man is not aware that he is constantly assisted by God, this is an undeniable fact: «And now, once you have grown into an adult and a man, you know as well that I have always been with you, growing inside you, with you and protecting you until you have left all ages behind safely».Christspiritually grows within man, as the man also grows spiritually until he reaches perfection, «mature manhood, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ» (Eph 4, 13). Given the above facts, we consider one cannot talk of authentic theological anthropology within the Orthodox world without referring to the model so clearly outlined by St. Simeon, one of the Church Fathers who the conscience of the ecclesial community retains under the name of Theologian.

Pagini: 133-158