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Category: St. Symeon the New Theologian

Hierarchy vs. Anarchy

by Andrea Elizabeth

In light of the two previous posts on St. Dionysius’s hierachy, despite the title referring to Bishop Alexander, and St. Symeon’s individual conscience, Bishop Alexander (Golitzin) discusses the tension in Hierarchy vs. Anarchy.

“Jan Koder, editor of the Sources chretiennes edition of Symeon’s Hymns, wonders how for example Nicetas could have placed himself in the “paradoxical position of defending simultaneously both the anarchical mysticism of Symeon and the unilateral theoritician of hierachy,”┬áDionysius.

…Father John’s [Meyendorff] emphasis on what we might call the “charasmatic principle” is certainly one clue to Symeon’s conscious use of Dionysius, but there are others as well. I have in mind particularly the note of “apostolic authority” struck above and, even more importantly (and never mentioned in the literature), the idea of the hierachy – and so the whole Church at worship – as the icon of the inner man. The latter is a notion that has common roots for both Symeon and Dionysius in the Macarian and Evangrian writings….”

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Individual conscience

by Andrea Elizabeth

From St. Symeon the New Theologian, On Faith, Philokalia, Vol IV, translated by Palmer, Sherrard, and Ware.

“so the elder gave him the work of Mark the Monk, On the Spiritual Law. This the young man accepted as though it had been sent by God Himself, and in the expectation that he would reap richly from it he read it from end to end with eagerness and attention. And though he benefited from the whole work, there were three passages only which he fixed in his heart.

The first of these three passages read as follows: ‘If you desire spiritual health, listen to your conscience, do all it tells you, and you will benefit.’ The second passage read: ‘He who seeks the energies of the Holy Spirit before he has actively observed the commandments is like someone who sells himself into slavery and who, as soon as he is bought, asks to be given his freedom while still keeping his purchase-money.’ And the third passage said the following: ‘Blind is the man crying out and saying: “Son of David, have mercy upon me” (Luke 18:38). he prays with his body alone, and not yet with spiritual knowledge. But when the man once blind received his sight and saw the Lord, he acknowledged Him no longer as the Son of David but as the Son of God, and worshipped Him’ (cf. John 9:38).” (page 16,17)