St. Symeon: “… first seek to learn and experience these things in fact…”

St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022) excoriates the church clergy for not personally being contemplatives and experiencing the presence of God (theoria) themselves before trying to lead and teach the laity.  This criticism is just as valid for the institutional church today as it was for the Byzantine church in AD 1000.  Few, if any, of the contemporary institutional clergy practice contemplative Christian prayer.

St_ Symeon the New Theologian“You priests and monks teach others with vain words and think that you are rulers – but falsely!  Ask your elders and high priests, gather yourselves together in the love of God, and first seek to learn and experience these things in fact, and then have the will to see this and by experience become like God.  Be anxious not merely to act a play and wear the garment thereof and so to approach apostolic dignities.  Otherwise, as you in your imperfection rush to rule over others, before acquiring the knowledge of the mysteries of God, you will hear these words, ‘Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and shrewd in their own sight!  Woe to those who put darkness for light and light for darkness!'” ~ Discourses, XXXIII

 

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