Toward the Era of the 8th Day – Seeing the Father: Purification, illumination and the day of the Lord

After becoming purified, “God no longer comes to us as before without appearance and without image . . . He comes under a certain image, and yet it is the image of God . . . [He makes] Himself seen in His simplicity, formed out of formless, incomprehensible, ineffable light . . . He makes Himself seen clearly, he is perfectly recognizable, He speaks and hears in a way that cannot be expressed. He who is God by nature converses with those whom He has made gods by grace, as a friend converses with his friends, face to face. He loves His sons as a Father; He is loved by them beyond all measure. He becomes in them a wondrous knowledge, a dreadful hearing. They cannot speak of Him as they ought, nor can they any longer keep silence” (Symeon the New Theologian, Sermon, 90. Ed. of Mount Athos, II, pp. 488-489).

The aforementioned paragraph is a very apt and accurate description of what it is like to see and become intimate with God the Almighty Father. It is a grace available to all Christians, according to Symeon the New Theologian, because it is part of baptismal grace. However, “grace must be received not only in the sacrament . . . it must be actualized, lived, and hence it must manifest itself and become perceptible in our spiritual life” (Lossky, V. 1973. The vision of God, 148). In fact, Lossky maintained that “we cannot be truly Christians without having had the experience of light, a conscious communion with God” (p. 149). For “God is light, and those whom He deems worthy of seeing Him see Him as light; those who have received Him have received Him as light” (Symeon the New Theologian, Sermon, 79, 2; Ed. of Mount Athos, II, pp. 318-319).

The Life Review

Meanwhile, “in the present life, when by repentance we enter freely and voluntarily into the Divine Light, we find ourselves accused and judged; however, by divine charity and mercy this accusation and judgment is made in secret, in the depth of our soul, for our purification and the pardon of our sins. It is only God and ourselves who see then the hidden depths of our souls. Those who undergo such a judgment in this life need no longer fear another trial. But for those who do not wish to enter into the light out of this world in order to be accused and judged, for those who hate the light, the second coming of Christ will reveal the light . . . and will make plain all that had been secret” (Symeon the New Theologian, Sermon, 57, 2; ibid., II, p. 37).

The vision of the Divine Light, therefore, in part is “a judgment, it is also the parousia already present for those who are living in communion with God, for the experience of the Uncreated Light transcends the limit of created being; it is a departure out of time and space toward ‘the mystery of the eighth day’” (Lossky, V. 1973. The vision of God, p. 150). For “those who have become the children of Light and sons of the day to come . . . the day of the Lord will never come, for they are already with God and in God. Therefore the day of the Lord will not appear to those who are already illumined by Divine Light, but will be revealed suddenly to those who live in the darkness of passions, to those who live after this world, attached to perishable goods. To such people this day will appear suddenly, unexpectedly, and it will be for them terrible – like unbearable fire” (Symeon the New Theologian, Sermon, 57, 2; Ed. of Mount Athos, II, p. 37).