09/16/2009, 00.00
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Pope: a spiritual leadership is needed for all, especially for the young

Illustrating of Simeon the New Theologian, Benedict XVI stresses the importance of his reflections on the mystical experience of God. True knowledge of God comes not from books but from spiritual life. Love of God makes us consider over selves brothers and invites us to respond to hatred with love, to offenses with forgiveness.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - True knowledge of God comes not from books but from a spiritual life, a journey that begins with conversion, but in order "to go towards the Lord we need a guide, dialogue, we cannot do it on our own”, and “this is also the sense of the Church”. This invitation to find a good spiritual father, Benedict XVI believes "is valid for everyone: priests, consecrated persons, lay people and especially young people".  

Simeon was a monk from the East, who centred his attention on "experience of the mystical union with God." Born in 949 in Galati in Asia Minor, he was from a noble family.  When he was young he moved  to Constantinople, to serve at the Emperor’s Court. However he was “not attracted” to public life, instead he looked “for a person to orientate him in moments of doubt and perplexity. " In 977 he entered the monastery of Studion, placing himself under the leadership of Simeon the Pious, to whose teaching he remained bonded for life.  He wrote that he had always followed his instruction: "If you seek spiritual healing be attentive to your conscience, all that it tells you to do you must do, and you will find something useful in it." He entered the monastery, but from there went to the monastery of San Mamos, where after three years, he became the guide.

 That was the Pope’s call to 8 thousand people present today in the Paul VI hall for the general audience, during which he outlined the figure of Symeon the New Theologian. 'It’s interesting to note - said Benedict XVI - the name of the ‘new theologian’ despite the fact that the Eastern tradition reserves the designation of theologian only for John the Evangelist and Gregory Nazianzen.  

He suffered “incomprehension and exile”, but was restored by Patriarch Sergius II. He died in 1022.  

In the nine volumes of his works, said the Pope, Simeon deals in particular with communion with God. "He insisted that true knowledge of God comes not from books but from the spiritual life, born of a journey of inner purification that begins with conversion”, and that passes through "sincere repentance for sins in order to achieve union with Christ, source of joy and peace". Simeon said that the experience is not restricted to mystics, but "possible for every seriously engaged faith". So the New Theologian "calls us all to the spiritual life, the secret presence of God in us, to the purification of conscience, so the Holy Spirit becomes present in us and guides us."

Returning to the mystical experience of Simeon, at the presence of "light", the Monk “wondered if it was not an illusion, but one day he began to feel like a poor man who loves his brothers, he saw around him many who wanted do evil, but he still felt love for them". He realized that this "could not flow from him but from Christ and everything became clear, the source of love came from Christ".  

"The love of God - the Pope said – grows in us if we stay close to Him through prayer and listening to the Word and only God's love makes us open our hearts to others and makes us sensitive to their needs, making us consider all brothers and sisters and inviting us to respond with love to hatred with forgiveness to offense”.

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