Conclusions of the Conference

Byzantine Orthodoxy, especially since the hesychast renewal of the fourteenth century, has set great store by the contemplation of the uncreated light manifested by the transfigured Christ. Latin monasticism has been more attentive to the injunction of the Father’s voice: “listen to him” in the Word. Both, however, urge the monk and the Christian to enter into the experience of meeting Christ (Guy II the Carthusian, Gregory of Sinai, Silvan of Athos).

All the great spiritual masters of the East and of the West are also in agreement in considering the transfiguration of Jesus and our communion by grace in this experience as far as it is possible in this life as an anticipation of future or eschatological glory. “When it is revealed we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is” (1 Jn 3, 2). Saint Simeon the New Theologian was the singer of the mystical certitude that the fire of love becomes the light of God.

Several questions could be developed further in a more historical approach.

What are the patristic sources of this mysticism of light? The influence of St Gregory the Theologian has been cited. How and by what stages did the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ (6 August) spread in the Byzantine East? Did it first become diffused in Palestine and from there spread to the Byzantine empire?

Finally, why did the Byzantine Orthodox East see especially the vision of Christ’s luminous glory on Tabor as the paradigm par excellence of the Christian mystical experience? Some elements towards an answer have been suggested when a parallel was attempted between St Antony the Great and St Seraphim of Sarov, when the bond between prayer and the orthodoxy of faith as established by St John Damascene was recalled.