Feast of Sts Alexander and Antonina the Martyrs
WHILE HE WAS standing in prayer one night, with his own pure intellect communing with the Prime Intellect, he suddenly saw a pure and immense light shining on him from the heavens above, illuminating everything and making it bright as day. He too was illuminated by it, and it seemed that the whole building, along with the cell in which he was standing, vanished and all at once dissolved into nothingness, but he himself was caught up into the air and completely forgot about his body. When this happened to him, as he said and wrote to his confidants in such matters, he was filled with great joy and shed warm tears. He was astounded by the strangeness of this marvel because he was still uninitiated in such revelations, and began shouting out continuously, “Lord, have mercy,” although he only realized this later when he came to himself; for at the time he was completely unaware that he was speaking aloud or that his words could be heard outside his cell.
While he was in the midst of this light, he looked, and behold, in the vault of heaven there was a kind of very bright cloud without any form or shape and full of the ineffable glory of God. And—oh, what an awesome sight!—to the right of this cloud he saw his own spiritual father, Symeon Eulabes, standing in the usual clothes which he wore in life, gazing unwaveringly at that divine light and praying continually. Being in this state of ecstasy for a long time and seeing his own spiritual father standing at the right hand of the glory of God, as he later affirmed and said, he could not tell whether he was in his body at that time or out of his body. Sometime later the light gradually faded and he came back to himself in his body and in his cell. He found his heart was full of unspeakable joy, his mouth was loudly calling out “Lord, have mercy,” as has been said, and he was soaked with tears that were sweeter than honey and honeycomb. From then on he had the feeling that his body had become light and airy as though it were imbued with the Spirit and this lasted for a long time. Such is the effect that purity and divine love produce in those who are good.
—Niketas Stethatos, The Life of Saint Symeon the New Theologian