The Uncreated Light
Archimandrite Ephraim, the abbot of the Skete of Saint Andrew on the Holy Mountain
Question: Archimandrite Ephraim, could You tell us something about the Uncreated Light?
Answer: The Fathers of our times say that Christ made the sun extremely bright so that all could take part of the light. Also, the many novas and supernovas outside our planetary system shine so brightly that all the created and vast universe is full of light.
Man, however, was not satisfied with only the light of the sun, with the small light particles. He also invented the electric light in order to make the night be as the day is. As an invention, as a discovery of technology, as a development of science, the electric light is good and beneficent. However, this unquenching desire of a man to enjoy constant electric light so that he would not have to spend a moment in darkness in some way conceals in itself the idea that we have totally forgotten the existence of the Uncreated Light.
When Saint John of Damascus in his Pascal canon writes, ”Now all things have been filled with light, both heaven and earth and those beneath the earth”, he reveals to us that the Uncreated Light always illumines everything, that all people bathe in the Uncreated Light. Our Christ is present everywhere and so is His mercy and so is His Uncreated Light. We must also intepret the words of Christ about Himself, ”I am the Light of the world” (Jn 8:12), according to this, because by those words He does not mean the created sunlight but the Uncreated Light. This is how we teach in Church and this is also how we believe.
The problem with the Uncreated Light, however, is in us – the Orthodox Christians. It is in the sight of our souls, ie. in our minds. Is the mind able to see or does it squint; does it see things upside down, in the wrong light, or does it perhaps see things insufficiently, or has it possibly gone all blind? In the Holy Gospel Christ reveals to us the way to see that light, He gives within our reach the hidden key when He says: ”Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8), that is, in Uncreated Light. Ascesis after ascesis and struggle after struggle is needed so that we can conquer the bad thoughts that bother us exceedingly. They do not bother us because we are still extremely bad, but the devil, full of envy, bombards us constantly and whips us without mercy, without feeling pity. This happens especially to young people who feel attraction to other young people. That is why the devil digs his claws especially into them, both men and women, so that not a single Orthodox Christian could personally experience the Uncreated Light.
When we carry out virtues in our daily lives and without murmuring endure and with an attitude of thankfulness face the illnesses, temptations, slanders, falsehoods and machinations of our neighbors against us, then the conditions for seeing the Uncreated Light are fulfilling. And at the moment when our Christ wants, a person living in this way gets an experience of this Uncreated Divine Light.
"Do not separate yourselves from Christ and from the Church; home and foreign missions in the Orthodox Church"* - seminar in the Lay Academy of New Valaam 26.05.2002
(*”Kristuksesta ja Kirkosta älkää etääntykö; sisä- ja ulkolähetys Ortodoksisessa kirkossa”)