“It is presumptuous of me but I think that St. Paul never forgot how he had ‘persecuted the Church of God’ [1 Cor. 15:9] and been blasphemous and a wrong-doer, and in his agony of repentance he was ‘caught up to the third heaven’. I remember that I felt my apostasy from Christ to have been a vile crime against His love. I had known this love in my early childhood: He had vouchsafed me to live it. When I repented of my madness prayer swept me into another world. So it is when we recognize our benightedness – when the infernal essence of our sin is revealed to us, then we become receptive to the action of grace, be it as illumination by uncreated Light or some other form of being ‘caught up’, of knowledge or revelation.
The Fathers tell us that to be aware of our sin is a gift from heaven greater than a vision of the angels….”
Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), We Shall See Him As He Is