|St Ignatius Brianchaninov|
From The Field, cultivating salvation
| The doors of my senses have closed. My tongue is silent; my eyes are closed; my ears hear nothing that is outside me. The mind that is clothed in prayer, that has put away the weight of worldly thoughts, descends to the cell of the heart. The doors of the cell are shut; everywhere there is total darkness. The mind, in fear, begins to knock on the doors of the heart through prayer; it stands patiently at the doors, knocks, waits, knocks again, again waits, again prays. There is no answer there is no voice! The deathly quiet and dark are only answered by the silence of the grave. The mind leaves the doors of the heart, saddened, and crying bitterly it seeks consolation. It was not allowed to stand before the King of kings in the sanctum of the inner cell.|
Why, why were you so rejected?
I am marked by sin. The habit of carnal thoughts distracts me. I have no strength within me, because the Spirit does not come to me for help, the all-holy and all-good Spirit, who reestablishes the union of mind, heart, and body that was severed by the terrible fall of man. Without the all-powerful, creative help of the Spirit, my own efforts are useless! He is most compassionate, He is eternally the lover of man, but my impurity does not allow Him access to me. I will wash myself in tears, I will purify myself through the confession of my sins, I will not give my body either food or sleep, which in excess only debilitate my soul. Robed in the cry of repentance, I will descend to the doors of my heart. I will stand there, or sit, like the blind man in the Gospels, I will bear the heaviness and boredom of the dark, I will cry out to the all-powerful One: Have mercy on me!
And I went down, and I stood, and I began to cry out with tears. I became like unto the blind man who cannot see the true, unsetting Light, like unto the deaf and dumb man who can neither speak nor hear spiritually. I truly felt that I was blind, deaf, dumb, standing before the gates of Jericho, the heart that is inhabited by sin. I wait for healing from my Saviour, Whom I cannot see, cannot hear, but to Whom I cry out, though it be a silent cry of my appalling state. I do not know His name, so I call the Son of God the son of David, because flesh and blood cannot give honor to God as God. Show me the way, along which the Saviour walks! This way is prayer, as the Prophet said through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “The sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me; and there is the way, by which I will show him My salvation.”l Tell me, what is the hour of the coming of the Saviour? Is it in the morning, midday, or the evening? “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”2
The way is known, but the time is not! I will go outside the city, I will stand or sit at the gates of Jericho, as St Paul recommends: “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”3 The world is fading; everything in it is inconstant; it is not even called a city, but a camp. I will leave behind my attachment to money that is left behind after death, whether I want it or not, and often even before death. I will leave behind the accolades and honors that die with me; I will reject the pleasures of the flesh that make me incapable of the labors of the ascetic life.
“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come,”4 which will first reveal itself to me in my heart through the mercy and grace of God, my Saviour.
Whoever will not ascend to the mystical Jerusalem with his spirit during this earthly life will have no sure way of knowing that even after the separation of his soul from his body he will be allowed to enter the spiritual Jerusalem. The first serves as the pledge of the second. 5 Amen.
1. Ps 50:23
2. Mark 13:33
3. Heb 13:13
4. Heb 13:14
5. St. Hesychius, The Philokalia, pt. 2, Ch. 4. All the other Fathers write the same.
The Field: Cultivating Salvation. (2016). The Printshop of St Job of Pochaev. Chapter 38