Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ignatii Bryanchaninov

One of the best summaries of the Orthodox patristic tradition of prayer is contained in the works of Bishop Ignatii Bryanchaninov (1807-1867), a nineteenth-century scholar, theologian, and saint. Having studied the works of both Eastern and Western saints in their original languages, Ignatii was also known as a man of prayer, and his writings breathe not only of academic vigor, but of personal practical experience as well.

Bishop Ignatii certainly acknowledges that there are visions from God which are shown to those “who are renewed by the Holy Spirit, who put off the old Adam, and put on the New.”

“Thus,” he writes, “the holy Apostle Peter during prayer saw a notable sheet descending from heaven. Thus, an angel appeared to Cornelius the centurion during prayer. Thus, when Apostle Paul was praying in the Jerusalem temple, the Lord appeared to him and commanded him to immediately leave Jerusalem…”

But he categorically forbids seeking or expecting such “supernatural states”…

The praying mind must be in a fully truthful state. Imagination, however alluring and well-appearing it may be, being the willful creation of the mind itself, brings the latter out of the state of Divine truth, and leads the mind into a state of self-praise and deception, and this is why it is rejected in prayer.

The mind during prayer must be very carefully kept without any images, rejecting all images, which are drawn in the ability of imagination… Images, if the mind allows them during prayer, will become an impenetrable curtain, a wall between the mind and God.

No comments:

Post a Comment