Saturday, September 13, 2014

Come down from the cross

No matter where I have been, in solitude or in human society, light and consolation pour forth into my soul from the cross of Christ. Sin, which has possession of my entire being, does not cease to say to me, ‘Come down from the cross.’

Alas! I come down from it, thinking to find righteousness outside of the cross, and I fall into misery of soul: waves of agitation swallow me. Having come down from the cross, I am found to be without Christ.

How can I help my calamitous state? I pray to Christ to raise me up unto the cross again. As I pray, I myself try to be crucified, as one taught by experience: he who is not crucified is not Christ's.

Faith raises me up onto the cross; reason, falsely so called, full of faithlessness, brings me down from it. As I myself act, so do I advise my brothers to act!

What else shall I add? I will add, ‘Blessed is the man that endureth temptation’ (James 1:12). ‘In that He Himself (Jesus Christ) hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18).

I desire that these words of Holy Scripture be realized in you. And you—be consoled! Do not be fainthearted because you have been conquered in warfare. This is unto spiritual skill or experience, and for humility. Peace be unto you!

I will say in addition ; the general path of ascetics is, through practicing patience among men, to heal the infirmity of the senses, to see God's Providence, and to enter into mental prayer.

Someone else, by God's Providence, enters therein by another way, but we should go by the common path. Read about this in Homily 55 of St. Isaac (the Syrian) to St. Symeon the Wonderworker.

Some find that solitude is the shortest means to spiritual success, while others say that love for one's neighbor leads to spiritual success.

My heart likes the latter more, because love for one's neighbor is the indispensable duty of each one, while not many are capable of stillness.

— From The Collected Letters of St Ignatius Brianchaninov (Russian), Moscow,1995. This translation was published in Issue Nos. 270-71 of The Orthodox Word pp. 91-92, St Herman Press, Jan-April 2010.

“Remember who your teachers were…”
2 Timothy 3:14

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