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Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Light of Christ...

"In Your light we shall see light."

Man thirsts for enlivenment, inspiration… For a lamp to shine, the presence of transparent glass is not enough, there must be a candle burning within there is a need for a candle to burn within him. This is what the Lord did with His apostles: first, having purified them with truth, He enlivened them with the Holy Spirit, and only then did they become a light for the world.

This process is inevitable for every Christian. First, a cleansing by Truth and then enlightenment by the Spirit. Truth repudiates the inborn inspiration as something ludicrous; it deadens it so that the Spirit, having come, will resurrect him in a renewed form. If a person, before he is cleansed by truth, begins to be guided by his own inspiration, will begin to emit, not a pure light, but one that is tainted and polarized by a filter of his own damaged heart, where good is interspersed with evil.

The soul is lonely in this world and seeks the source of true, meaningful life and renewal outside it. At times the soul locks itself in, becomes introverted, lives inside its own world, and there, finds light.
The fundamental characteristic of the inner world or the emotional life is a troubled soul, an unceasing search for light and joy. A constant ebbing and flowing of the tide, striving, lifting up and being dropped to the ground, — calling like shadows of a spring dawn, and without hope, like the twilight. Flashes of lightning of partially solved mysteries and a bitter feeling of futility of all efforts…
"The beloved pierces the mind with a ray of his own light, and instantly flees from the fast traveling mind. The more it becomes aware, the more it distances itself, wrenching itself from the hands, beckons and draws the soul to follow" (Gregory the Theologian).
"All sensations of my mind and soul concentrated on the indescribable pleasure seeking and joy from that ebullient light. But when that immeasurable light appeared before me and then diminished little by little, and finally became invisible, I then came to my senses and found out what wonders the power of this light had suddenly created in me…. That light when it comes, brings joy and when it disappears, leaves a wound and an ache in the heart" (St. Simeon the New Theologian 86th sermon).
"When I see the increasing malady of the tongue nowadays, fast evolving sages, newly created theologians, for whom it is sufficient to only want to become wise: then I feel a need for wisdom from above and I search with Jeremiah "a lodging place for travelers " (Jeremiah 9.2) and I want to be alone, by myself… Denying the flesh and turning back on the world, and only in dire need succumbing to anything human, communing with God and oneself, to live above the visible; always to have divine images in the mind, pure ones that are not jumbled with distant and deceptive impressions; to be and unceasingly become an untainted mirror of God and of the divine; to accumulate more light to an existing light, to a light less clear, a beaming one, until we ascend to the Source of that radiance and reach a blessed end…" (Gregory the Theologian, pt. 2).
Perception of light, in the experience of visions of an "inner light" are as real as perceptions of physical light. In the written works of the saints quite often we read that they perceived this immaterial, Divine light. At times it appears so powerful, that it emits light to the outside and is perceived as physical light, making the body of the ascetic radiant. Spiritual beauty is a blinding beauty of a radiant, light bearing image, incomprehensible to mortal beings.
The face of abba (=father) Pamvo shone like lightning, and he was like a king, sitting upon his throne…" Before the repose in the Lord of abba Sisoi, when the holy fathers were gathered around him, his face shone like the sun…. A passerby encountered abba Siluan and seeing that his face and body shone like an angel, fell on his face… One brother having come to a monastery, looked through the door of abba Arseny’s cell and saw that the starets was, as if ablaze. Motovilov said to Saint Seraphim: "Father I cannot look, because flashes of light are gushing out from your eyes. Your face has become brighter than the sun, and my eyes are aching with pain…"
The wondrous Fire that was burning inside St. Sergius attracted those people who had seen him, at least once. During the singing of "To Thee we sing," the fire came down "as if from the sky, and moved on the altar engulfing the whole altar and surrounded St Sergius as he was serving the liturgy. While he was partaking of the Holy Sacrament, the divine light descended into this chalice. Something similar had also occurred in the life of the starets (elder) hieromonk Ambrosy. To some extent there was an illumining in the face of Bishop Theophan the Recluse and the righteous St. John of Kronstadt. Father John stood before the Lord as if before the sun and feeling an ineffable brilliance of the divine light, closed his eyes, and clearly felt himself to be in the rays of this light and from them he felt warmth, joy and closeness to Christ the Savior… From the grace of God his face was beautiful, like that of an angel, and one wanted to gaze at him… Sin perverts man but grace luminously adorns him… The Holy Spirit lives in us and makes us resemble the Lord Jesus Christ, just like children resemble their father.
There had been many emissions of inner light of ascetics of the 6th century and recorded in "The Spiritual Field" and in the lives of the saints. The heritage of the holy fathers on the divine light is enormous. This amazes us and unspeakably gives us joy. In it, is Christ’s concerned love for helpless people… However, there is no Mt Tabor without suffering, and there is no support for one’s spirit, outside contemplation of Christ.
Know the Lord and His likeness will reflect in you and it will not allow darkness to overpower you, to bind you like a sinner until eternity, deprived of the ability to do good. Let deathly horror and sanguine sweat and the Lord’s suffering pass before your eyes. When you look at Him, He who endures suffering, will look at you and will do with you, what He did, at one time, with Peter, you will "go and begin to cry bitterly…"
The Gospel is the fullness of the Revelation. It is — the sun, in comparison with which, other holy books are only planets, that shine with reflected light. There, God prophesied with the mouths of prophets. Here, the Son of God, Himself, converses with us — God-man, whose whole life was the revelation of light. "I am the light of the world" (Jn.8:12).
He is not just a bearer of light, but is Himself — Light, incarnate, light of the Hypostases. Whoever believes in Him, knows through experience, that he owes his inner enlightenment to this universal light, as much as in the physical world, he owes it to the sun. Christianity is not only a religion of love, but also of light. Christ taught the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, teaching about the laws of an eternal, divine life, of the "inner light" as a spiritual life, of one being God-man. In so much as the soul is more precious than the body, the inner or spiritual life is more important than the outer, physical life. Conversely, the inner, spiritual darkness is more dangerous, more perilous, more horrific than the black of the night, or blindness. Whoever loses the inner sight, forfeits with it the eternal, divine life, to which light belongs, just as it is in the physical life (Jn.1:4).
Enlightenment of both the body and soul is only necessary within the parameters of space and time. Meanwhile, what is the point of examining infusorians under the microscope and not even once glancing into one’s own soul? What joy is there in using electricity and never seeing the sun’s rays during the day? Inner, spiritual light, not only enlightens, but it also enlivens. The quantity of inner light will always be proportionate to the level of our spiritual growth. Abundance of spiritual light is conditional upon some great feat. We are convinced of this because of the examples and teachings of the saints, who embodied these, together with spiritual excellence and a vivid brilliance reaching an outer radiance, the brilliance of the "inner light."
Mysterious is the nature of spiritual light. The essence of this light is divinely incomprehensible. In its ultimate revelations, the inner light is Divine Light. It reveals the mysteries of the past and the future. It brings one to an understanding of religious truths, speculations, ideas… In its unfathomable essence, the Divine Light is superior to any soul. It is inherent in the spiritual world, as a whole. A pure heart, a brilliant mind, a sensitive conscience- are only ways to contemplating it. In its own right, it is "a great mystery of godliness" (1Tim.3:16).
You, O Lord are all sweetness, all light and life. Enlighten us with the light of Your Divine wisdom. Glorify us with Your Divine power and abandon us not, we who depend on You.
From the Spiritual Treasure Trove of Archpriest Nikolai Deputatov.
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