St Ignatius Brianchaninov: Have You Ceased Studying the Gospel?

Feast of St. Macrina, Grandmother of St Basil the Great

Brianchaninov_Square_2.jpegTHE HOLY Fathers declare that “anyone who truly wants to be saved should first live with people and endure annoyances, slights, privations and humiliations, and be freed from the influence of his feelings and senses, and only then go into complete solitude or silence. This our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated even in His own case. For it was only after enduring all this that He finally mounted the Holy Cross, which means the mortification of the flesh and passions and holy and perfect peace” (Directions for the Spiritual Life by St Barsanuphius the Great and St John the Prophet, Answer 108).

You can be certain that you will succeed everywhere, both in a coenobitic monastery and in a state-endowed foundation, if you occupy yourself with the study and practice of the commandments of the Gospel. On the other hand, wherever you go you will always remain without success and without spiritual understanding, you will always come to a state of self-deception and spiritual confusion and disorder, if you neglect the study and practice of the evangelical commandments.

Never cease studying the Gospel till the end of your life. Do not think you know it enough, even if you know it by heart. The Lord’s commandments are exceedingly broad (Ps. 119.96), even though they are expressed in few words. The Lord’s commandment is infinite, just as the Lord who uttered it is infinite. The practice of the commandments and progress in them is unlimited. The most perfect Christians, brought to a state of perfection by divine grace, remain imperfect in regard to the commandments of the Gospel.

~St Ignatius Brianchaninov, The Arena


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