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22.12.2017

The view of St. Ignatius on the state of the church society contemporary to him

What to do to those who want to follow the path of salvation and seeks help from the leader? St. Ignatius explains the reason for the spiritual decline of the pastors and gives advice on what will help to go the right way and keep a firm faith. At the same time, the saint does not just reproach the priesthood, but also reveals the consequences of improper relations between lay people and pastors.

ABOUT THE RULE OF SPIRITUAL MASTERS

In the works of St. Ignatius, the problem of impoverishment of true spiritual guides is clearly traced. In many respects this was the result of his personal experience, when he, feeling unity with the teachings of the holy fathers, was in the process of seeking a spiritual guide who could satisfy his spiritual thirst, but he never found it. At the same time, this was also his objective assessment of the state in which he was today pastorship.

While in search of a way out of this problem, St. Ignatius offers some ways to help fill the lack of zealous leaders of spiritual life.

Firstly, St. Ignatius constantly advises in his instructions how to resort to Holy Scripture and patristic wisdom as often as possible, being the only and faithful leaders in the spiritual life against the background of a general impoverishment of the true shepherds of the Church.

The feat of obedience in the ideal, about which the holy fathers write, is in our time practically impossible because of the absence of those truly spiritual mentors who can lead on the path of obedience.

These sources, faithfully leading along the path of a charitable life, can at any moment render the necessary assistance to a person. He wrote: "Reading the paternal writings, by diminishing the Spiritual Mentors, has become the chief leader for those who wish to be saved and even achieve Christian perfection" [1]. Saint Ignatius confirms this idea of ​​the impoverishment of true instructors by the thoughts of the holy fathers who also point to this problem existing at different stages of church history: "The main feature that distinguishes the activity of ancient monasticism from the activity of the newest one is that monastics of the first centuries of Christianity were guided by God-inspired mentors, and now, "observes the Monk Nil of Sora according to other later Fathers," monastics should most be guided by the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers, because of the extreme impoverishment of the living vessels of Divine Grace. "[2].

For those who wish to follow the path of salvation as a follow-up to the tradition of the Church, St. Ignatius cites the words of the holy fathers who "command the wishing to live godlyly and beneficially by directing the instruction of the true teacher, or directing the writings of the father, corresponding to the way of life of everyone. After the lapse of eight centuries from the Nativity of the Church, holy saints of the Church begin to complain about the scantiness of spiritual mentors, the appearance of many false teachers. They are commanded because of a lack of mentors, to turn to reading the fatherly writings, to move away from reading books written outside the bowels of the Orthodox Church "[3].

The true danger of St Ignatius was the appearance of various false teachings and temptations, which he asked to beware.

At the same time, Saint Ignatius, as well as holy fathers, distinguished the ways of leading laymen and monks. He wrote that laymen should "be guided in life by the Gospel and those holy fathers who wrote instructions for Christians in general, as St. Tikhon of Zadonsky did." Monks, he said, should also "be guided by the Gospel and the Holy Fathers, who composed the works proper for the monks. A monk guided by the Fatherland scriptures in every monastery will have the opportunity to acquire salvation: he will lose his life by his own will and in his reason, even if he lived in the deepest desert "[4].

Continuing the idea of ​​leadership of the monks, he notes: "What does monastic virtue mean - obedience? Monastic obedience flourished with the abundance of spiritual mentors. With the impoverishment of his mentors, the great feat of obedience also depleted, soon leading ascetics to holiness: the faith that constituted the essence of this feat requires that its object be true and spiritual: then it leads to God. Faith in man leads to frenzied fanaticism. The guidance of the writings of the Holy Fathers is much slower, weaker; in the way of this much more stumbling: a book written on paper can not replace a living human book. A wonderful book - mind and heart, covered with the Holy Spirit! so does life breathe from her! so this life is communicated to the hearers with faith. But the leadership of the paternal writings has become the only guide to salvation in the final poverty of the mentors. Whoever submits to this leadership, one can be considered already saved; whoever is led by his own understanding, or by the teaching of false teachers, must be recognized as dead "[5].

So, St. Ignatius sees the solution to the problem of the absence of true leaders of spiritual life, above all, in the careful study of the Holy Scripture and the patristic heritage of the Church.

The next thing that St. Ignatius says with sorrow, continuing the theme of the impoverishment of mentoring and spiritual life, is that the deed of obedience in the ideal about which the holy fathers write is in our time practically impossible because of the absence of those truly spiritual mentors, They can follow the path of obedience: "Your desire is to be perfectly obedient to an experienced mentor. But this feat is not given to our time. He is not only in the middle of the Christian world, not even in monasteries. The mortification of reason and will can not be committed by a person of the soul, even if it is kind and pious. For this, a spiritual father is necessary: ​​only the soul of the disciple can be exposed to the spirit-bearer; Only he can see where and from where the spiritual movements of the one instructed by him are directed "[6].


Also, pointing to the impoverishment of spiritual mentors, he notes that yet this impoverishment is not absolute. As true shepherds existed at all times in the life of the Church, they were also in the era in which Saint Ignatius lived. They just became a rarity and not all are available. An example of this is the fathers of Optina in the desert: "At the present time - an essential need for proper prayer ... She is an essential, unique leader in our time to salvation. There are no mentors! The best, how many are known, the Optina teachers "[7]. And those who are fortunate enough to find a spiritual mentor, the saint advises him to address him only on matters of importance in spiritual development: "Attend the cell of your mentor and spiritual father if you are so happy that in our times he has found a mentor; and then attend in a timely manner and at the request of the need, and not from gloom and for idle talk "[8].

A shepherd who knowingly acts incorrectly on the flock, must find the strength to consciously renounce the method of spiritual guidance that he incorrectly chooses.

The next council is taught by the saint to those who in modern conditions can not resort to saving leadership, but seeks to live a special profoundly pleasing life. He, as a teacher of repentance, writes: "With the terrible poverty of our time in the tutors of true prayer, we will elect a headscarf and mentor for ourselves. He will teach prayer, and guard against self-delusion. All those who rejected the crying, excommunicated him from his prayer, fell into self-delusion. This is confirmed by the Holy Fathers "[9]. That is, the saint draws attention to the need for constant remembrance of his sins, about every minute attention to himself, and shares the experience of his mentors: "I recognize as my sacred duty to inform you of the wise advice that I heard from experienced, respectable elders. They also spoke to laypeople and monks seeking sincere salvation: "In our time, in which temptations have multiplied, one must pay special attention to himself, not paying attention to the residence and works of his neighbors, and not condemning the tempted: because the corrupting action of temptation conveniently passes from the enthusiastic a temptation to condemn them "[10].

Against the background of the decline and impoverishment of the pastoral leadership, Saint Ignatius considered the appearance of various false teachings and temptations, which he asked to beware: "The further the times deviated from the phenomenon in the land of the Divine Light, the more the lack of true saints was strengthened, the abundance in false teachers increased; they have flooded the earth since the opening of printing, like a flood, like bitter apocalyptic waters, from which many people died of mental death "[11].

Summing up some results, we summarize the foregoing with the words of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov: "Our time is given another feat, coupled with many difficulties and stumbles. We had to travel - no day, no sunlight, and at night, with the pale light of the moon and stars. We are given to the leadership of the sacred and holy Scripture: this is directly spoken by the Holy Fathers of later times. With the guidance of Scripture, the advice of others, those who themselves are guided by the Scriptures of the Fathers, is also useful. ... Our feat has a price before God: on our scales are weighed both our infirmity, and our means, and circumstances, and the time itself. Some great Father had the following vision: before him the earthly life of men was portrayed by the sea. He saw that the ascetics of the first times of monasticism were given wings of fire, and they were carried like lightning through the sea of ​​passions. The ascetics of the last times were not given wings: they began to cry on the seashore. Then they were given wings, but not fire, but some weak ones: they rushed through the sea. On their way, because of the weakness of the wings, they often plunged into the sea; with difficulty getting up from it, they again started the path, and, finally, after many efforts and disasters, flew across the sea. Let's not lose heart! we will not recklessly strive for brilliant feats exceeding our strengths, we will accept with reverence a humble feat, very appropriate to our infirmity, as if evidently visible by the hand of God. We will accomplish this feat with fidelity to the holy Truth - and among the world, with a noisy, countless crowd, striving along a broad, lengthy path following the self-willed rationalism, we will walk to God along the path of narrow obedience to the Church and the Holy Fathers. Do not many people follow this path? As for that! Savior said: Do not be afraid, little flock: for your Father has graciously granted you a kingdom. Narrow the narrow gates: as if a lengthy gate and a wide path lead into perdition, and many are the things that enter into them. That the narrow gate and the narrow path, enter into the stomach, and there are few of them, are acquired by him (Luke 12: 32; Ms 7: 13-14) "[12].

ABOUT INTIMATE RELATIONS BETWEEN THE PASOMES AND MENTORS

Above we touched on the problems of spiritual leadership in the modern Saint Ignatius time associated with the practical lack of a true example of inspired inspiration. The consequence of this was not the proper relationship between the flock and the mentors. Because there were such ministers of the church who brought people not to Christ, but became idols themselves for the flock.

In the letters of His Eminence Ignatius, we can find valuable instructions concerning the relationship between pastors and their flocks. And the first thing he warns about is the danger of the predilection of the flock to his mentors: "Your heart belongs to the one Lord, and in the Lord and neighbor. Without this condition, it's scary to belong to a person. Do not be a rabbi, "said the apostle ... as long as the carnal feeling prevails in the disciples," their teacher is great before them; But when there is a spiritual sensation in them and Christ will be exalted in them, they see in their mentor only the beneficent weapons of God. Stay safe from your predilection for a mentor. Many did not watch out and fell with their mentors to the devil's network. Council and obedience are pure and pleasing to God only as long as they are not contaminated by addiction. Addiction makes a loved one an idol: from the sacrifices brought to this idol with anger God turns away. And life is lost in vain, good deeds die, like fragrant incense, carried by a strong whirlwind or drowned stink by smell. Do not give any idol to your heart "[13].

The best leader in the spiritual life of a Christian is following the patristic writings, and whoever submits to this leadership can be considered already saved, and whoever follows his own understanding or the doctrine of a false teacher can be considered dead.

"Attachment gives into the power of the soul that attracts the soul of believers. From the fanatical faith, the bound one is determined to do everything that is acceptable to his idol: to follow him even on a heretical or sectarian path. With dogmatic hardness, the shepherd, attracted to himself, can fall into self-conceit and seeking glory and, with its weakening, suffer "[14].

As we can see, the saint clearly sees the danger of nominating in the religious life the personality of a pastor, an advance which will give birth in his flock to a desire not for a charitable life, but only for attachment to himself. A shepherd who knowingly acts incorrectly on the flock, must find the strength to consciously renounce the method of spiritual guidance that he incorrectly chooses. With the partial attachment of the flock, the shepherd must fight decisively and skillfully. Their love, important in the work of salvation, the shepherd must direct from himself to God and the Church. A person tied to the identity of his shepherd is already determined to do whatever his idol tells him. Many even begin to walk, following their pastors, on a heretical and sectarian path. Similarly, following excessive attachment to their idol, believers begin to slowly cool down towards God and the Church. The sermons or conversations of the shepherd dear to them become more important to them than prayer. And here it is possible to point out the following danger, pointed out by Saint Ignatius, speaking about the improperly developing relationships between the pastors and their flocks. And it consists in seizing the power of the shepherd over the spiritual children entrusted to him by God. The saint says: "If the leader begins to seek obedience to himself and not to God, he is not worthy to be the leader of the neighbor! He is not a servant of God! Servant of the devil, his tool is a network! "[15]

Those who come to the priesthood must test themselves and their heart, whether it responds to the words of Christ, which the apostle Peter asks: Do you love Me? shepherd my sheep, and whether it answers with the apostle Peter: Lord, You know that I love You (John 21: 15). And also he must honestly admit to himself: for the benefit of whether a sheep comes into the sheepfold, and has a belly, or for its own gain, "steal and kill and destroy (John 10: 10). If, with the first intention comes, it can be called a shepherd, if the latter is, then none other than a thief and a robber [16].

Further, he more specifically notes this problem: "Every spiritual guide must be only the servant of the Bridegroom, he must lead souls to Him, not to himself, he must tell them about the infinite, ineffable beauty of Christ, about his infinite goodness and strength: let them love Christ, as if worthy of love. And the mentor, let like a great and humble Baptist, stands aside, recognizes himself for nothing, rejoices at his belittling to disciples, the depreciation that serves as a sign of their spiritual prosperity. And you, the teacher, be protected from the beginning of sinful! Do not replace for the soul, to you resorted, God Himself. Follow the example, the holy Forerunner: only seek that Christ be magnified in your disciples. When He is magnified, you will be deceived: seeing yourself diminished by reason of the growing Christ, be filled with joy. From this behavior, a wonderful world will be borne on your heart: in yourself you will see the fulfillment of the words of Christ: humble yourself, be exalted "[17].

The archpastor saw clearly that there were very few true teachers, even in his time. And knowing the great responsibility of those to whom Christians entrust their lives, he warned everyone who assumes the responsibility of being a mentor not by vocation: "It is a terrible thing to accept self-indulgent duties that can be performed only by the command of the Holy Spirit and by action Spirit, while the dialogue with Satan has not yet been dissolved and the vessel does not cease to desecrate by the action of Satan! Such hypocrisy and hypocrisy is terrible! It is disastrous for you and for your neighbor, it is criminal for God because it is stupid "[18].

The disastrous nature of the wrong leadership is that the shepherd, who is not experienced in the spiritual life, directs the life of the flock along the path on which he himself stands. And if he stands on the wrong path, he will also guide the other along this path, because, according to St. Ignatius, obedience forms the one to whom he obeys. The pastor, who is ahead of the flock, must instruct not only where to go, but also how to follow the path indicated by him. An example of his virtuous life, he will act better and stronger. But he must not forget that his personality should not be overshadowed in the eyes of the flock of Christ. Again, the reason for such a state in church society, St. Ignatius sees in the impoverishment of the true shepherds of the Church. Therefore, he again and again points out that the best leader in the spiritual life of a Christian is following the patristic writings, and whoever submits to this leadership can be considered already saved, and whoever follows his own understanding or the doctrine of a false teacher can be considered dead. Christians who seek salvation and do not find the true leader, the saint advises: "Do not tire yourself in vain to find mentors, our time, rich in false teachers, is extremely meager in spiritual guides. They are occupied for the ascetic of the writings of the Fathers. Try to find a good, conscientious confessor. If you find him, and so be pleased, now conscientious confessors - a great rarity "[19]. And if, after finding such a confessor, someone starts to notice some shortcomings in him and this is embarrassed, he gives such advice: "Holy Fathers command the monks to remember the virtues of their abbots, often reflect on their laudable deeds, and pay no attention to the shortcomings , as on knots, in comparison with which our infirmities are logs. True repentance and true humility - they are invisible to people - reconcile your soul with God and your fellowmen "[20].

And here we have come to talk about the image of the true shepherd of the Church, which passes through all the works of St. Ignatius, and to which, first of all, he himself follows. On the one hand, pointing to the impoverishment of the spiritual mentors who are able to lead along the saving path, St. Ignaty simultaneously portrays the image of the shepherd to whom they want to follow Christ. And as has already been said, he not only talks about this, but also with his own example shows that it is possible. But we'll discuss this topic in more detail in the next article.


[1] Prelate Ignatius (Bryanchaninov). Creations: in 7 t. - T. 1: ascetic experiences. - M: Sretensky Monastery Publishing House, 1998. - S. 113 [Reprint].

[2] Ibid. S. 83.

[3] Collection of letters of St. Ignatius (Bryanchaninov) / Comp. hegumen Mark (Lozinsky). - M.-SPb .: Publishing House of the Center for the Study, Protection and Restoration of the Heritage of the Priest Pavel Florensky, 1995. - S. 437.

[4] Prelate Ignatius (Bryanchaninov). Creations: in 7 t. - T. 1: ascetic experiences. - M: Sretensky Monastery Publishing House, 1998. - S. 495 [Reprint].

[5] Collection of letters of St. Ignatius (Bryanchaninov) / Comp. hegumen Mark (Lozinsky). - M.-SPb .: Publishing House of the Center for the Study, Protection and Restoration of the Heritage of the Priest Pavel Florensky, 1995. - S. 438-440.

[6] Ibid. S. 441.

[7] Ibid. S. 776.

[8] Prelate Ignatius (Bryanchaninov). Creations: in 7 t. - T. 1: ascetic experiences. - M: Sretensky Monastery Publishing House, 1998. - S. 206 [Reprint].

[9] Ibid. S. 165.

[10] Ibid. S. 495.

[11] Collection of letters of St. Ignatius (Bryanchaninov) / Comp. hegumen Mark (Lozinsky). - M.-SPb .: Publishing House of the Center for the Study, Protection and Restoration of the Heritage of the Priest Pavel Florensky, 1995. - S. 238-239.

[12] Ibid. 448-449.

[13] Ibid. 440-444.

[14] Bishop Benjamin (Milov). Pastoral theology with ascetic: Lectures. - Moscow: Publishing house of the Moscow metochion of the Holy Trinity Sergius Lavra, 202. - S. 146.

[15] Collection of letters of St. Ignatius (Bryanchaninov) / Comp. hegumen Mark (Lozinsky). - M.-SPb .: Publishing House of the Center for the Study, Protection and Restoration of the Heritage of the Priest Pavel Florensky, 1995. - S. 303.

[16] About the posts of presbyters parish. - M .: Sretensky Monastery, 2004. - S. 17

[17] Collection of letters of St. Ignatius (Bryanchaninov) / Comp. hegumen Mark (Lozinsky). - M.-SPb .: Publishing House of the Center for the Study, Protection and Restoration of the Heritage of the Priest Pavel Florensky, 1995. - S. 448-449.

[18] Prelate Ignatius (Bryanchaninov). Creations: in 7 t. - T. 5: ascetic experiences. - M: Sretensky Monastery Publishing House, 1998. - S. 73 [Reprint].

[19] Ibid. S. 334.

[20] Ibid. S. 234-235.

A source: Sretensky Theological Seminary

Author: Priest Pavel Mironov

Tags: Religion, Christianity