Friday, September 18, 2009

On the Pearl of Great Price (WOA Ch. 26; Final Chapter)



Having taken us to the heights of spirituality, that is, continual prayer, Colliander now has us look back on where we have been and where we are now (or will be) if we have walked the path of the ascetics.

“The strange thing has now come to pass that the deeper you pressed into your own heart, the farther and higher you climbed out of yourself. The outward conditions of your life are the same: you wash dishes and care for the children, you go to work, draw your salary and pay your taxes. You do everything pertaining to your eternal life as a person in a society, since there is no chance of leaving it. But you have resigned yourself. You have given away one thing in order to receive another.

“…And if I have Thee, what more do I ask on earth? Nothing, answers St. John Climacus, but ceaselessly praying, silently to cling to Thee. Some are enslaved by riches, others by honour, still others by acquiring possessions; my only desire is to cling to God.

“Prayer, with all it contains of self-renunciation, has become your real life, which you keep up as though only for the sake of prayer. Walking with God (Genesis 6:9) is from now on the only thing that has real value for you, and it includes all heavenly and earthly events. For him who bears Christ within himself there is neither death nor illness or any earthly clamour; he has already stepped into eternal life, and that embraces everything.

“Night and day the heavenly seed sprouts in your heart and grows, you know not how. The earth produces of itself, your heart’s soil, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear (Mark 4:27-28)” (99-100).

For those very few who have achieved inner stillness and purity of heart (among which most of us will never belong), a striking result can manifest itself: the uncreated light. Colliander explains: “The saints speak of something they call the inextinguishable light. It is a light not of the eye but of the heart that never ceases to walk in purity and clearness. It swiftly leaves the darkness behind and constantly strives toward the day’s height. Its constant quality is to be continually purified. This is the light of eternity that can never go out, and that shines through the veil of time and mater. But the saints never say that this light is given to them, but that it is given only to those who have purified their hearts in love for the Lord, on the narrow way which they have freely chosen.

“The narrow way has no end: its quality is eternity. There every moment is a moment of beginning—the present includes the future: the day of judgment; the present includes the past: creation; for Christ is timelessly present everywhere, both in hell and in heaven. With the coming of the One, plurality disappears, even in time and space. Everything happens simultaneously, now and here and everywhere, in the depths of your heart. There you meet what you sought: the depth and height and breadth of the Cross: the Saviour and salvation” (100-101).

Having said this, it is fitting that Colliander concludes in the same way he began the book:

Therefore, if you wish to save your soul and win eternal life, arise moment by moment from your dullness, bless yourself with the sign of the Cross and say: Let me, Lord, make a good beginning, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen” (101).

3 comments:

charlene said...

Father James,
Thank you for this series. Collinder's words were both challenging and inspiring. What does Colliander mean when he says "Christ is timelessly present everywhere, both in hell and in heaven"? And what does he mean by "...plurality disappears,even in time and in space"? Thank you, Father.
charlene

Isabel said...

that we can begin anew every moment! what a blessing! what a gift from God! Thanks for this series on Coliander's inspiring and helpful book.

Fr. James Early said...

Charlene,

I think Isabel has hit the nail on the head!