Prophetic wisdom and prayer of the heart

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The unceasing prayer of the Holy Spirit in the heart gives thanks to God for wisdom which inspires prophecy, wisdom which communicates the Holy Name as a prophetic word awakening the eye of the heart, wisdom that glorifies the Father through the revelatory Name of the Son in the Holy Spirit.  Prophecy speaks to the hearts of those who have not yet awakened to prayer of the Holy Spirit in the midst, which is why the Apostle Paul, speaking of prayer in the common life of the Church, values prophecy above silent prayer of the heart (2 Cor 14:5).  However, the gift of prophecy and the gift of unceasing prayer belong together in glorification of God, wisdom unveiled through God’s Name, ‘I AM,’ glory revealed in the Spirit to the glory of the Father.  But without illumination, there is no purification of the heart and so no awakening to the Father through the Son and no prayer of the Spirit through the Son glorifying the Father.  Scripture is fulfilled by the word of prophecy that awakens prayer of the Holy Spirit in the heart.  Glorification is not therefore an achievement which invites self-centred self-obsession preening itself on its spiritual superiority, but humble awareness of presence that is unceasingly present to humble awareness, wisdom’s awareness of glory that nurtures and sustains unselfish love.

The Day of the Name ‘I AM’ is timelessly ever-present as the Day of Pentecost when prophecy awakens seers to prayer of the Holy Spirit in the heart, fulfilling the word of the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28).   Saint Peter prophesies that Joel’s prophecy is fulfilled when Pentecost awakens prophecy in all.  The Day of the Name is the Day of the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost, the Spirit’s glorification of the saving Name ‘I AM,’ the Spirit’s hallowing of this Name that saves, inspiring all who call upon this Name ‘I AM’ with their whole heart (Acts 2:20-21).  Prophecy cannot be taught by imparting spiritual information or interpreting the letter of Scripture literally.  It is nurtured by illumination in the Spirit and nourished by glorification of God through God, in God.  Glorification is taught by glorifying God’s Name in the Spirit, spiritually, and it is this glorification that inspires prophecy, this glorification that inspires prayer of the Holy Spirit in the heart.  Desert wisdom bears witness to glorification as the inspiration of prophecy and prayer, but is never tempted to confuse glorification with academic distinction or intellectual achievement in theological academies or Universities.  Pentecost is the source of Desert wisdom, wisdom that inspires prophecy, prophecy which is received and assimilated by prayer of the Holy Spirit in the heart.

All indirect reflections of God leading as ways or means toward God fall away when the glory of unselfish love dawns in the heart.  Words and concepts of God are stilled when wisdom unveils love’s glory in the midst.  But  the moment that glory becomes once again a memory, illumination holds recognition of wisdom and glory steady through the remembrance of God.  Faith and hope, although indirect and so unable to contribute anything to wisdom’s direct awareness of glory, do bear witness to wisdom and glory as remembrance of God in his Name once the indirectness of separation begins to fall short of love’s glory once again.  Separation is acute suffering for the heart that has known direct union but such suffering is actually completed in glorification because in Christ suffering and glorification are inseparable.  Prophecy hands on the Holy Tradition of the Holy Name, awakening prayer of the Holy Spirit in the heart.  Elders impart the word of prophecy that awakens hearts to ‘I AM,’ so that prayer of the Holy Spirit in the heart may assimilate wisdom and glory as co-inherent modes of communion with God.  The Spirit’s prayer is unceasing although prayers said with mind and mouth are not.  Moreover, it is the Spirit’s prayer in the heart that makes us temples of the Holy Spirit.  The desert tradition reveres prophecy by refusing to quench the Spirit which inspires it and by embracing both prophecy and prayer of the heart, which receive it.

Prayer of the Spirit in the heart sustains illumination which is nourished by gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy, teaching, healing, mystical interpretation of scripture and the inspired practice of the liturgical arts such as holy chant, iconography and sacred architecture.  Glorification of God and glorification by God through God are Holy Trinity in action as wisdom and glory, hallowing God’s Name so God’s kingdom comes.  Separation falls short of glory as confusion obscures wisdom, apparently cutting awareness off from presence and presence from awareness, causing confusion that separates wisdom from glory and glory from wisdom.  But divine life is not interrupted by confusion nor is Trinitarian co-inherence obscured by division because delusion can never really destroy what is real.  It can only obscure it by apparently cutting awareness off from presence and presence from awareness, appearing to sever God’s ‘I’ from God’s ‘AM,’ separating God’s wisdom from his glory.  But ‘I AM’ is God’s saving Name and is never divisible into a reified subject opposed to a separate object, in the way that a knower is separated from the known by us when we fall from glory.  This culture of secularising literalism subverts liturgical life by dividing what in God is one.   When Eucharistic participation is no longer an expression of glorification, literal liturgical repetition replaces prayer of the Spirit in the heart instead of supporting it.  Since the letter kills, the answer has always been to return in the Spirit to God, who gives life and renews all things.  This means Pentecost is integral to the revelation of the Name and without the Spirit’s unceasing prayer in the heart, Orthodox tradition ceases to communicate God through God, in God;  it ceases to be revelation of the Holy Trinity.  Holy Orthodoxy ceases to be truly Orthodox when it is no longer right-glorification of God in Holy Trinity.

Desert wisdom has held these mysteries of wisdom and glory in trust for many centuries but monasticism has by no means always kept faith with Hesychasm.  The Spirit’s witness of unceasing prayer in the heart has given rise to prophecy whenever glorification is alive and well.  St Gregory of Nyssa once said that heresy arises when prophecy is neglected and Patristic tradition has always known that prophecy dies out when glorification of the Name in the Spirit is lost.  When purification of the heart is no longer happening, auricular confession replaces it, seeking God’s forgiveness for its loss whilst in fact usurping it.  Illumination and glorification are postponed to a future life after death instead of putting death to death in resurrected Christ-centred life.  Conventional Christian life replaces Covenantal Chrismated life in the Spirit by pushing the Kingdom back into the future, saying the Lord’s Prayer by rote instead of praying it with the heart.  God’s unceasing remembrance of God in God still inspires some branches of desert monasticism, but widespread institutional formalism forgets what this meant, with the result that Hesychast wisdom ceases to inspire many monasteries as well as most cathedrals and parishes.  The dire consequences of exteriorised formalism are so extensive that wisdom’s love of glory and glory’s love of wisdom are almost unrecognised in a secular age that exiles wisdom and persecutes glory.

Desert wisdom still does not die out, however, if the Name is hallowed and the Kingdom comes with light of glory in the midst.  Elders like Saint Sophrony the Hesychast bore witness to God’s Name ‘I AM,’ empowering Hesychast tradition to be renewed by its wisdom so that glorification re-envisions Name hallowing purification and illumination.  This uncovers Christ’s pearl of great price hidden in the midst, which is a treasure capable of renewing desert tradition for generations to come.  But without prayer of the Spirit in the heart, prophecy is quenched and wisdom divorced from glory.  In the Spirit, however, there is no restriction to the openness of wisdom to glory nor division intruding into the ineffable oneness of glory and wisdom.  When glory weds wisdom, confusion dissolves and division transforms into unbroken communion.  Primordial awareness conjoins with original presence so that presence of wisdom opens to timeless glory.  The legacy of the Holy Name overflows as omnipresent wisdom, glorification being the scope of unrestricted right-glorifying awareness.  Wisdom arises gracefully if ways and means are no longer permitted to postpone awakening, leaving glorification of God through God to shine forth as the Spirit’s unceasing prayer in the heart.