Purification of the Heart

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Awakening of the eye of the heart purifies the heart with limpid clarity, clarifying awareness with luminous lucidity.  A pure heart is an illumined heart, awakened by the Spirit to the luminous eye of wisdom, wisdom that abides in the luminous presence of uncreated glory in the midst.  The Syrian Oriental Orthodox tradition speaks here of luminosity (shaphyuta), which Saint Ephraim calls ‘limpid purity’ and Saint Isaac the Syrian says is the light of luminous faith which leads to spiritual knowledge.  The spiritual prayer of the Paraclete enlightens the heart but also overshadows it with Spirit-inspired trust, extending the Son’s knowledge of the Father, by grace of the Holy Spirit, to the saints.  Elders never forgot that purification of the heart was the priceless pearl that reveals the Kingdom of God.  It is the living flame that consumes confusion and heals division, spiritual diseases which infect the heart with impurity.  The unceasing prayer of the Spirit in the heart is initially hidden in mystery until wisdom dawns and discerns the glory of the Spirit’s presence, praying in the midst.  It is the Spirit’s unceasing prayer which prays ‘Abba, Father,’ in the heart, opening it to the ineffable mysteries of the Son’s timeless union with the Father.  It is the Spirit’s prayer in the heart which reveals the timeless glory of the Kingdom in the midst, not discernible by the created faculties of the soul but discerned by wisdom in the Spirit.

Orthodox Hesychasm treasures the hidden mysteries of the Spirit’s intercession in the heart, the Spirit’s unceasing luminosity, hidden as mystery, revealed by wisdom, ensuring the Spirit’s ineffable illumination of the heart from within.  Wisdom discerns the Spirit’s unceasing prayer of glorification because wisdom is itself the Spirit’s gift of filiation in the Son, restoring glory to the Father.  The Spirit glorifies the Son, whose glorification of the Father cleanses the heart of all impurity, not just once, or initially, but always, again and again. The Spirit’s unceasing prayer in the heart is hidden mystery until wisdom discerns it unifying awareness and uncreated presence, conjoining luminous presence and uncreated awareness in the midst.  This is the Spirit’s grace of deifying communion, inwardly sustained by the union of wisdom and glory, unceasingly at work with Christ for our salvation, for Christ is wisdom and glory, present in his uncreated energies, purifying the heart.  The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness, unceasingly interceding for us with ineffable groans and sighs (Rom 8:26-27).  This prayer of the Spirit in the heart is often overlooked by the praying mind when it is totally preoccupied with its own audible praying.  It is unrecognised by the divided mind obsessed with its repetition of long, verbal prayers, because even though the Spirit comes mystically unto his own, his own receive him not.  But the Spirit’s unceasing intercession does not waver in the midst, being God’s own God-centred glorification of God, receiving on our behalf what is ours, until we are able to make it our own.

Glorification is the term elders use to indicate what happens when the illumination of the heart truly embraces luminous purification to the point of becoming aware of the Spirit’s unceasing presence in the midst, praying ‘Abba, Father,’ with every breath.  The Son’s prayer is also, of course, unceasing, calling upon the Father to glorify the saints, but it is the Spirit’s unceasing prayer which awakens the heart to these mysteries of spiritual adoption by grace, mysteries of hallowing filiation in the Kingdom.  Glorification was always at work in the midst but was hidden within purification and illumination until wisdom discerned the glory of the Spirit’s unceasing prayer of intercession.  This indicates that glorification is simply making explicit what was mystically implicit until purification and illumination were able to open beyond temporal duration to the timeless glory of the Age to Come.  They know in part until wisdom knows as the Spirit knows, face to face with the Son.  Glorification unveils the Spirit’s unceasing prayer by unveiling the Face of glory in the Son, revealing the glory of the Father through the Son.  Gratitude gives thanks that the Spirit’s unceasing prayer has this hidden power and glory, capable of purifying and illumining the heart to the point that both purification and illumination rise together with Christ into his glory, unveiling the mysteries of glorification.