Hesychast wisdom bears witness to the uncreated light of wisdom and glory in the sanctuary of the heart, restoring access to mysteries that have the capacity to renew Holy Orthodoxy in every generation. Saint Sophrony the Hesychast bore witness to the mystery of the Holy Name, ‘I AM,’ uncovering depths of enlightened first-personhood in the Name, a witness that has been catalytic for Hesychast wisdom in recent decades. The Name opens the eye of the awakened heart in three principal ways, deep turning, profound seeing and deifying being, inspiring elders to transmit Hesychast mysteries to saints with decisive, intuitive insight. Elders point to the Name as purifying way, enlightening truth and deified life, uncovering the ineffable capacity of grace to open hearts and nourish holy lives. Hesychast wisdom purifies hardened hearts in the power of Christ’s resurrection, enlightening blind hearts through the renewing energies of his ascension, deifying pierced hearts through the uncreated energies of his glorification. This threefold unveiling gives to Orthodox Christian wisdom an integral Christocentric unfolding of three great turns into light: purification, illumination and deification. The saving Name includes all three dispensations of grace, but distinguishes them in accordance with the differing developing capacities of the human receptacle.
Saint Sophrony’s insight into the Name renews Hesychast tradition in all three grace-filled dispensations, and although purification continues to be the main concern of the vast majority, illumination takes centre stage for some and glorification for the few who practice turning as both deifying seeing and being. The fact that Holy Orthodoxy continues to revere Orthodox saints gives to it unbroken access to their Hesychast wisdom, through saints like Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Maximus the Confessor, Saint Symeon the New Theologian and Saint Gregory Palamas, among many others. Saint Sophrony the Hesychast was the disciple of Saint Silouan the Athonite on the Holy Mountain where Hesychast wisdom had been handed on for well over a thousand years. Holy Orthodox tradition imparts wisdom with a fullness that transcends the capacity of even the most advanced individuals, a fullness in Christ that saints continue to point to in ineffable, inexplicable ways. This gives Holy Orthodoxy depths and heights that ensure the wholesome Catholicity and Holiness of Orthodoxy, even in times when the majority generally falls far short of this fullness.
Ineffable heights of wisdom and depths of glory are widely ignored in these conventional circles but glory continues to abide alight and alive in the mysteries of stillness practiced in the desert by Hesychast saints. This is due to the Spirit’s unceasing prayer in the hearts of desert saints rather than individualistic feats of ascetical achievement, which always fall far short of the completeness of mysteries of glory. The living heart of Orthodox Hesychasm is no mere human achievement but Christ in the Spirit’s unceasing prayer and intercession in the saints, inspiring elders from generation to generation. The Name lies hidden at the heart of this wisdom, opening wisdom to glory in catalytic ways, wisely appropriate for each generation. Saint Sophrony the Hesychast bore witness to these mysteries in Saint Silouan the Athonite, renewing the tradition even in largely inauspicious times. Wisdom remains unceasing in its capacity to make all things new, but hallowing co-operation with its generous grace is indispensable. Grace opens glory to deeper glory by unveiling the Name, releasing wisdom that awakens the eye of the heart, restoring glory, through Christ, in the Spirit, to the Father, regenerating Hesychast wisdom at the heart of Holy Orthodoxy.