The Holy Gospel of grace is hidden with Christ in God in worlds of pride and vainglory, worlds that reject wisdom, but wisdom is revealed in realms of glory that humbly trust the Holy Name to save. Indeed, there is no Gospel of Grace when religion is reduced to individual effort and struggle, when salvation lies in an inaccessible and hidden future. As distant, future reward, grace is no longer the gift of the Spirit in Christ, but reward for right belief and doing right in a present deprived of the presence of grace and glory. Desert wisdom saw what was happening to religion under imperial domination and withdrew into the wilderness to remain free to live the grace of the Gospel as wisdom and glory. To the extent that purification of the heart from pride preoccupied elders, to the exclusion of illumination and glorification, the Gospel of Grace was inevitably postponed even in monastic circles and reduced to a reward for self-interested effort and struggle. But elders who were glorified saints rightly glorified the grace of the Gospel, opening hearts to purification in the grace of uncreated light and to illumined glorification in the Holy Name of God. For them, the Gospel of Grace lay at the heart of the beauty of holiness and was always the golden key that opened to heavenly realms of glory.
The Gospel of Grace gave golden wings to those who drank from the hidden wells of desert wisdom, communicating deifying grace to those for whom glorification was the way of truth, being the path of glorified life. Hidden realms of glory opened whenever wisdom was welcomed home from exile, inspiring saints to sing wisdom songs of the glory of love. Saint Symeon the New Theologian’s ‘Hymns of Love’ were transmitted, however, with great reserve, undoubtedly inspiring Saint Gregory Palamas, but still unread for centuries except perhaps in Hesychast circles that revered Saint Gregory. Saint Symeon’s name was, however, remembered in texts on prayer in the Philokalia, renewing Hesychast wisdom in the monasteries of Saint Paisius and later, the Optina elders in the Russian, forested wilderness. Palamite wisdom inspired Saint Silouan the Athonite and Saint Sophrony the Hesychast, renewing the enlightening radiance of Orthodox wisdom in our own day. The Gospel of saving Grace now flourishes wherever the Holy Name is verily hallowed, giving unceasing sustenance to the practice of illumined glorification.
Where there continues to be ambivalence, however, nominal and conventional circles hold Hesychast wisdom at arm’s length, inevitable when fear is slow to learn from love that the abundance of grace is saving. Ambivalence refuses to release stubborn resistance, leading to fixation on the externals of verbal prayer and deep distrust of prayer of the Spirit in the heart. Genuine illumination, however, gladly releases resistance into wholesome glorification, freeing fear to transfigure into love, liberating the Gospel of Grace to unveil glory to wisdom in enlightened hearts. The unfolding of temporal purification into wisdom’s timeless enfolding of glory, gives illumination spacious capacity to open into glorification. Love’s glory restores doxological wholeness to the purification of the heart, resurrecting the ascended wisdom of Christ among saints, some of whom function as elders, nourished by the wisdom of glory. The enduring glory of the Gospel of grace soundly sustains wisdom’s purification of the heart in uncreated light, regenerating the illumination of desert wisdom with the Spirit’s ineffable glorification.