Co-inherence of Prophecy and Prayer

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Prophecy and prayer co-inhere without confusion or division because prophecy is the way of the affirmation of images and prayer is the way of the negation of images, both of which are fundamental and indispensable in Holy Orthodoxy.   Pure prayer transcends images but the prophecy of prayer employs images, as the Book of Revelation proves.  Imageless prayer is union with the uncreated beyond images, but as prophecy, the uncreated is creative, creating icons that communicate the uncreated to creation in creation.  The co-inherence of prophecy and prayer is the co-inherence of affirmation of images and negation of images, integrating the incomparable and all-embracing mysteries of union.  This difference lay at the heart of Plato’s Parmenides, which the desert incorporated into its wisdom as the way of the inclusion of images and the way of the exclusion of images, the way of created immanence and the way of uncreated transcendence.  In the East, Saint Symeon the New Theologian wrote prophetic ‘Hymns of Love’ and imparted pure prayer’s imageless union with God.  In the West, Saint John of the Cross was prophetic as the patron saint of poets, and contemplative as the Carmelite saint who taught imageless contemplation.  

In the desert, wisdom imparted the co-inherence of prophecy and prayer without confusion or division, consistent with the wisdom of Christophanic and Theophanic Trinitarian co-inherence.  Prophecy arose out of the uncreated creativity of wisdom, which stillness imbibed as the imageless creativity of uncreated glory.  Wisdom and glory co-inhere without confusion and division, communicating the co-inherence of prophecy and prayer.  The mystery of exclusive and inclusive co-inherence lay at the heart of Holy Orthodoxy as a whole, not the wisdom of desert Hesychasm alone.  Prophecy and prayer co-inhere in this iconic comparability and apophatic incomparability, adorning Orthodox churches with icons and frescos, to pray in them with imageless contemplation.  Pure prayer is not an iconoclast heresy and orthodox iconography is not an idolatrous heresy.  Wholesome Orthodoxy has always embraced them both, so never lets them destroy each other in a war of mutually destructive heresies.

In Byzantium, the Holy City, like the desert, embraced prophecy and prayer, including sacred images, whilst excluding images in imageless contemplation.  Saint Symeon the New Theologian revered his elder with sacred images whilst following his elder in the transcendence of images.  His ‘Hymns of Love’ are co-inherent, as was the wisdom of Saint Denys, whose ‘Mystical Theology’ transcended images but whose ‘Divine Names’ included them.  In the West, icons were not revered in the same way as in the East, but statues were, whilst the silence of pure prayer was contemplative.  Everywhere, prophecy regenerated the imagination to support prayer, whilst prayer purified the imagination by transcending it with imageless contemplation.  Everywhere and always, prophecy and prayer embrace each other in a holy co-inherence.  They abide together in the Holy of Holies as a union of wisdom and glory.  Imageless wisdom conjoins with imageless glory, having united prophecy and prayer with many wholesome images.  Prophecy and prayer embrace in the Bridal Chamber of the Holy of Holies, sacred images in imageless union, infused with wisdom and glory.