Prophetic Image : Imageless Prayer

      No Comments on Prophetic Image : Imageless Prayer

Prophecy imparts holy images, inspiring imageless prayer of the Holy Spirit in the  heart, the Spirit’s unceasing intercession for all in the hidden heart of Christ.  Prophecy has nothing to do with self-centred fantasy or self-obsessed day dreams, but with the purified imagination regenerated in the heart by the glory of grace, prophecy working together with imageless prayer to deify the saints.  The holy conjunction of cataphatic affirmation of holy images and apophatic negation of images is a co-inherent union that does not reduce affirmation to negation or negation to affirmation, but holds together what might otherwise fly apart.  After the great schism between East and West in 1054, glorification began to disintegrate, severing the affirmation of images in Saint Bernard’s Song of Songs from Eckhart’s transcendence of images, Dante’s affirmation of images in the Divine Comedy from the Cloud of Unknowing’s negation of images.  In Holy Orthodoxy, affirmation and negation were united but not confused, held together in Christ with the Spirit’s imaginal prophecy and unceasing prayer.  Prophets of prayer in Holy Orthodoxy were not divided by the disintegrations of the schism but continued to unite images with imageless vision in ways that nourished prophetic imagery with imageless contemplation.

The conjugal union of imaginal prophecy and imageless prayer in Holy Orthodoxy served to renew the communion of wisdom and glory, inspiring prophecy and prayer.  King David’s ‘Psalms’ and King Solomon’s ‘Song of Songs’ affirm images whilst the Spirit’s unceasing prayer transcends images, providing Biblical inspiration for affirmation of images whilst maintaining mystical negation of images, the integral foundation of the Spirit’s regeneration of images.  Glorification is integral in Holy Orthodoxy, glorification that embraces both prophecy and prayer.  The temple lent its images to prophecy whilst wisdom plunged prayer into imageless theoria, the imageless noesis of profound metanoia, which wondrously unveils theosis, deification.  The Holy of Holies and the Bridal Chamber with the sevenfold menorah, were all temple images, but the hallowed land also lent images to prophecy, images of the garden of paradise restored.  The earthly heaven of the temple was wedded with the heavenly earth of paradise in the uncreated imaginal realms of prophecy, which were safely preserved from idolatry by the purifying glorification of imageless prayer.

The Orthodox icon or holy image adorns the temples of Holy Orthodoxy in which imageless prayer is nurtured and nourished, reminding Orthodoxy that image-affirming prophecy belongs together with image-transcending prayer.  Prayer of the psalms affirms images whilst Hesychast stillness transcends them, ensuring a wholesome co-inherence that holds extremes in tension but does not disintegrate into heretical extremism.  Initiates begin with the affirmation of images, with prophecy that initiates pure prayer, but hermits retire into the desert to glorify the imageless mystery of the Holy Name.  In the west, when Dante was no longer understood, the Cloud of Unknowing was often misunderstood as well, leading to extremes that easily degenerated into mutually exclusive heresies.  Since Christ and the Spirit never stray from their wondrous communion with the Father, wisdom and glory do not fall into heretical extremes of warring iconoclasm or satanic idolatry, ensuring that images of uncreated glory in the Church do not stray into disintegration either.  God includes both imaginal and imageless mysteries among his uncreated energies, grounding wholesome prophecy and prayer, securing both images and imageless vision within realms of uncreated wisdom and glory.