Hermitage where famous Mount Athos monk Josif Isihasta spiritually struggled.
Our Merciful Lord Christ, everlasting thanks to You for making it possible for us, sinners, to illuminate the darkness of our sinful souls on the day of the Martyr Teodot Ankirski. We exalt the Glory to You, Jesus Christ, our only God and Ruler, for shining down on us, and for enlightening us through ur devoted servant, Archimandrite Gabriel Vuckovic. Abbot of the Monastery Lepavina, our ever forgiving and Yoever merciful father Gabriel, with his merciful voice continued to read the book “EVENING IN THE DESERT OF MOUNT ATHOS”, the spiritual chapter titled “GOD’S SHINING ECLIPSE”, written by Archimandrite Jerotej Vlahos.
Who, substantially, is the only true light? GOD. The shiniest light is love. GOD IS LOVE. In the Holy Scriptures it has been established that God is love, which means that love is the shiniest of all virtues (John 4:8). Christ is the light of light, which is evident in His communication with disciples. When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12).
Opposite to love there is yet another virtue – the purity (purification); it is used for cleansing of souls darkened by sins; the eyes, a vision obstructed by the layer of residue, are best cleansed with a natural remedy – crying. One, who wishes to see and visit lakes of the second baptism should cry as much and as often as possible, because Father in heavens, who knows and sees everything – WILL FORGIVE. We have to confess all of our sins, and we have to ask forgiveness so that we can see the light which guides an unquenchable aspiration of every Christian – the shining eclipse. Moreover, St. Grigorije pointed out that cleansing and enlightening are two dependant virtues. In the process of building up and outbuilding of a spiritual life, replenishment and movement are unavoidable.
God’s light goes beyond all knowledge one searches for. There is no human sense which does not react to it. One gradually approaches the light by, firstly, seeing a thin light, which leads to the great light. Regarding this, it is necessary to point out the standpoint of St. Grigorij Nilski, who refers to the Christian Orthodox doctrine. Considering the standpoints of Orthodox Saints, it is necessary to state that GOD specifically and only appears in the form of LIGHT.
It is necessary to add the point of view of Christian Orthodox fathers about the significance of light; therefore, the point of view of Dionisije Retorkit must be included; he writes about the fair minded light in which he sleeps. The mentioned light is, actually, invisible because of its beauty and perfection. St Vasilije the Great wrote about Godly eclipse; he believed that the eclipse is only where God is, and not inside of God. This point of view ensures a reader that the power of unmade light is much greater then the natural light. However, people participate only in creation of an unmade God’s energy, so they are deterred from participating in an essential energy exchange.
Saint Apostle Paul showed all of his exaltation for an unmade light by glorifying the God while loudly proclaiming: the King of kings and Lord of lords (Timothy 6:16). Godly eclipse is predominant compared to the unmade and natural light. Monk, who starts to pray, covered with Godly eclipse and led by the light, starts saying the Prayer within God’s perception; this prayer is same as the JESUS’ PRAYER, since one who prays experiences the joy due to the presence of Jesus Christ. Godly eclipse does not interrupt or stop the prayer. Isak Sirin believed that prayer should be compared to seeds, whose fruit can be enjoyed only after the harvest is completed. During the prayer, monks can be in a state of God’s Saturday (Saturday of a mind). At that point, soul deserts all jobs. It cries. This is the state of peace in which one acknowledges the most blessed – THE GOD WITHIN GOD. Soul is in an unmade energy, and salty tears which erode the face of a monk, leave a trace…the trace which is never forgotten…the trace of a soul’s Godly destiny.
Saint Simeon Bogoslov warned that those who are not capable of seeing the LIGHT here and now, during his life, certainly will not see it in the future. Every man, who do not tend to clear a sinful soul, can not expect a soul’s salvation and departure to the Heavenly Kingdom. By God’s Will, individuals were gifted to see the great light, which they joyfully embraced as the most delicious food, and which they never tasted before. The ultimate goal of a man is to, by getting closer to God’s essence, enter the shining eclipse itself.
Saint Grigorij Nilski’s explanation based on an example of God seeing Moses, pragmatically elaborates this case in point. Light always precedes the shining eclipse. For example, when three disciples saw a tiny light on Tavor Mountain; then, God’s blessing, when shining for the first time in a presence of men, spreads out in different degrees. During the first encounter, the so-called great light appears and after that, the second, greater intensity light appears. If one tries to come closer to God’s essence, one will realize that the light can not be perceived; Holy Fathers call this phenomenon – SHINING ECLIPSE.
1. Moses promised to take his people to the Promised Land. However, when Moses saw the God in eclipse, he rejoiced because of the appearance of an infinite light, and Creator invited him to step into the God’s incombustible blackberry bush.
Second example was explained by Saint Grigorij who emphasized the following.
2. One who saw the light for the first time, became free of chains of darkness, and one decided to spiritually mature and improve. Do you notice the analogy between this man and his archetype Moses. Just as Moses saw the God in eclipse, and as he understood the Godly perception, so do all of his descendants, coincidently.
This, contemporary point of view is controversial to Epiphany, according to which the Godly is measured by external criterion within the external world. The core of a modern Godly essence is only and solely GODLY ECLIPSE. Precursor of today is the MIND, which, as a probe, penetrates the core itself; it travels to the bottom while destroying all obstacles ahead just so that it can reach the Godly eclipse, which is its true goal. Above all glorious and unstoppable futuristic penetration of a mind is the only valuable, honorable and true – Godly dimension which one is not capable of comprehending. I do not know people that are braver than monks. They are the closest to God, and they are reachable by men too.
Lord Jesus Christ, you who are our shiniest light, cognition above all cognitions, we pray to you, and glory to you in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, have mercy on monks and give them what you promised:
1. the light
2. heart filled with joy
3. residence illuminated by godly holiness
4. blessed prayers
5. light in which You are born, Holy God, our Lord, Jesus Christ – WHO LOVES THE TRUTH.