by Saint Ignatius (Briantchaninov)
Do you wish to see the Lord Jesus Christ? Come and see, says His Apostle (Jn. 1, 46).
Our Lord Jesus Christ has promised to be with His Disciples till the end of the world (Matt. 28, 20). He is with them, in the Holy Gospel and in the Sacraments of the Church. He is not for those who do not believe in the Gospel; they do not see Him, being blinded by unbelief.
Do you wish to hear Christ? He speaks to you by the Gospel. Do not despise His saving voice. Turn from the life of sin, and listen attentively to the teaching of Christ, which is eternal life.
Do you want Christ to manifest Himself to you? He teaches you to merit it. He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him (Jn. 14, 21).
You were made a child of God by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism; you were brought into union with God by the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Maintain your sonship, maintain your union. Renew the purity given by Holy Baptism by repentance, and strengthen your union with God by receiving the Holy Mysteries as frequently as possible. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood, says the Lord, dwells in Me and I in him (Jn. 6, 56).
Beware of reveries and day-dreaming, which can make you think that you see the Lord Jesus Christ, that you touch and embrace Him. This is an empty display of puffed up, proud self-opinion! This is perilous self-deception! Fulfill the commandments of the Lord, and in a wonderful way, you will see the Lord within you, in your character and conduct. That is how the holy Apostle Paul saw the Lord within him. And he required this vision of all Christians. Those who had not got it, he called people who had not reached the state proper to Christians. (ep. Gal. 6, 2-4; Ephes. 4; 5, 1-6).
If you like a sinful life and indulge your passions, and at the same time think that you love the Lord Jesus Christ, then His intimate disciple who lay on His breast during the mystical supper convicts you of self-deception. He says: He who says, “I know Him.” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him. But who ever keeps His word, in him the love of God has really reached perfection. (1 Jn. 2, 4-5).
If you do your sinful will, and so break the commandments of the Gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ will number you among those who do not love him. He who does not love Me, He says, will not keep My words (Jn. 14, 24).
Do not rush thoughtlessly to the marriage of the Son of God and to union with Him in old, stinking rags, without looking carefully to your garments, even though you are called to this marriage, to which every Christian is called. The Master of the house has servants who will bind you hand and foot and will cast you into the outer darkness, away from the presence of God (Matt. 22, 11-13).
The servants to whose power the daring seeker of love is delivered are demons, fallen angels; the outer darkness is the gloom or blindness of the soul; the binding of the hands and feet denotes the loss of interior life and capacity for spiritual progress. All self-deluded people are in this state.
Can one who is in a state of self-delusion, in the realm of falsehood and deception, be a doer of Christ’s commandments?
Such will be your state wretched dreamers, who imagine that you are living your earthly life in the divine embraces when the Saviour’s word strikes you: I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of iniquity (Mat. 7, 23).
My true friend in the Lord! Go to the Lord Jesus Christ, draw near to Him by way of the commandments of the Gospel; know Him by them; show and prove your love for the Lord Jesus by putting them into practice. He Himself will manifest Himself to you, and with this manifestation, He will pour into your heart unutterable love for Himself which is something which does not properly belong to fallen man; it is the gift of the Holy Spirit, sent by God solely to vessels of humility and chastity (Rom. 5, 5).
Entrust yourself to the Lord, and not to yourself — that is far safer! He is your Creator. When you were subjected to the bitter fall, He took humanity for you, He gave you His Divinity. And what else has He not done for you? Prepare yourself for His gifts by purifying yourself; that is your business. Amen.
Source: Orthodox Life Magazine, 1950 Vol 1, Jordanville, New York, USA