Part I in a Series by Pseudo-Ermatinger
Soria Moria by Theodor Kittelsen (1881)
Gregory the Sinaite instructed those who desired to pray to take a guide, lest they get lost in the venture. Who then should we take for our guide? There is a two-fold temptation; the first, to chart our course using our wiles or to despair that no sure guide can be found. The first is to wander aimlessly in the dark of hubris and the second is to remain fixed in place blinded by the noonday devil.
If the Sacred Scriptures were before us, would we not with Ethiopian Eunuch say, How can I understand unless someone guides me (Acts 8:31)? How more so will we cry this then when we have learned that which the Sacred Scriptures contain; that is the prophecies and testimonies that the long-promised one, the Christ of God — the full total and complete revelation of the Father, the eternal Logos of the Father — incarnated for all time as Jesus of Nazareth, heir to King David, of the line of Abraham, fulfiller of the prophecy foretold to Eve, the mother of all mankind, has uprooted the curse of Adam, has established for Himself a royal priesthood to drive away the devils of this fallen world, to heal the suffering souls, to bequeath the Holy Ghost, and to lead all who will accept Him into the eternal Kingdom of the Father that has been prepared since before the foundations of the world and to become co-heirs with Him?
Such lofty considerations should have one falling upon one’s face and crying out. If we consider the heights that we are to ascend, and ascend we must, for our home is not here in this valley of tears but rather beyond all mountains high, beyond the veil of the unknowing, where, if we so ascend, we shall see the Father face to face more brilliant than the sun, then we must consider the preparations that we must take make such a journey, the chief preparation being who shall guide us? Should our guide be someone who suggests that we stay here below in the mire of our egoism? Or perhaps one who suggests that it is enough that someone else has so ascended and that we should be content to hear of the Father’s Face? Perhaps the Father will be content with us if we should remain below but bless Him with our words. Should we choose a guide that has never ascended the Mountain of the Lord? How would that help us?
The Sacred Scriptures might be before us as maps, but they are not meant to be simply pondered over day and night without undertaking the journey, as Jesus pointed out (cfr. John 5:39), or endlessly debated over in sundry controversies, but rather if searched, should move one to undertaking (cfr. Acts 17:11-12). The question of the Eunuch remains and it is an impatient question, for, in the presence of the guide, the questions become what prevents us from starting right now (cfr. Acts: 8:36)? The desire to enter into communion with the Father, this is essentially what prayer is, is especially great in the one who first hears of the Good News and it wells up like a spring in one such that it can easily carry one away if one, again, doesn’t have a sure guide.
Perhaps then we must choose an angel as our guide, for they, as messengers of the Father ascend and descend from the Father to the earth (cfr. Gen. 28:12)? But even as each of us has an Angel assigned, their comings and goings are according to the will of the Father. Even as they are ever at our side to light and guard, rule and guide, we are not called to imitate the life of angels but rather we are to be molded into the life of the Body of Christ, to whom the Angels, as older brothers, serve.
Is Christ, whose members we are mystically becoming (cfr. Cor. 12:12–14), not then our perfect guide to the Father? Yes, for he who sees Him sees the Father (John 14:9) and he who has His Spirit has the Spirit of the Father (cfr. John 16:12-15), but at the same time Christ has ascended and taken up His seat at the Father’s right hand (cfr. Heb. 10:12). We who are His brothers are not yet fully formed in Him and born anew into eternal life. In this period of gestation, as it were, perhaps then a thought: If we are to be like Him and formed as Him, we should seek for our guide someone that can lead us to Him, perhaps the very one who formed the humanity of Him, He who created all things and yet became man, incarnate and like us in all things except sin (Council of Chalcedon (451): DS 301; cfr. Heb. 4:15)? If Jesus is the form that we are to take, should we not place ourselves into the care of His mold?