Monday, June 29, 2020

Theophan the Recluse

Theophan the Recluse (1815―1894) is an Orthodox Bishop of Tambov and Shatsk ― which are cities in modern day Ukraine and Russia. He is known for his books about the spiritual life, and for contributing to the translation into Russian of the Philokalia, which is a collection of writings from early church fathers.

He had been appointed rector of Kiev’s church schools, and then of the seminary in Novgorod. Later he served as chief priest of the embassy church in Constantinople. Eventually Theophan was recalled to Russia to become rector of the Petersburg Academy.

In 1866 he chose to live a life of reclusion to concentrate on undisturbed communion with God. Through his many books, he continued to teach. He encouraged the use of established prayers, to help believers know how to pray.

Descend from your head into your heart

You must descend from
your head into your heart.
At present your thoughts of God
are in your head. And God Himself is,
as it were, outside you, and
so your prayer and other spiritual
remain exterior. Whilst you are still
in your head,
thoughts will not easily be subdued but
will always be whirling about, like snow
in winter or
clouds of mosquitoes in summer.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.