Father Boris Bobrinskoy continues his discussion of the fourth chapter of The Compassion of the Father on “The Prayer of the Heart and Suffering” by pointing out that Jesus Christ is the living and permanent reference for our prayer. Entering into his prayer necessarily means entering into the prayer of the heart, for

As long as the heart does not pray, the human being does not pray. There is no other way to have recourse to Jesus – not only to find strength in Him, but so that He may come into us; so that He may pray in us; so that it is no longer we who live but He who lives in us. As He is in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is in Him, so in us, may the Holy Spirit sigh and call, “Abba, Father.” (91)

Following Jesus means learning to offer our own hearts, for closed hearts are not acceptable to God.

All our actions, all our words – even the most noble – reach neither others nor God if they are not preceded, accompanied, followed, and interiorized by this oblation of the heart. It is when the heart opens itself, when it ceases being hardened, when it fortifies itself with the spirit of compassion, that it is able to fill itself with the misery of the world. In the prayer of the heart, and in the public prayer of the eucharistic Liturgy, the Last Supper, the Church intercedes for the needs of the world. This intercession must be made in the most general but also the most concrete manner possible, by evoking surrounding needs and difficulties. There is also continuity, a continuation of the public Eucharist in the prayer of the heart, which the Fathers view as an inner Eucharist. The two are indeed of the same nature. (91-92)

Father Boris then proceeds to discuss the example that Saint Sergius and Andrei Rublev give in this regard, citing Brother Daniel-Ange’s book on Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity:

What a contrast between this icon and this epoch marked by war, famine, epidemics, and heaps of smoking ruins! Brother Daniel-Ange wonders, “How many were these eyes, who have seen so many children massacred, innocents tortured, so many churches devastated, nameless dramas, able to project a light so serene? These hands must have wiped tears and bandaged innumerable wounds: How were they able to paint these faces from which flows such peace? In his icons, how does the anxiety of such an epoch not show through?”

If so many horror scenes had not traumatized St Andrei, it is because, undoubtedly very early, he discovered this face on so many tortured faces (there eyes were gouged as was the custom). Having been washed by the tears of his Lord, his eyes ended up embracing all distress, with a look that was able to understand, to commiserate. This look saves because it flows from an unnameable commodity: the tenderness of God. One of these looks may appease, console, and heal, not because it would be closed to the ugliness and sadness of the world, but because, by contrast, it goes to the end of the horror. These wide eyes of Jesus cried as no one has ever cried, but also granted a luminous forgiveness previously unknown on earth. (92-93)

To be continued…