UNIQUENESS OF THE UNIQUE
Archpriest Sergiy Baranov
Sermon on the Day of the Blessed Xenia of Petersburg
Holy Trinity Cathedral. Iveron Monastery of Orsk
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
Once, a priest asked me how it is possible to serve the Holy Liturgy, read the ectenia, dismissals, and say secret priest’s prayers without losing their meaning and to say the Jesus prayer without ceasing at the same time. And he said the following phrase, “It is impossible to have two thoughts in your mind simultaneously.”
In fact, it is impossible to have two thoughts at the same time, if we do not understand the nature of a soul. Our soul is created by God in such a way that here (in our head) dwells the mind, and here (in our heart) dwells wisdom. Here we reflect on something, but here we give the final assessment. The mind is here and wisdom is there. The mind approaches the object of investigation and analyzes it. The mind considers it from different points and studies it but the final esteem is given by the heart.
You might agree there are cases when the mind breaks everything down for you and everything seems to be correct but your heart isn’t in it. The heart looks somewhere deeper, into subtler states, where the mind cannot permeate. The mind, to its capacity, seems to estimate, reason out and approve everything but the heart says “no.”
Therefore, we should understand that our soul is here (in the heart), and the mind is here (in the head). Why don’t we understand this? Because the wise part of our soul is damaged in its essence and it simply almost does not exist. We live through our mind. We live by it and we put our trust in it too much, we base ourselves upon it but always make mistakes. Somehow, it does not save us from mistakes. We trust in it too much, strain and apply it everywhere and base upon this reasoning part of our soul. Everything seems to be right to us, we have weighed and mentally compartmentalized it all, but the result is as usual negative. This is because it is one’s wisdom, not mind, that sees the point of things. However, unfortunately, we do not have wisdom. We only have our mind. We have the ability to reason, while wisdom comes from God, it is the voice of God that tells us about the essence of things. The mind acts superficially, while wisdom looks into the essence, the very depth.
In order to serve the Holy Liturgy (say ectenia, read secret prayer and follow everything attentively) and combine it with the Jesus prayer, a priest should use the mind he has in his heart or wisdom. We cannot have two thoughts in our mind, only one, otherwise, they will obstruct each other. But it turns out we can serve the external Liturgy with our mind and say the Jesus prayer without ceasing with our mind in the heart, “Jesus, Jesus, Sweetest Jesus.”
For those people who live only by the reasoning part of their soul, this theme is not clear. But if the mind, which dwells in their hearts, reanimates through a correct spiritual life, through nourishment by the Jesus prayer, the name of God, if it suddenly comes to life, then it turns out that you can serve the Holy Liturgy, say the dismissals, and simultaneously experience the Jesus prayer with another part of your soul. You may even be an accountant: your mind will calculate and your heart will say, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”
I do not say it is easy, that it is done in a snap. The Holy Fathers dedicated the whole of their lives to this, to reanimate their heart not like an organ of feelings and emotions but like the center of our wisdom, the center of our “I.” Only in our heart can we understand the essence of things. In our head we can only beat about the bush and keep on approaching the center. But the final esteem lives in our heart because God dwells there.
Why am I saying such a strange sermon? Because today we commemorate our Blessed Mother Xenia, who is a fool for Christ, and this unique feat of being a fool for Christ in general. Fewer people understand the essence of it. If we approach this feat through our mind, we will receive it only through our mind. We cannot fathom the essence of their feat. What happened to them? What did they live by? What subtle states of soul did they have? They left their mind for wisdom, which is in the heart, and preferred the heart to the head. There are only doubts in your head, while God dwells in your heart.
By a miraculous way, through revelation, they come to see the point of things, see where God is and turn their lives around. The mind always keeps moving forward, outwards and suddenly, a person who realizes where God is, turns around and follows inside of himself. He goes here, in the heart, where there is the mind, the wisdom, and the meeting with Christ is possible. Can you imagine, millions of people go one way and suddenly one of them turns around and goes against the stream the opposite way. He runs into people, being in their way, irritates them, annoys them, sometimes even to hatred. They do not simply become irritated, but push, shove, kick and call him names. But he bears all of this because he knows where he is going. He is going against the crowd, yes, he realizes where he is going. He goes towards Christ, inside of himself, to the place where, according to the Holy Gospel, is the Kingdom of Heaven. “The Kingdom of God is within you.”* This is where he goes and the rest of the people go the other way.
Certainly, there will be a special attitude to this person. A madman, a freak. He encumbers everyone greatly. It would have been impossible to bear the hatred of the crowd, if you did not have a pearl in your hands. You know that you carry it, it warms you, you know this gift, you have a little treasure, and all of your attention is drawn to it. You do not pay attention to insults, misunderstanding and aggression, you are concentrated on the pearl. They push you, you fall, smash your knees, rise up and go on all the same, because you have got your treasure. Christ is the Kingdom of God. Christ is the Treasure.
How many smart people in the world! In the format of the mind. Oh, a great number! What is the result? Nothing. It’s only in minus and minus. They say smart words and have serious eyes. All stupidity on earth is done with a smart expression on the face. All this is nonsense. But all of a sudden, these mad people go against the crowd and reprove the silliness of this world. They do not do this out of disdain or hatred but they do it with the essence of their life. They do not want to prove anything to anyone. They do not shutdown or convince anyone. They just go the right way and by this denounce the world. And often, this world cannot do with being denounced. It becomes very angry being exposed and takes a strong revenge. Sometimes, they seem to lose but we should look at the final point. They will not lose but win there. Because Christ will win there. And the wisdom of this age will be covered with shame. They do not behave like mad people, they run from their mind towards their heart.
* Lk. 17:21