Saturday, January 22, 2022

Great Is The Name Jesus.
Saint Sophrony the Athonite.


Tomb of Saint Sophrony.
 Saint John the Baptist Monastery. Essex.

        Great is the Name I AM. Great the Name of the Holy Trinity. And great, too, the name JESUS. Much can be said of this Name of His. It is inexhaustible in its content. It belongs to Him to Whom everything that is owes its exist­ence. “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”. He was 'in the beginning' - that is, He is the principle of all the universe. In the inner life of the Trinity He is turned towards the Father; in the Act of creation that Logos addressed Himself to the creature in His image.

The Name Jesus as knowledge, as 'energy' of God in relation to the world and as His proper Name, is ontologically bound up with Him. It is spiritual reality. Its sound can merge with its reality but not necessarily so. As a name it was given to many mortal men but when we pray we utter it with another content, another 'frame' of spirit. For us it is the bridge between us and Him. It is the canal along which the streams of divine strength flow to us. As proceeding from the Holy God it is holy and it hallows us by its invocation. With this Name and through it prayer acquires a certain tangibleness: it unites us with God. In it, this Name, God is present like a scent-flask full of fragrance. Through it, the Celestial One can be sensed imminently. As divine energy it proceeds from the Substance of Divinity and is divine itself.

When we pray, knowing this, our prayer becomes at the same time both a fearful and a triumphal act. In ancient times the commandment bade us not to take the Name of God in vain. The Lord gave the commandment and bidding to 'ask of the Father in His Name'. Through the coming of Christ all the Divine Names were disclosed to us in their more profound sense, and we ought to stand in fear and trembling, as happens with many ascetics among whom I came to live, when they pronounce the Holy Name of Jesus. It is bold of me to say that even I could have been a living witness that fitting invocation of this Name fills all our being with the presence of the Eternal God; carries our mind into other Spheres; endows us with the peculiar energy of a new life. Divine Light, which it is not easy to discuss, comes with this Name.

We know that not only the Name Jesus but all the other Names, too, are revealed to us from on High, are ontologi­cally linked with Him - God. We know this from experience in the Church. All the sacraments in our Church are effected by invocation of the Divine Names, first and foremost of the Holy Trinity: of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. All our divine worship is based on invocation of the Divine Names. We do not attribute magic powers to them, as sound phenomena. They are pronounced in true con­fession of our faith and in a state of divine awe, reverence and love - we do indeed hold God conjointly with His Names. Many generations of the priesthood have preserved knowledge of the power of the Name of God and performed the sacraments with a profound sense of the presence of the Living God. The sacrament of the celebration of the Divine Liturgy was revealed to them. For them there was no doubt that the Blood and the Body of Christ lay before them in all their reality. Over the bread and the wine the Name was invoked of Him Who, when He pronounces the word, the word becomes 'fact'. 'And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Neglect of the ontological character of the Divine Names, the lack of this experience in prayers and the celebration of the divine office has desolated the lives of many. For them prayer and the sacraments themselves lose their eternal reality. The Liturgy becomes, not a Divine Act but simply a psycho­logical or mental commemoration. Many go so far as to think prayer a useless waste of time, especially if their prayer for our everyday needs does not bring about what they prayed for. . . But is not the union with the God of our being the most important miracle of our existence? The 'good part' which death shall not take from us. The fact of our resurrection in God  this is what our attention is centred on as the final purport of our appearance in the world. Love for Christ, filling the whole man, radically alters our life. He - God-man - united the two in Himself, and through Him we have access to the Father. Could one wish for anything more.?!.




“On Prayer”. Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov.1996.