Hieromonk Adrian (Pashin). “The Way of a Pilgrim” and Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov’s) Teaching on Prayer".
Basing himself on the legacy of St Ignatius of the Caucasus, Alexey Ilyich Osipov, the well-known Professor of the Moscow Theological Academy, reflects on the issues of spiritual practices in Eastern and Western Christian traditions, as well as the place of the book The Way of a Pilgrim in Christian spiritual life.
Hieromonk Adrian (Pashin): Alexey Ilyich, your booklet on the Jesus Prayer was published recently. What prompted you to tackle this exclusively (as it might seem) monastic subject?
Alexey Ilyich Osipov: The thing is that I was invited to give a lecture in Italy, at the famous Bose monastery, where they hold conferences on various topics every year. Representatives of different Churches are invited – not only from the Catholic Church, but from the Orthodox and even the Protestant Churches as well. That was in September 2004. The topic of the conference was prayer and, I think, even the Jesus Prayer, but I don’t remember for sure. How did the theme for my talk come up? The Chancellor of one of the Pontifical Institutes in Rome visited our Academy about twenty years ago. During his talk in the conference hall he said, in particular, that Catholic monastics are currently very interested in Hindu meditation practices and The Way of a Pilgrim, where a quite peculiar teaching on the Jesus Prayer is expounded. That is why I decided to write a talk on the subject of “The Teaching on the Jesus Prayer according to Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov) and The Way of a Pilgrim”. I thought that the subject would be of interest both to Catholics and to me because I had read The Way when I was 16 or 17 and it had made a very inspirational impression on me back then. I remember trying to practice the Jesus Prayer for a day or two, using the Pilgrim’s method – I could not do it for much longer; later, when I took up work on my talk, I understood that that had been fortunate. I gave my talk at the conference. The Orthodox showed interest while the Catholic audience received it in silence. However, one of the famous (I am not going to name him) secular scholars from St Petersburg (not a theologian), a regular participant at all the Bose conferences, expressed his displeasure at my talk. The talk was then translated into Italian and published both in Italy and Russia. Such is its background.