The Refuge is a modern English translation of some of the writings of St Ignatius Brianchaninov. St Ignatius, who lived between 1807 and 1867, was a bishop and theologian of the Russian Orthodox Church. He was one of the most prolific and influential writers of the modern Church, and wrote extensively on the spiritual life, on prayer, and on how to progress in the spiritual world. Many readers would be familiar with another of his books, The Arena, which sets out a series of guidelines for the spiritual life.
The Refuge contains 21 chapters, each seeking to inspire the reader to take actions to purify themselves, seek refuge in the Lord, and perfect the image of God that is inside them. These chapters include “The Fear of God and the Love of God” (Ch.4), “Seeing One’s Sins” (Ch.7), “The Jesus Prayer” (Ch.17) and “Salvation and Christian Perfection” (Ch.20).
In each chapter, St Ignatius ties together many reflections on the Bible (including the Old Testament and the Psalms), the writings of the Church fathers, and his own spiritual insights to guide the reader on this journey. This approach is engaging and insightful.
The Refuge is a book that requires careful study as it raises deep insights regarding the hidden workings of the spiritual realm. More importantly, however, it is a book that repays action. St Ignatius is not undertaking a theological discourse for post-graduate studies. Instead, he seeks to provide the reader with concrete actions to be taken in this life. From the very first page of the book, he challenges the reader to “come and listen to the salvific teaching” and to stop wasting time “with constant, futile toil, unrewarded by any fruits.” Once we begin listening to “the holy song” – when we live a life of prayer, repentance, and love – the Lord’s consolation will descend and we will understand the words of the Psalmist: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly” (Psalm 1:1).
Source: Lychnos June-July 2021