The Arena: Guidelines for Spiritual and Monastic Life
Ignatius (Brianchaninov) “The Arena: Guidelines for Spiritual and Monastic Life” Translated by Lazarus (Moore). Foreword by Kallistos (Ware). [Holy Trinity Publications, 1997]
“This is one of the most important and accessible texts of Orthodox Christian teaching on the spiritual life, and and not unlike the better known “Philokalia.” The author, St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) describes this work as his legacy “of soul saving instruction.” He promises that “Those who carry out these instructions will enter into possession of spiritual riches.” In an age even more alienated from spiritual culture and rooted in materialism, his words pose both a challenge and an invitation to all who ever say to themselves “There must be more to life than this.” For anyone who desires to deepen their own spiritual journey based upon an encounter with Christ as God, this book is essential reading. Its contents may ultimately be accepted or rejected, but they will be very difficult to ignore.
“Like the other leaders of this Russian monastic revival, Ignatius was deeply rooted in the ascetic and mystical doctrine of the Greek Fathers, yet there was nothing antiquarian or academic about his devotion to the teaching of the past: for this ancient tradition was something that he had experienced directly, as a creative and dynamic reality in his personal life.” Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia
Subjects covered include unceasing prayer, the need for spiritual direction and the importance of Divine meditation. The original Russian edition was published in 1867. The work encapsulates the legacy of St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) as it was published in the year of his death, after some forty years of monastic life. There is a helpful thirteen-page introduction provided by Archimandrite (now Metropolitan) Kallistos (aka Timothy Ware) as well as a glossary of terms. The 2nd edition was re-edited and newly typeset. It includes interior design features, subject and scripture indexes, and includes a short life of St Ignatius.”
“It is fashionable in our times to value youth over experience, novelty above tradition. This classic work stands in unmistakable contrast to this tendency. First published in its original Russian edition in the year of the author’s death, it is the summation of his more than forty years experience of Christian and monastic life.
Like the sayings of the Fathers of the Egyptian desert, offered by monks to their fellow strugglers, the wisdom offered in these pages is ageless and of wide application to every aspect of life. Tradition is revealed as an appropriation of Divine Life, passed on to others by both action and word.
The title given to the original English language edition “The Arena” has been kept as this aptly sums up its constant theme; the need for struggle if we are to progress in the spiritual life. Like the gladiatorial combat of the Roman arena this struggle is against wild beasts and well-armed foes. There are many watching; some shouting encouragement to the struggler and others cheering their foes. All of this is occurring within the arena of our own hearts as we do battle with the sin that prevents us from knowing God as He would be known. As the now Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) writes in his foreword:
“Such, then, is Bishop Ignatius’ basic theme: he tells us of the struggle to be undertaken by every Christian in the spiritual arena. He speaks to us all, whether monks or not, explaining how we may tame, control, and transform the beast within – the lions and howling wolves of our inner jungle – and so build in our hearts Jerusalem, the city of peace and unity.””
“Saint Ignatius (secular name Dmitry Alexandrovich Brianchaninov, Russian: Дмитрий Александрович Брянчанинов; 1807–1867) was a bishop and theologian of the Russian Orthodox Church.
He was glorified (canonized) as a saint by the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church of 1988. His relics are preserved at the ancient Tolga Monastery on the Volga River near Yaroslavl…
Although successful in his studies, he was deeply dissatisfied with the lay life and turned to a life of prayer. In 1827 he fell seriously ill and left the army on this ground. He began pursuing a monastic vocation and in 1831 took monastic vows and received the monastic name of Ignatius. Soon after he was ordained a priest. He rose rapidly to the rank of archimandrite and at the age of 26 was appointed superior of the Maritime Monastery of St. Sergius in St. Petersburg. In 1857, he was consecrated Bishop of the Caucasus and the Black Sea, but he retired only four years later to the Nikolo-Babayevsky Monastery on the Volga to devote himself to spiritual writing.
He wrote a large amount of material, mostly about the spiritual life and prayer. Only a small portion of his writing has been translated into English. Although his writing was intended primarily for monks, his works are highly recommended for lay Christians by leading Orthodox figures such as Father Thomas Hopko.”