SAINT IGNATIUS (BRIANCHANINOV) was one of the leading spiritual writers of nineteenth century Russia. He became a monk in 1831 and the bishop of the Caucasus and the Black Sea in 1857. He devoted much of his life to writing spiritual works, his most famous being known in English translation as the Arena, which has been continuously in print for almost half a century. He reposed in 1867 and was canonized in 1988. The Field is the inaugural English translation of the first volume of his Collected Works.
Precious works by Saint Ignatius include The Arena and The Field, both are available in the parish library.
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 [in The Arena] 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 is provided by Archimandrite (now Metropolitan) Kallistos (aka Timothy Ware) as well as a glossary of terms. The 2nd edition was reedited and newly typeset. It includes interior design features, subject and scripture indexes, and includes a short life of St Ignatius.
"The spiritual harvest requires a heart that is harrowed by repentance, softened by compunction, and irrigated by tears."
The field is a place of cultivation and of battle. In this volume the nineteenth century Christian saint and teacher Ignatius (Brianchaninov) instructs his readers in the cultivation of the field of their hearts, with the aim of producing a harvest of virtues both pleasing to God and of benefit to all humankind. Drawing on his own military background St Ignatius recognizes that this cultivation requires discipline and awareness of the enemies that thwart our efforts to live a holy life. His words combine spiritual wisdom with reflections on nature that hint at the joy awaiting those who embrace the saint’s call.
The Field draws deeply on the teachings of the ascetic fathers of the Church, from the desert dwellers of Scetis in Egypt to St Ignatius’s Russian contemporaries, the Optina Elders. He demonstrates how their voice is one in guiding us on the Christian path. It will be impossible for either lay people or monastics to read these words without being challenged and inspired to follow Christ more fully in cultivating the Field of their own life.