The fervent admiration some saints had for the works of St Ignatius Brianchaninov

“As is well known, the oral and written accounts of him by all the Optina Elders and many other pious Russian ascetics are not simply positive, but rather, I’d say, are filled with admiration. They spoke and wrote about him as a true teacher who had a profound understanding of spiritual life and expounded the way of the Holy Fathers in his writings. I will quote their statements.

St Macarius of Optina called him “a great mind.” St Barsanuphius of Optina wrote, “When I read his writings, I marvel at his truly angelic mind, his amazingly deep understanding of the Holy Scriptures. For some reason, I am especially favorably disposed toward his writings; they somehow have a special appeal for my heart and my mind, illumining it with a truly evangelical light.” “The fifth volume of Bishop Ignatius’ writings contains the teaching of the Holy Fathers applied to modern-day monasticism and teaches how the writings of the Holy Fathers should be read. Bishop Ignatius had a profound outlook and was, in that respect, probably even deeper than Bishop Theophan [the Recluse – A.Z.J.].

His word has a powerful effect on the soul for it proceeds from experience.” Abbot Nikon (Vorobyev) expresses the same thought fifty years later, “How grateful I am to him for his writings! Not to understand and not to appreciate him means not to understand anything about spiritual life. I would dare to say that Bishop Theophan’s writings (may the holy Vladyka forgive me) are a schoolboy’s works compared to those of a professor—the writings of Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov). St Nikon (Belyaev) of Optina called Bishop Ignatius’ work “the ABC of spiritual life” – he held it in such high esteem. And it is Bishop Ignatius’ writings that all the other Optina Elders recommended for study, in particular, his teaching on prayer – a true guide to spiritual life.”

We find remarkable words about Bishop Ignatius in the writings of Abbess Arsenia (Sebryakova), “I read him with great pleasure, to my soul’s comfort and edification. The words of Vladyka himself are dear to me.” Schema-Abbot John of Valaam refers to Bishop Ignatius and offers the bishop’s advice to his own spiritual children as the most authoritative for our times. (In this connection, I would like to point out in parentheses that any Church preacher or writer who, speaking of spiritual life in his writings, does not turn to Bishop Ignatius’ writings, gives a clear testimony to “what manner of spirit he is of” [Lk 9:55 – A.Z.J.] However, turning to those works is not in itself an indicator of the writer’s spirituality).”