Ignatius_BrianchaninovAccording to the holy fathers, the younger son could also be an image of all fallen mankind and of every sinner.

The younger son’s inheritance is God’s gifts, with which every person is endowed, especially Christians.

The most supreme gifts of God are the mind and heart, and especially the grace of the Holy Spirit given to every Christian.

The son’s demand that the father give him his inheritance to use according his own will is man’s attempt to cast off his submission to God, and follow his own thoughts and desires.

The father ceding the inheritance is a portrayal of the self-governance with which God honored man for the use of His gifts.

The far country is a sinful life, distancing and alienating us from God.

The squandering of the inheritance is the exhaustion of the powers of our mind, heart and body; in particular the outrage against the Holy Spirit and its expulsion from ourselves through our sinful deeds.

The younger son’s poverty is the soul’s emptiness, which comes about from a sinful life.

The permanent inhabitants of the far country are the princes of the darkness this age, the fallen spirits, permanently fallen and alienated from God.

The sinner submits to their influence.

The herd of unclean animals [swine] is the sinful thoughts and feelings that roam in soul of the sinners, grazing on its pastures.

They are the inevitable consequence of sinful acts.

In vain does a man think to silence these thoughts and feelings by fulfilling them—they are most impossible to satisfy!

Man can carry out these passionate thoughts and dreams, but that does not destroy them—it only rouses them to redouble their strength.

Man is created for heaven; only true goodness can be his satisfying, life-giving food.

Evil, which attracts and seduces the heart’s taste damaged by the fall, is only capable of despoiling man’s nature.

How horrible is the emptiness of soul brought on by a sinful life!

Unbearable is the torment from passionate, sinful thoughts and feelings, when they roil like worms in the soul, when they tear at the soul that has submitted to them, the soul that has been violated by them!

Often a sinner who is tormented by fierce thoughts, dreams, and unfulfilled desires comes to despair.

He often tries to take his own life, both temporal and eternal.

Blessed is the sinner who comes to his senses during that terrible period and remembers the boundless love of the Heavenly Father, and the measureless spiritual riches overflowing in the house of the Heavenly Father—the holy Church.

Blessed is that sinner who, horrified by his own sinfulness, wants to be free of its oppressive weight through repentance.

Ignatius Brianchaninov (1807–1867; Russian Orthodox): Instruction on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son on Repentance translated by Nun Cornelia Rees @ Pravoslavie.

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