The return journey from this remote and inhospitable land is not an easy one, and there is no hunger more fearful than that of a heart laid waste by sin. Those in whom the heart is full of the consolation of incorruptable grace can endure all external deprivations and afflictions, transforming them into a feast of spiritual joy; but the famine in a hardened heart lacking divine consolation is a comfortless torment. There is no greater misfortune than that of an insensible and petrified heart that is unable to distinguish between the luminous Way of God’s Providence and the gloomy confusion of the ways of this world. On the other hand, throughout history there have been men whose hearts were filled with grace. These chosen vessels were enlightened by the spirit of prophecy, and were therefore able to distinguish between Divine Light and the darkness of this world.
No matter how daunting and difficult the struggle of purifying the heart may be, nothing should deter us from this undertaking. We have on our side the ineffable goodness of a GodWho has made man’s heart His personal concern and goal. In the Book of Job, we read the following astonishing words: ‘What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? And that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment… Why has thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself?’ We sense God Who is incomprehensible, pursuing man’s heart: ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’ He knocks at the door of our heart, but He also encourages us to knock at the door of His mercy: ‘Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.’ When the two doors that are God’s goodness and man’s heart open, then the greatest miracle of our existence occurs: man’s heart is united with the Spirit of the Lord, God feasting with the sons of men.
Archimandrite Zacharias (Zacharou), The Hidden Man of the Heart (Essex, Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, 2007) 12-15.