The oil from the vigil lamps

Priest Savatie Baştovoi

I am still thinking of the parable with the ten virgins and the oil from their vigil lamps, about which some people say that they are virtues and others that they are good deeds.

I noticed many times when we discuss about texts from the Scriptures an inclination to insist on metaphors as if God were an inexhaustible spring of metaphors. Of course any meaning which moves our heart towards repentance and contemplation, without falling into vain exaltations is good to be brought into discussion but we cannot negate the primary meaning either as this was the one which was spread among masses and God knew this well when He inspired  the prophets to write – and it happened the same when Christ in person spoke.

So important is any good meaning for the spiritual work that Saint John Chrysostom, the greatest of all interpreters, uses in his comments not only the Greek text but he also refers at a different Latin form, finding that the difference of translation has its own meaning which increases the depth of the prophesy (we refer at the interpretations of the psalms)

Therefore to intervene as a novice into the discussions about Scriptures is not in the spirit of Orthodoxy and it rather feeds a spirit of debate which chases away the inclination to contemplation from which repentance is born. That repentance is the offspring of contemplation it is proven by the experience of the Egyptian fathers who sent the novice during the fasting period in the depth of the desert giving them canon to meditate about the texts from the Scripture they had not understood.

The oil from the vigil lamps seems to have been the passionless patience. The wise virgins taking oil with them showed that they were not physical and they had been prepared for a long time to wait for their bridegroom, not being excited by lust. But the fool ones came excited by the impatience of lust having the mind darkened by the approach of the encounter and that is why they had not taken oil with them

The oil from the vigil lamps was passionless which is proven through the exercise of long lasting patience.

The virtue of patience which is the flower of humbleness and passionless is praised by Christ with another occasion when He says: `Who endures to the end, will be saved` – and the lack of patience has as reason the lessening of love (Matthew 24, 13-14)

Pure love brings patience and passionless (the wise virgins) and the carnal love excites and darkens the mind leading to betrayal (the fool virgins)

Here it is briefly exposed an interpretation of this parable about passionless love which for this reason it is given by the parable of wedding and of the Bridegroom, because it refers at patience and impatience, at passion and purity, things which cannot be expressed more explicitly than by the atmosphere from the wedding night.

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