The Jesus Prayer
Guest_Beryl Wells Hamilton
Posted 14 July 2003 - 07:10 PM
But having said that, the actual, physical act of joining the Orthodox Church through baptism/chrismation/Eucharist, along with continuing participation in Christ the Head and His Body - the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church - washes away all former delusions, fills the believer with the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, and imparts forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. When it happens to you, you will see the difference. There's no way to describe it in words. You just have to experience it.
With love and prayers,
Posted 14 July 2003 - 09:05 PM
As for the number of other churches, there are quite a few arent there? I dont think the sheer number of other churches has had any real effect on Orthodoxys exclusivist claims though.
Posted 14 July 2003 - 09:06 PM
Posted 15 July 2003 - 02:02 AM
Thank you for your interesting answers. Richard, forgive me, but your answer is a bit confusing in that you are using the works of St. John of the Cross to advise people concerning the use of the Jesus Prayer.
John of the Cross was a Roman Catholic "Mystic," and along with Teresa of Avila, had a profound effect on Spanish spiritual life. However, from the Orthodox point of view, John of the Cross simply could not be used as a spiritual guide, just as Thomas a Kempis could not. If one reads some of the "Mystical" experiences by Catholic religious of the time, such as one friar who experienced Jesus Christ reaching down from a crucifix and holding him and them kissing him deeply, one cannot readily believe that the friar was experiencing "spiritual" thoughts! For serious Orthodx people, men like John of the Cross and Francis were deluded to the extreme.
As you point out, I do not presume to advise non-Orthodox, but I would also ask humbly and respectfully that non-Orthodox not give advise which could spiritually damage Orthodox Christians. If by God's mercy, your have benifitted by saying the prayer, then God bless you.
I do, however, take offense when you feel that you personally, from your own limited knowledge, other than studying, assure anyone that saying the Jesus Prayer will not bring them to spiritual harm. Also, to advise others to "follow the advice of the RC John of the Cross and pay no attention whatever spiritual experience with the excercise of the prayer," is not only contradictory, but very, very dangerous!
It is my opinon ( which I rarely say) that It is clear from this particular post that while you might have seen praying the Jesus Prayer for some, time, but it has not been given to you to experience it; rather, in His mercy, God has covered you and protected you, and I believe He has done so because you have a good and kind heart.
My dear Brotherrs and sisters, in another thread, Owen wisely said to Photini, that in regards to spiritual advice, it is best to go to one's own priest. We cannot seek advice from well-meaning and kind people who lack the spiritual knowledge needed, and who are not members of the Orthodox Church for many years. Our own priest isalways the best because he know us and our family, our situation, and speaks to us rather often. If a person does not yet have that relationship with his priest, he should make efforts to do so - it will be better for him and his priest. As a Christian, would you seek advice from a Rabbi or a Imam in matters concerning your salvation? Dear Richard, I wish not to insult you, but am saying that as Owen says, we should seek the advice of our own spiritual guide. What I have to say in my posts on this board concerns general principles, for I have already spoken to members of this forum privately, and then my advice, having been sought, is given on individual needs, knowledge, and understanding.
This thread is a perect example of what I have been saying all along; if you are Orthodox, and would like to say the prayer, simply mention it to your parish priest, so that he will know and will bless. It is that simple. Alas, it is true, it is very hard to find a sound spiritual father, but we then must turn to the writings of the Fathers of the Orthodox Church, not to just anyone. Asking for and receiving advice which concerns one's personal salvation on an internet message board, puts everyone involved in a certain amount of danger in that if unsound advice is given, and then taken and acted upon, leading to further spiritual problems, both parties will have to be answerable to God. Neither can we rely upon our own feelings or thoughts, for they can be easily manipulated by the Evil One.
Dear Andrew, it is not possible to have a spiritual father in the true sense if you are not Orthodox, but if you can seek out an Orthodox priest near where you live, and go talk to him, sincerely and openly, and I am sure he will be more than happy to help you.
There many dangers in saying the Jesus Prayer, and many of the are quite subtle.
Here are some excerpts from "On the Jesus Prayer," by Saint Ignatius Briachaninov:
"The most sublime mental activity is extraordinarily simple. It needs for its acceptance child-like simplicity and faith. But we have become so complicated that it is just this simplicity which is inaccesible, incomprehensible, to us. We want to be clever, we want to revive our own ego, we cannot bear self-renunciation,or self-denial, we have no desire to live and act by faith. It is for this reason that we need a guide to lead us out of our complexity, out of our impertinance, out of our cunning, out of our vanity, and self confidence, into the breadth and simplicity of faith. That is why it frequently happens that in the field of mental activity, the child attains phenomenal success, while the learned man loses his way and falls into the dark pit of delusion."
"Extremely good is the method of practising the Jesus Prayer taught by Dorotheus, the Russian ascetic and spiritual writer:
"He who prays with the lips, he says, "but neglects his soul and does not guard his heart, prays to the air, and not to God; and he labours in vain, because God attends to the mind and fervour, not an excess of words. One should pray with all one's fervour, with one's soul, and mind and heart, with the fear of God, and with all one's strength. Mental prayer does not allow either distractions or foul thoughts to enter the inner sanctum."
And finally, St. Ignatius firmly states:
"If it is forbidden for monks to strive prematurely for prayer offered by the mind in the temple of the heart, still more, it is forbidden to laypeople. St. Andrew the Fool for Christ and a few others-and extremely few laypeople - had the most profound prayer of the heart. This is an exception, and the greatest rarity, which cannot possible serve as a rule for all. To class oneself among these exceptional personalities is nothing but self-deception due to conceit-hidden delusion prior to obvious delusion."
"So how can laypeople, without obedience, by self-directionwhich is accompanied by delusion, force themselves to such an awful and terrifying work, that is, to such prayer, without and kind of guidance? How will they be able to escape the diverse and varied illusions of the enemy most cunningly directed against this prayer and those who practise it?
As you can see, my words of caution are very mild in comparison to the words of Saint Ignatius. I feel that soon I will stop posting on Monachos, because I see Orthodoxy being played with and kicked around like a soccer balkl in some sort of mind game. I can give answers and opinions which I have been taught by monks of many years, the Holy Scriptures, the Teachings of the Church, and the Holy Fathers. I am not able to deal with situations any further when non-Orthodox laypeople are telling people to say the Prayer of the Heart, using as their "expert" in prayer, a deluded Roman Catholic Mystic. My dear Owen, I find I cannot agree with you on your dissent, but will suggest that people follow your very good advice to Photini- go to your priest! I just received a private letter from someone who let me know in no uncertain terms that they read the Philokalia every Friday night-as if to say to me, "Say what you want, but I will do what I want." Several people have contacted me privately, seeking help and advice, and I have told them I am not by any means a spiritual father but have only tried to be helpful, again from what I have been taught, I have lovingly given made some suggestions and, as one person put it, he disregards my words, almost cunningly.
As I have said before on other threads, we are living in a sad and tragic age, where people have becoime so full of themselves and their views and ideas that they now think that if they have a personal "opinion," then that opinion is for them, the Truth. There is no way that one can reason with such people. Men have become their own god, and the God I know is someone to be discussed, read about, but not to be the center of people's lives.
The translator of "On the Prayer of Jesus" writes:
"...The Jesus Prayer acts as a constant reminder to make man loo inwards AT ALL TIMES, to become aware ,of his fleeting thoughts, sudden emotions and even movements so that it may make him try to control them."
"One is advise to repeat the Prayer of Jesus in 'silence and solitude.'
Silence here is meant to include inner silence; the silence of one's own mind, the arreesting of the imagination from the ever-turbulent and ever-present stream of thoughts, words, impressions pictures and day dreams, which keep one asleep.
Solitude may mean many things. It certainly means a phase, at least , of physical solitude. But it also implies the solitude of one;s soul, the elimination of all ordinary human frailities, of human weaknesses. The awful solitude of the Self."
"It is generally agreed that our modern world, although it has achieved much in the way of progress, has also lost a great deal of spiritual strength: the morals and principles of people are at a very low ebb. The mere fact that ammoral movemdents such as facism and communism have occured in this century shows this loss of spirituality amongst civilized people. Our highly organized material civilization without a correspondingly high level
of spiritual development is indeed a "house built on sifting sands," and as a result, we are all unbalanced and unstable." Fr. Lazarus Moore
Andrew, find a good priest to talk to pray and ask God to guide you in the direction you should go. In regards to the davice of Bishop Kallistos, with all due respect, may I suggest that you read the lives of Orthodox saints, read books like "My Life in Christ," by St. John of Kronstadt, and the Prologue, by St. Nikolaij Velimirovich They are not "theological" books, but will give you a taste of the savor of Orthodoxy thought and piety. The Prologue is exceptionally good, because it gives not only the lives of saints for every day, but a reflection and a short sermon. St. Nikolai was not only a great bishop, but a prolific author, and his works show how loving and pastoral he was, and for a person seeking the Faith, such reading is much more helpful than starting at the "top" with theological or patristic books.
In closing this too long answer, Andrew, I will again quote St. Ignatius:
What is written by every holy writer is written from his spiritual level ( attainment), and from his practice (experience), in conformity with his level and practice. We must pay special attention to this point. Let us not be carried away and enraptured by a book written as if with fire that tells of high states and activities for which we are unfit. The reading of such a book, by firing the imagination, can harm us by communicating a knowledge and desire for labours that are untimely and impossible for us. Let us apply ourselves to a book of a Father nearer to our state in the matter of attainment."
Andrew, if you have no interest in bcoming Orthodox at the present time, you could still read the books which I have recommended, but I personally maintain that you should not say the Prayer. May God bless and help you.
To all of my Orthodox brothers and sisters, as I have stated before, I personally have no problem with laypeople saying the Prayer of the heart, but please, at least mention it to your priest. I myself have lately become desirous of concentrating on the Prayer, but will son go to my spiritual father and seek his advice as to whether or not if this a proper time, or if I should wait. Read again the translator's words starting with"One is advised to repaeat the prayer of Jesus in 'silence and solutude,' and the next paragraph, and ask yourself, "Have I reached the described in these words? Can I say I have achieved such silence and solitude? Can I pray and not be distracted?" I do not think many of us can say that -I know I can't. It can be done, but with humility, patience, and love of God and neigbor.
Sincerely, and asking for forgiveness from all,
Posted 15 July 2003 - 02:19 AM
Forgive me, for it looks like I am really picking on you personally -As you know, my frustration with you is that I still firmly believe that you could be a very good Orthodox Christian if you could manage to unclog your brain with all the information about the Church that you have collected over the years and instead seek the simplicity of heart of which Christ and the Holy Fathers speak. I firmly believe that you are a good and most kind person, and I realize that at all times, you wish to be helpful, but sometimes, there are certain areas where we should simply acknowldege that we are not so knowledgeable. When I read the threads that you, Owen and the venerable Richard McBride post on, I am made painfully aware of how I did not delve into more opportunities to furhter educate myself when I was in university. At time, we Orthodox are accused of being"anti-intellectual," but that really is not the case at all. We simply look at approaching God in a different manner. I wanted to write this to you pubicly, because although we often might sharply disagree, I do respect all of your efforts to the good, even when I feel that you a bit out of your depth. You have had many good and profound things to say, and I have appreciated them very much.
Posted 15 July 2003 - 02:34 AM
In Post #180 you express your desire to be “ridding ourselves of our delusions and righting our worship”. And, indeed, more than desiring , you assure us that you are doing these things. My question to you is this: is it better to study, observe, and have an intellectual understanding of undeluded right worship, or to experience, partake, taste, and gain the “knowledge by experience” spoken of in an earlier post? And another question: is there any assurance of escaping delusion and achieving right worship outside of living our life as a member of Christ’s body?
Posted 15 July 2003 - 03:25 AM
Saints are real. They breathed like you and I and to some people they have shown up. And there are many Saints that can show up if it is Gods will. We can learn about them in the book The Lives of the Saints.
Angels are real. They are bodiless powers created before the creation of the physical universe. The English word "angel" comes from the Greek word for "messenger." Throughout the Scripture, angels are messengers who carry the Word of God to earth (e.g. Gabriel's visit to Mary, Luke 1:26-38). The Orthodox Church teaches that there are nine "choirs" or groups of angels: Angels, Archangels, Powers, Authorities, Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim (see Gen. 3:24; Is. 6:2; Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16; 1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Pet. 3:22).
I've seen many people who venerate the icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov with tearful devotion for varying lengths of time. Perhaps Andrew shouldn't wait for St. Seraphim to show up. Perhaps he should go pray before his icon in an Orthodox Church and say the Jesus prayer one time for one hundreth of a second with his whole heart "fixed" or "formal".
I hope this is enough.
With love in Christ,
Posted 15 July 2003 - 07:47 AM
I should no longer be amazed, but it happens so often that it leaves me in awe and wonder -- that is to say, how often the Lord opens up to us a small portion of His plan for things. At the moment I am in wonder over the small little lesson of what is being discussed under this thread, and how the daily readings are (as it happens so often) a reflection upon what is said here.
The reading from the Apostle today is Romans 14:9-18; but I point to these two verses:
13. So then each of us shall give account to God.
14. Therefore, let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this: Not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.
How amazing it is that so many times the Lord takes this trouble to remind, that nothing happens without His knowledge.
And Matthew, I am delighted the Spirit has moved you to say these good things.
Posted 15 July 2003 - 09:20 AM
Thankyou Father Averky for your very good post. I needed it. Like you, I am getting tired of this board, but I cant help myself!
Some things people say make me spin out.
Anyone who knows what the Fathers mean when they warn about delusions in prayer would not have written what Owen wrote. Ignore what Owen wrote.
Father Averky, we are wretched! We live in the world and there is this tension, people really want something more out thier faith than what they have found. We read and read and we talk and talk, then suddenly we say: "but what should we actually do?" So we read the Fathers and they say, follow Christs commandments and in them you will find life. But we really dont believe that we need to follow the Commandments of Christ. We say, Im Orthodox, Im a real Christian, look, I know this and Ive read that and I can tell you all about them. But its all in our heads! Father Averky is right, listen to him! Its our opinions that we worship. We are trapped. We say, Oh, I really want to know God. But the Fathers say, before you can know God, you have to forget everything you have learned in the world through the senses. How many takers are there for that? Who wants to stop worrying about what they will eat and wear? Even our priests are reluctant to guide us in the way of Christs Commandments, as if they are scary or something! But without the resolve to follow Jesus, how can we talk about theology and prayer of the heart and such things? Ive jsut read some of St Symeons words where he tells some monks off for discussing theological subjects without having fulfilled the Commandments. He says they dont realise they will be tried for this. We dont think this applies to us though. We are smarter than those saints! we understand theology very well!
Im wondering if the internet is a good place for Christians to talk. It just gets too wordy and its too easy to post something quickly without thinking. We cant even see each other.
Sorry Ive ranted on like this. Please check out the document by Phillip Sherrard that I posted on the other thread, intellect, questioning and Orthodoxy. Its really good. Its all about our state of illusion due to our self worship and our enslavement to self-delusion. It is a very sobering read.
sorry anyone if this post is stupid, but I cant tell until after its done.
Posted 15 July 2003 - 09:45 AM
Fr. A. perhaps you could clarify why you think I shouldn’t say the Jesus prayer. I take your point about not seeking spiritual direction on the internet. That’s not really what I’m trying to do. I’m just interested in what people mean when they talk about ‘dangers’. I’m not sure my question has been answered. I don’t ask out of idle curiosity. The more I learn about Orthodox spirituality (and theology for that matter) the more it feels like home. I have been saying the prayer ‘formally’ and by God’s mercy it’s been helping me learn to be silent. Perhaps these latter two points strike you as a bad idea. If so, please explain why.
Posted 13 May 2011 - 08:25 PM
Daniel, could you explain in detail the exlusivism (I use the term without meaning to be prejorative) in your statement? I'm aware that the Orthodox church sees itself as a continuation of the early church but wondered how that belief fared in the ecumenical movement and simply the vast amount of other churches in existence.
We are the Church, the sole Church, there are no "branches". The Orthodox Church is the Church. All others are schism or heresy. It's really that simple. It's not all pretty, kumbaya Christian, and politically correct, but it is the truth.
Posted 28 May 2011 - 07:15 PM
I first started learning The Jesus Prayer while visiting monasteries when I prayed with novices and postulants.
My spiritual father is incorporating controlled breathing to regulate the speed.
I started with 10 prayers 3 times a day.
I am currently at 5 circuits on a 33 knot prayer rope per day:
33 in the morning, 66 in the afternoon and 66 at night
For me, one circuit takes about 20 minutes.
(I am a night person rather than a morning person so my focus is at it's lowest first thing in the morning.)
+10 "extended prayers" after my night prayer.
What I do is based on sensations experienced, ability to focus and insights acquired during the process.
The "extended prayers" are essentially slow it down until you experience a specific sensation again.
At this point I am encouraged to experiment.
Without direction one might very well just be rapidly repeating the Jesus Prayer as a mantra.
It is going to be a long slow process that will be directed as my spiritual development mandates.
It is a matter of documentation (mine is through journaling) and tweaking a bit here and a bit there in order to find what works best for you!
That's the sort of thing that requires spiritual direction!
Edited by David Naess, 28 May 2011 - 07:32 PM.
add a bit here and there for clarity
Posted 04 July 2011 - 04:56 PM
Saint Gregory Palamas says,
Let no one think, my brother Christians, that it is the duty only of priests and monks to pray without ceasing, and not of laymen. No, no; it is the duty of all of us Christians to remain always in prayer.How is it that we can remain always at prayer if we do not live a monastic life? Saint Gregory answers this in this way,
"How it is possible to pray without ceasing, namely by praying in the mind. And this we can always do if we so wish."This is so true. No matter what we are doing physically we can pray in our mind. Of course there are certain activities like driving when we want to have our full attention on the task. But we can learn to have a prayer going on in our mind even when we are driving of course this is not for those beginning in prayer). After all, many have no problem talking on a cell phone or talking with another person while driving. Even when we are talking with another person we can still be praying in the mind. We have the capacity to hear more than one conversation at a time. So we surely can have a prayer in our mind and hear others speaking. All of us have the potential to pray continually and this does not require us to stop all our activities to do so.
Saint Gregory says,
Let us work with the body and pray with the soul. Let our outer man perform his bodily tasks, and let the inner man be entirely dedicated to the service of God, never abandoning this spiritual practice of mental prayer, as Jesus, God and Man, commanded us...Now getting to this stage where we can pray continually in our mind is not easy and takes a lot of work.
Saint Gregory advises.
At first it may appear very difficult to you, but be assured, as it were from Almighty God, that this very name of our Lord Jesus Christ, constantly invoked by you, will help you to overcome all difficulties, and in the course of time you will become used to this practice and will taste how sweet is the name of the Lord. Then you will learn by experience that this practice is not impossible and not difficult, but both possible and easy. This is why St. Paul, who knew better than we the great good which such prayer would bring, commanded us to pray without ceasing. He would not have imposed this obligation upon us if it were extremely difficult and impossible, for he knew beforehand that in such case, having no possibility of fulfilling it, we would inevitably prove to be disobedient and would transgress his commandment, thus incurring blame and condemnation. The Apostle could have had no such intention.
Posted 08 February 2016 - 08:23 AM
I cannot get copy and paste to work on this site these days but above is a link to an excellent work which includes a life of Archbishop Golynsky and his notes on the Jesus Prayer. My wife bought the book whilst we were in Moscow recently and I managed to find this English version. Highly recommended.
Posted 08 February 2016 - 10:21 PM
To digress from the thread topic:
To insert hyperlinks, click on the ninth button in the second row of the quote box, the one which looks like a chain link with a white plus sign within a green circle. A new window will pop up, where the link can be pasted. Click OK, and the working link will be incorporated into the post.
Here is the link Andreas posted: http://nnproekt.ru/pdf/two_elders.pdf
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