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Using a prayer rope


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#41 Ryan

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 03:16 PM

Reading through The Art of Prayer (edited by Igumen Chariton of Valaam) I came across these passages, which reminded me of this discussion:

 

 Is the Jesus Prayer obligatory for laymen too, and not only for monks? Indeed it is obligatory, for, as we said, every Christian should be united with the Lord in his heart, and the best means to achieve such a union is precisely the Jesus Prayer.

- Bishop Justin (of Tobolsk and Ryazan)

 

To practice the Jesus Prayer, as we are all gaining the habit of doing, is an excellent thing. In monasteries it is being set as a task. Would they set it as a task if it were dangerous?
What is dangerous is only the mechanical techniques which were added later and adjusted to fit the recitation of the prayer: and these are dangerous because they sometimes plunge us into a dream world of illusion, and sometimes - strange to say - into a constant state of lust. For this reason we should advise against such techniques and forbid them. But to call on the most sweet Name of the Lord in simplicity of heart is something we can suggest and recommend to anyone.

- St. Theophan the Recluse



#42 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 05:17 AM

When I was a young monk in Tito's Yugoslavia the monastic spiritual fathers did not bless the monks and nuns to use the Jesus Prayer.  At our tonsuring we were given a prayer rope (brojanica) but instructed to not undertake any hesychastic methods.  Simply to use the Prayer as a repetitive prayer.  The reasoning behind this prohibition was their general opinion that the decades of communist rule had been detrimental to the standards of spiritual life and the quality of spiritual direction in the monasteries.  Monks who yearned to undertake hesychastic prayer could ask for a blessing to move to an Athonite monastery.



#43 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 05:23 AM

>To practice the Jesus Prayer, as we are all gaining the habit of doing, is an excellent thing. In monasteries it is being set as a task. Would they set it as a task if it were dangerous? What is dangerous is only the mechanical techniques which were added later and adjusted to fit the recitation of the prayer: and these are dangerous because they sometimes plunge us into a dream world of illusion, and sometimes - strange to say - into a constant state of lust. For this reason we should advise against such techniques and forbid them. But to call on the most sweet Name of the Lord in simplicity of heart is something we can suggest and recommend to anyone.<<<

 

 The background to what St Theophan is writing is the Holy Governing Synod's prohibition against the use of the Jesus Prayer in monasteries.  It may seem incredible to us now but the Synod saw it as a dangerous novelty in the process of being introduced into Russia.



#44 Ryan

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 10:44 AM

>To practice the Jesus Prayer, as we are all gaining the habit of doing, is an excellent thing. In monasteries it is being set as a task. Would they set it as a task if it were dangerous? What is dangerous is only the mechanical techniques which were added later and adjusted to fit the recitation of the prayer: and these are dangerous because they sometimes plunge us into a dream world of illusion, and sometimes - strange to say - into a constant state of lust. For this reason we should advise against such techniques and forbid them. But to call on the most sweet Name of the Lord in simplicity of heart is something we can suggest and recommend to anyone.<<<

 

 The background to what St Theophan is writing is the Holy Governing Synod's prohibition against the use of the Jesus Prayer in monasteries.  It may seem incredible to us now but the Synod saw it as a dangerous novelty in the process of being introduced into Russia.

Thank you Father Ambrose. No, it does not seem so incredible- studying the history of the Jesus prayer, it appears the various saints who wrote about it often came across opposition to it as "dangerous" or the notion that it is only for monks or specially initiated persons. Despite various fathers refuting this perspective throughout the centuries (e.g. St. Gregory Palamas, Elder Basil of Poiana Marului, Sts. Theophan and Ignatii Brianchaninov) it seems to keep cropping up.



#45 Ryan

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 10:52 AM

When I was a young monk in Tito's Yugoslavia the monastic spiritual fathers did not bless the monks and nuns to use the Jesus Prayer.  At our tonsuring we were given a prayer rope (brojanica) but instructed to not undertake any hesychastic methods.  Simply to use the Prayer as a repetitive prayer. 

 

In other words, the monks and nuns were allowed to use the Jesus Prayer, just not the hesychastic methods. This is a point that surfaces again and again. The hesychastic methods are not essential to the Jesus prayer, and can be harmful to some people. The Jesus prayer itself is safe and suitable for "all Christians without exception" in the words of St. Ignatii. If one is simply repeating the prayer and keeping attention on the words, the risk of delusion comes only from daydreaming and lack of attention, as with any prayer.






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