Thursday, 10 July 2014

Effects of the Jesus Prayer

Tears, or feeling tearful, seem to be the norm at the moment whenever I say the Jesus Prayer. As I have written before they don't seem to be connected with any feeling of sorrow for sin but just the cry for mercy which comes as part of the prayer. Here is Kallistos Ware from the same previous article on St. Gregory of Sinai talking about the "Effects of the Jesus Prayer: Joyful Sorrow, Warmth and Light."

While excluding thoughts and images from the practice of the Jesus Prayer, St Gregory of Sinai has much to say about the feelings which should accompany the invocation of the Name. There is a strongly ‘affective’ tone about all that he writes. In his eyes, the Jesus Prayer is not a magical incantation, a verbal equivalent of the Tibetan prayer wheel, but a supplication to be offered with full intensity of feeling, with vivid love and personal affection for the Saviour. The feelings of which Gregory speaks are at once joyful and penitential, confident yet hesitant: a con­junction that he sums up in the composite term χαρμολύπη, ‘joyful grief’ borrowed from Climacus.The saying of the Jesus Prayer leads, he writes, to ‘an exultation filled with trembling’, to ‘mingled joy and fear’: 'the soul rejoices because of the visitation and the mercy of God, but it fears and trembles at his coming, for it is guilty of many sins.’ Such is the double effect of the invocation.

As this last quotation from Gregory makes plain, from one point of view the Jesus Prayer is a cry for forgiveness, an expression of mourning (penthos) and compunction (katanyxis): ‘Lord Jesus Christ . . . have mercy on me’. This penitential aspect of the invocation of the Name is heavily underlined in the Life of Gregory by Patriarch Kallistos:

Gathering all his perceptions inwardly within himself, exerting to the utmost his mind together with his spirit, fixing and binding it fast and in a word nailing it to the Cross of Christ, with frequent repetition he said in prayer, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner’, with his soul full of anguish, with groanings and a broken heart; and he made the ground wet with the warm tears that flowed in abundance from his eyes.

The particular form in which the Prayer is here given, ‘. . . a sinner’, naturally gives special emphasis to this penitential aspect. The Prayer is linked directly with Christ crucified - ‘. . . nailing his mind to the Cross of Christ . . .’– and it is closely associated with the gift of tears.
See the article here: 

1 comment:

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