Friday, 17 January 2014

Praying the Name

In what is surely an important ecumenical gesture, Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, one of the leading exponents of Eastern Orthdoxy in the UK, has written a booklet on the Jesus Prayer for the Catholic Truth Society (CTS). The Jesus Prayer is the most popular devotional prayer in the Orthodox Church and increasingly popular in the West. A simple and direct method of invoking the mercy of Jesus Christ by repeating his Holy Name, it is a way of obeying St Paul’s instruction to “pray always”. In an increasingly noisy and frenetic world, the Jesus Prayer offers us an oasis of inner peace and a lifeline back to God.

At the same time, a new booklet from CTS on The Name of God by Canon Michael Lewis in the Deeper Christianity series explores the basis for the Jesus Prayer in the revelation of the Name both in the Old Testament and in the New.

The following beautiful passage is taken from pp. 40-41 of The Jesus Prayer by A Monk of the Eastern Church (Archimandrite Lev Gillet).
"The Jesus Prayer must be 'breathed' continually. When the intellect has been purified and unified by it, our thoughts swim in it as merry dolphins in a peaceful sea. Then a dialogue begins in which Christ, who has become the inner master, makes known his will to the heart. When the Jesus Prayer is understood in this way, clearly its final aim is not mystical silence but the hearing of the divine word. We do not remain exterior to the name invoked, but the invocation allows us to 'participate in the holy name of Jesus.' It gives us the virtues of temperance and continence. The name of Jesus comes into our life first of all as a lamp in the darkness; next it is like moonlight, and finally like the sunrise. Being the sun of our intellect, it creates within it luminous thoughts, to which it communicates its own splendour, thoughts resembling the sun. It is love which elevates us – we should notice the part played by divine love in this process of transformation – and makes us higher than angels. To pronounce the name of Jesus in a holy way is an all-sufficient and surpassing aim for any human life."
Several postings on this theme will be found elsewhere on this site, for example under dates 3 Jan 2014, 6 Nov 2013, 26 Aug 2013, and 15 Apr 2011.

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