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6 years ago  ::  Jan 05, 2008 - 9:14PM #1
mattchapter25
Posts: 124
One way of thinking about Contemplative Spirituality is to see it as a response to the injunction in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray without ceasing". One classic method of doing this was developed in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. It is called the Jesus Prayer Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy upon me, a sinner. There are a series of profound meditations on this to be found in an ancient Church compilation, the Philokalia. An  easier introduction is found in the little 19th Century Russian story the Way of the Pilgrim. You can see more at http://www.carmelite.com/saints/other/j_12.htm
http://landru.i-link-2.net/shnyves/Pray … asing.html and
http://www.monachos.net/library/The_Jes … _the_Heart

He took my request kindly and asked me into his cell. " Come in," said he;... We went into his cell and he began to speak as follows. " The continuous interior Prayer of Jesus is a constant uninterrupted calling upon the divine Name of Jesus with the lips, in the spirit, in the heart; while forming a mental picture of His constant presence, and imploring His grace, during every occupation, at all times, in all places, even during sleep. The appeal is couched in these terms, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. One who accustoms himself to this appeal experiences as a result so deep a consolation and so great a need to offer the prayer always, that he can no longer live without it, and it will continue to voice itself within him of its own accord. Now do you understand what prayer without ceasing is!"


....I commenced this practice for the length of one or two hours at a time but, wit.h progress, I gradually prolonged the duration until, eventually, I became able to absorb myself in this exercise throughout almost the whole day. When fatigued or overtaken by sluggishness or doubts, I lost no time in opening Philokalia and, by reading the passage referring to the discipline of the heart, zeal and exhilaration in prayer again welled up. After the space of about three weeks, I began to feel a kind of pain in my heart, but this was later transformed into a very pleasant warmth and serenity. Encouraged by this experience, I became further absorbed in the practice of this prayer. I directed my all efforts toward this practice and made it my great delight. From that moment on, I began to perceive varied sorts of feelings in my mind and heart. In addition, a sweet warmth pervaded my whole body and I experienced sometimes the presence of God within me. As the result of the unspeakable joy felt in the invocation of the name of Jesus Christ, I was able to understand profoundly the implications of our Lord Christ's own words: The kingdom of God is within you.'
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 05, 2008 - 9:18PM #2
mattchapter25
Posts: 124
If pure mental prayer is not possible there is a way to combine mental and physical activity with a slightly more elaborate variant on the Jesus Prayer http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/questions/yq2/yq344.html

  What is a Russian Rosary?

Called Chotki, the Russian rosary is a version slightly different from the Byzantine rosary, dating back to the 7th century. It has 100 knots and is usually made of wool. Each group of ten knots is separated from the next group by a special knot. The cross at the end is usually also made of knots. It is said that Saint Basil had used a similar "rosary."

Each knot corresponds to a pious ejaculation called the Jesus Prayer. In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector or publican (Luke 18:9-15), the latter humbly stood in the back of the Temple and prayed, "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner." He went home justified, says Jesus in the parable. This promise, but also the explicit reference to the "Lord" gave the prayer the name Jesus Prayer. The invocation used for each knot may vary. The Russian rosary uses the following Jesus Prayers:

    Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on us.
    Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
    Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, by the prayers of Our Lady, have mercy on us.
    Most Holy Lady, Mother of God, pray for us sinners.

1)   The Russian rosary begins with the Invocation of God's Mercy:

    O God, cleanse me, a sinner (three times)

    O heavenly King, Paraclete, Spirit of Truth, who art present everywhere and dost permeate all things, Treasury of blessings and giver of life, come and take up Thy dwelling within us. Purify us from every stain and save our souls, O gracious Lord.

    Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Deathless One, have mercy on us (three times).

    Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be forever. Amen

   

    O Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, forgive us our sins.

    Most Holy God, pardon our transgressions. Do Thou Who are holy visit us and heal our infirmities for Thy name's sake. Lord, have mercy on us (three times).

    Glory be to the Father, etc.
    Our Father, etc.
    Come let us bow down to Our Lord God. Come let us bow down and adore Our Lord God.

    Come let us bow down and adore Christ Himself, Our Lord and God.

     

2)   It is followed by the recitation of either Ps 50 (Miserere) or Ps 129 (De Profundis)

3)   Next comes the Profession of Faith

4)   Most important is the Prayer of Jesus (100 times)

5)   The conclusion is an expression of praise addressed to Mary, and the Trinity:

    It is indeed proper to bless thee, Mother of God, the eternally blessed and completely sinless one and the Mother of Our God. Higher in honor than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, who without harm to thy virginity didst give birth to the Word of God. Thee we extol, true Mother of God.
    Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,
    now and ever unto ages of ages.
    Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
    By the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord, have mercy on us.
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 17, 2008 - 5:53PM #3
pio_child
Posts: 43
[COLOR="Sienna"]That is absolutely beautiful. I sometimes substitute the Jesus Prayer, for the Hail Mary on rosary beads. I have not seen the whole thing described.[/COLOR]
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6 years ago  ::  Jan 18, 2008 - 1:34AM #4
mattchapter25
Posts: 124
[QUOTE=pio_child;221188][COLOR="Sienna"]That is absolutely beautiful. I sometimes substitute the Jesus Prayer, for the Hail Mary on rosary beads. I have not seen the whole thing described.[/COLOR][/QUOTE]

Actually I kind of did it the other way round. I prayed the Jesus Prayer for many years and only seriously took up the Rosary about 18 months ago. I think that they are different forms of contemplative, meditative prayer. The Rosary is more Gospel centred and discursive. The Jesus Prayer is more about finding the pure stillness of Jesus in our heart.
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 17, 2008 - 2:29AM #5
Basil1951
Posts: 202
I became Orthodox less than 10 years ago, after growing up in western Christianity.  I had never heard of the Russian Rosary before; it is simple, it is straight-forward and it is beautiful.  I will incorporate it into my Lenten discipline. 

Thank you.
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 17, 2008 - 9:23PM #6
mattchapter25
Posts: 124
[QUOTE=Basil1951;293815]I became Orthodox less than 10 years ago, after growing up in western Christianity.  I had never heard of the Russian Rosary before; it is simple, it is straight-forward and it is beautiful.  I will incorporate it into my Lenten discipline. 

Thank you.[/QUOTE]

Are you familiar with the four homilies on Prayer by Theophan the Recluse? They may help your Lenten journey also http://www.monachos.net/library/Theopha … _on_Prayer

From the first homily-[COLOR="Navy"]

In order to facilitate the development of true prayer, take these steps: 1) keep a prayer rule according to the blessing of your spiritual father - not more than you can read unhurriedly on a normal day; 2) before you pray, in your free time become familiar with the prayer in your rule, fully take in each word and feel it, so that you would know in advance what should be in your soul as you read. It will be even better if you learn the prayers by heart. When you do this, then all of your prayers will be easy for you to remember and feel. There is only one final difficulty: your thoughts will always stray to other subjects, therefore: 3) you must struggle to keep your attention focused on the words of your prayer, knowing in advance that your mind will wander.

When your mind does wander during prayer, bring it back. When it wanders again, bring it back again. Each and every time that you read a prayer while your thoughts are wandering (and consequently you read it without attention and feeling,) then do not fail to read it again. Even if your mind wanders several times in the same place, read it again and again until you read it all the way through with understanding and feeling. In this way, you will overcome this difficulty so that the next time, perhaps, it will not come up again, or if it does return, it will be weaker. This is how one must act when the mind wanders. On the other hand it may happen that a particular word or phrase might act so strongly on the soul, that the soul no longer wants to continue with the prayer, and even though the lips continue praying, the mind keeps wandering back to that place which first acted on it. In this case: 4) stop, do not read further, but stand with attention and feeling in that place, and use the prayer in that place and the feelings engendered by it to feed your soul. Do not hurry to get yourself out of this state. If time cannot wait, it is better to leave your rule unfinished than to disturb this prayerful state. Maybe this feeling will stay with you all day like your guardian Angel! This sort of grace-filled action on the soul during prayer means that the spirit of prayer is becoming internalized, and consequently, maintaining this state is the most hopeful means of raising up and strengthening a spirit of prayer in your heart.

Finally, when you finish your prayers, do not immediately go off to any sort of work, but remain and think at least a little about what you have just finished and what now lies before you. If some feeling was given to you during prayer, keep it after you pray. If you completed your prayer rule in the true spirit of prayer, then you will not wish to quickly go about other work; this is a property of prayer. Thus our ancestors said when they returned from Constantinople: "he who has tasted sweet things does not desire bitter things". So it is with each person who has prayed well during his prayers. One should recognize that tasting this sweetness of prayer is the very goal of praying, and if praying leads to a prayerful spirit, then it is exactly through such a tasting.

If you will follow these few rules, then you will quickly see the fruit of prayerful labor. And he who fulfills them already without this instruction, of course, is already tasting this fruit. All praying leaves prayer in the soul - continual prayer in this manner gives it root, and patience in this work establishes a prayerful spirit.[/COLOR]
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 17, 2008 - 9:23PM #7
mattchapter25
Posts: 124
[QUOTE=Basil1951;293815]I became Orthodox less than 10 years ago, after growing up in western Christianity.  I had never heard of the Russian Rosary before; it is simple, it is straight-forward and it is beautiful.  I will incorporate it into my Lenten discipline. 

Thank you.[/QUOTE]

Are you familiar with the four homilies on Prayer by Theophan the Recluse? They may help your Lenten journey also http://www.monachos.net/library/Theopha … _on_Prayer

From the first homily-[COLOR="Navy"]

In order to facilitate the development of true prayer, take these steps: 1) keep a prayer rule according to the blessing of your spiritual father - not more than you can read unhurriedly on a normal day; 2) before you pray, in your free time become familiar with the prayer in your rule, fully take in each word and feel it, so that you would know in advance what should be in your soul as you read. It will be even better if you learn the prayers by heart. When you do this, then all of your prayers will be easy for you to remember and feel. There is only one final difficulty: your thoughts will always stray to other subjects, therefore: 3) you must struggle to keep your attention focused on the words of your prayer, knowing in advance that your mind will wander.

When your mind does wander during prayer, bring it back. When it wanders again, bring it back again. Each and every time that you read a prayer while your thoughts are wandering (and consequently you read it without attention and feeling,) then do not fail to read it again. Even if your mind wanders several times in the same place, read it again and again until you read it all the way through with understanding and feeling. In this way, you will overcome this difficulty so that the next time, perhaps, it will not come up again, or if it does return, it will be weaker. This is how one must act when the mind wanders. On the other hand it may happen that a particular word or phrase might act so strongly on the soul, that the soul no longer wants to continue with the prayer, and even though the lips continue praying, the mind keeps wandering back to that place which first acted on it. In this case: 4) stop, do not read further, but stand with attention and feeling in that place, and use the prayer in that place and the feelings engendered by it to feed your soul. Do not hurry to get yourself out of this state. If time cannot wait, it is better to leave your rule unfinished than to disturb this prayerful state. Maybe this feeling will stay with you all day like your guardian Angel! This sort of grace-filled action on the soul during prayer means that the spirit of prayer is becoming internalized, and consequently, maintaining this state is the most hopeful means of raising up and strengthening a spirit of prayer in your heart.

Finally, when you finish your prayers, do not immediately go off to any sort of work, but remain and think at least a little about what you have just finished and what now lies before you. If some feeling was given to you during prayer, keep it after you pray. If you completed your prayer rule in the true spirit of prayer, then you will not wish to quickly go about other work; this is a property of prayer. Thus our ancestors said when they returned from Constantinople: "he who has tasted sweet things does not desire bitter things". So it is with each person who has prayed well during his prayers. One should recognize that tasting this sweetness of prayer is the very goal of praying, and if praying leads to a prayerful spirit, then it is exactly through such a tasting.

If you will follow these few rules, then you will quickly see the fruit of prayerful labor. And he who fulfills them already without this instruction, of course, is already tasting this fruit. All praying leaves prayer in the soul - continual prayer in this manner gives it root, and patience in this work establishes a prayerful spirit.[/COLOR]
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