Friday, April 25, 2008


Throughout my adult life I have always been attracted to contemplative prayer, and so I have filled my library with books on it and have gone to places that foster this type of prayer. Because I believe that it is integral to the Christian life to "pray always" I thought that I would start this blog dedicated to the Jesus Prayer. I wanted to provide a place for people to share their thoughts and experiences of prayer. In this we can edify each other, pray for each other and grow in our faith.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Father Matthew and Pope Benedict

During a weekend retreat (July 9) at St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, MA., Father Matthew gave a conference about Pope Benedict and how the Pope likened the Eucharist to "electricity" and "atomic fusion." He spoke about how whether the world recognizes it or not, the Eucharist is the source of grace and its power envelopes the whole world with its energy. On Saturday I went to the Abbey Church to take pictures while it was empty. I think based on what the Pope said regarding the Eucharist, you will find these pictures interesting. Even though I am sure that there is a natural explanation for the way they turned out, I did not do anything at all with these pictures. They are not re-touched.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Jesus Prayer

The Jesus Prayer has been used for many centuries mostly in the Greek Orthodox Church as well as the Russian Orthodox Church. And while it is a simple prayer to learn and to use, it is a most powerful prayer. It's power of course comes from the name of Jesus, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Phil. 2:10-11. It was developed in the Hesychast tradition of prayer by monks of the Greek Orthodox Church on Mount Athos. Many Roman Catholics such as myself use the prayer daily to center ourselves and to try and remain in the presence of God to fulfill the command of St. Paul, "to pray always." I Thess 5:17 There are many writings concerning the Jesus Prayer in the various traditions. The Philokalia is such a book. It contains many writings of the early church fathers that explain and teach the Prayer.
What exactly then is the Jesus Prayer?
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner." Some repeat this prayer while following the heartbeat. I have read many books that suggest using it with the breath instead. The theology behind the prayer is both profound and very simple. You cannot pray and declare that Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. So when you pray this prayer you are in effect allowing the Holy Spirit to pray within you the theological truth that Jesus is the source of everything that is good. I sometimes use the whole prayer in this way; on the intake of my breath I say (or think) the words, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God," and as I exhale I finish the prayer saying, "Have mercy on me, a sinner." This is said of course prayerfully and slowly, gently allowing the heart to speak to God. Writers like Thomas Merton have said that it is a perfect prayer in that the whole of theology is present in it. First we call Jesus the Lord. Actually we could probably stop there. We also are calling Jesus the Christ, thereby acknowledging his role as the Messiah and Saviour, and as the Son of God we remember his relationship in the Holy Trinity. After exalting the Lord in this manner filling our lungs with his presence and his Holy Name, we exhale reminding ourselves of our dependence on him by asking in all humility for His mercy and admitting what everyone knows in the depth of his being, that we are all sinners. This does not imply that it is a self-defeating attitude but one of hope that relies on the fact that while we are sinners the Lord still attends to our every prayer and to which we rely on Mercy and Forgiveness. Many times, I shorten the prayer somewhat to fit more easily to my pattern of breathing. The importance of the prayer lies in the name of Jesus. Sometimes I prefer, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

St. Hesychios The Priest

Forgetfulness can extinguish our guard over our intellect as water extinguishes fire; but the continuous repetition of the Jesus Prayer combined with strict watchfulness uproots it from our heart. The Jesus Prayer requires watchfulness as a lantern requires a candle. On Watchfulness and Holiness, 102

Saturday, April 19, 2008

St. Seraphim of Sarov

Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practice
the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ,
mentally saying: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me,
a sinner.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Video of Africa

A friend of mine goes to Africa each year and monitors monies that my wife's foundation sends. She sent me some pictures of the children that they are working with. I put together this video of one of her trips.