Saturday, July 31, 2010

Crawling our way back…

Contemplation becomes a way of life.  I don’t like to think of it so much as something I do, but something I am; so I often use the phrase “the contemplative stance.”  It’s a way of living, moving, and being in this world.  The very word means “to see.”

I fully admit that we don’t live all of our twenty-four hours there.  The world keeps pulling us back into our false and small self.  “Put on this hat.  Attach to this identity.  Take on this hurt.  Put on this self-importance,” we say to ourselves.  It’s all right as long as we know how to take it back off again, and rather quickly, if possible.  “Who was I before I was hurt?” is your original face, your true identity in God, your own “immaculate conception.”  We must all crawl our way back to such innocence and such freedom.

Richard Rohr, adapted from Contemplative Prayer (CD)

The Jesus Prayer can be used for worship and petition; as intercession, invocation, adoration, and as thanksgiving. It is a means by which we lay all that is in our hearts, both for God and man, at the feet of Jesus. It is a means of communion with God and with all those who pray. The fact that we can train our hearts to go on praying even when we sleep, keeps us uninterruptedly within the community of prayer. This is no fanciful statement; many have experienced this life-giving fact. We cannot, of course, attain this continuity of prayer all at once, but it is achievable; for all that is worthwhile we must “…run with patience the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1) …

Prayer has always been of very real importance to me, and the habit formed in early childhood of morning and evening prayer has never left me; but in the practice of the Jesus Prayer I am but a beginner. I would, nonetheless, like to awaken interest in this prayer because, even if I have only touched the hem of a heavenly garment, I have touched it—and the joy is so great I would share it with others. It is not every man’s way of prayer; you may not find in it the same joy that I find, for your way may be quite a different one—yet equally bountiful.

In fear and joy, in loneliness and companionship, it is ever with me. Not only in the silence of daily devotions, but at all times and in all places. It transforms, for me, frowns into smiles; it beautifies, as if a film had been washed off an old picture so that the colours appear clear and bright, like nature on a warm spring day after a shower. Even despair has become attenuated and repentance has achieved its purpose.

When I arise in the morning, it starts me joyfully upon a new day. When I travel by air, land, or sea, it sings within my breast When I stand upon a platform and face my listeners, it beats encouragement. When I gather my children around me, it murmurs a blessing. And at the end of a weary day, when I lay me down to rest, I give my heart over to Jesus: “(Lord) into thy hands I commend my spirit”. I sleep—but my heart as it beats prays on: “JESUS.”

Princess Ileana of Romania, Introduction to the Jesus Prayer

[The Jesus Prayer] is a prayer in which the first step of the spiritual journey is taken: the recognition of our own sinfulness, our essential estrangement from God and the people around us. The Jesus Prayer is a prayer in which we admit our desperate need of a Saviour. For “if we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth” (1 John 1:8).

Fr. Steven Peter Tsichlis, The Jesus Prayer

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