Orthodox Thought for the Day


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Start the day out right

Let your first task, as soon as you awaken, be the sign of the cross, and your first words—the words of the Jesus Prayer. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

On acceptance of sorrows

Accept sorrows with thanksgiving and self-reproach, and the Lord will help you and forgive you all your sins. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Living according to your own will

It is better to be a disciple of a disciple than to live according to your own will.  In the writings of the holy fathers they talk about this.  It is not shameful to obey the advice of your spiritual father, but rather salvific and indispensable; and he who does not listen to good advice will be punished.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Courage needed

In difficulties, misunderstandings, and in all situations our nearest and most reliable recourse is only turning to the Lord and submitting to Him all our sorrows and cares.  At the same time one should pray to God for all those involved in the matter, and everything will turn out well.  The Lord enlightens every man who comes into the world and gives peace to our souls.  Despondency and sorrow are useless in a matter requiring courage. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fleeing oneself

A place does not save you.  There is no place where you can flee from yourself. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

On cordiality

With all the people you meet on the path of life, behave as you would like them to behave with you. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

No release yet for Archbishop Jovan

Please continue to pray….may God sustain, console and give courage to Archbishop Jovan and those in his diocese.  Pres. Candace 

Press Release
19 January 2015 

On behalf of The Archbishop Jovan Fund USA

Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, President

Disappointment and Lies No Release for Archbishop Jovan on 19 January 2012!
by Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, President of The Archbishop Jovan Fund USA

"The Lord hear thee in the day of affliction..." Psalm 19:1.

Heartfelt disappointment and lies as no release for Archbishop Jovan on January 19, 2015.

Why no release of Archbishop Jovan we do not know as we must endure this great disappointment for the Archbishop himself, his brother Bishops, priest, monks, nuns, and faithful. We have to keep our faith that no release today but that we still might see another day of the Archbishop release.

What are the excuses? What have you done to keep the Archbishop in jail? What shall be the fate of the Archbishop be in the days ahead or does anyone care? How long shall the Archbishop endure due also to his health?

The highest of earthly levels of the good Patriarchs, the good fellow Orthodox bishops around the world, the priest who cried out in constant prayers, and the monks and the nuns as well as the faithful Orthodox and Non-Orthodox Christians of our Lord have called upon you the courts to release the Archbishop. However no release on this day as promised to the world media?

When shall you hear our voices we ask the courts and those responsible because we all know the Archbishop is innocent and just, as well as a man of God.

Let us now continue to pray as we shall endure with love for God and for one another, but at the same time shall we be patient. This is our Christian responsibility.

At this hour and days ahead we simply cannot remain silent as Archbishop Jovan remains in jail but we must roar like a lion, but at the same time be meek as a lamb.

May our Lord God be merciful to us and our strength.

Please now read what the diocese of Archbishop Jovan has announced on this sad day:

section: archbishop\announcements


The Council of the Court of First Instance Skopje I, on January 9, 2015, made the decision that Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje should be released from prison.

Last week, the Public Prosecution issued a written statement that it will not file an appeal against that court decision for releasing of Archbishop Jovan from prison.

Today, when it is a public holiday and a non-working day in R. Macedonia, the Public Prosecution has altered its stance, and through the media informed the public that it has indeed filed an appeal against the mentioned court decision, exactly on this day.

Hence, Archbishop Jovan was not released from prison today, in the foreseen time-period, despite the fact that there has been a court decision for his release. 

Peace to your soul!
God love and bless you! 

Humbly in Christ our Lord,

+ Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes

Who prays for you and with you!

O Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner!
The Jesus Prayer

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Honoring Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, 18 Jan 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015 
Source:  http://byztex.blogspot.com/2015/01/christ-lover-of-innocent.html

NEW ICON:  Christ the Lover of the Innocent

Uncut Mountain Supply is introducing a special new icon, "Christ the Lover of the Innocent" to encourage prayer and action on behalf of the millions of innocent lives taken each year in our country.

For the release of this icon, we are offering a 20% discount for all orders of $75.00 or more with the hopes that it will encourage the purchasing of this icon with the result of increased prayer for the resolution this ongoing problem. USE THE CODE: 20FOR75

Pray for the release of Archbishop Jovan

It is possible that Archbishop Jovan could be released tomorrow, January 19, 2015—please offer a prayer for his release, by the mercy of God.  Thank you, Pres. Candace

December 12, 2014, marked whole three years of imprisonment of Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje.

On December 12, 2011, he voluntarily enter his homeland, at the border-crossing near Bitola, where he was arrested. Since that day, the state apparatus executes torture incomprehensible for the contemporary democratic societies upon him.

In the course of these three years, the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric were allowed to visit him only once, in August 2013.

At the same time, although Archbishop Jovan fulfills all conditions required by the law to be granted a two-day leave from prison, the prison authorities are violating all legal provisions and persistently deny him the leave that the law grants him.

Archbishop Jovan, who is currently imprisoned for the eighth time in the last twelve years, has diabetes. He is placed in a cell together with other thirty-three prisoners. The prison conditions are substandard, the cell has one toilet, and the overall conditions are altogether further deteriorating his health.

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights declared Archbishop Jovan a political prisoner.
Source:  http://www.poa-info.org/eng

Thursday, January 15, 2015

More on newly glorified St. Paisios

Here is link to a short (about 51 minutes) Russian made film (in Greek) with English subtitles. It is based on the book of life of the saint. 

There is so much information available, but this film condenses quite a bit.

May we receive a greater measure of God’s grace and mercy through his intercessions.  Wondrous is God in His Saints!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Elder Paisios canonized as St. Paisios today!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Elder Paisios Canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate

St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain (+1994) (source)
The Greek Religious News Site Romfea.gr posts that Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain (+1994) has been canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The official announcement from the Patriarchate is available here.
God is wondrous among His Saints! May we have his blessing!

Selected hymns to St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain***
Apolytikion in the First Tone
The offspring of Farasa, and the adornment of Athos, and the imitator of the former righteous, equal in honor, O Paisios let us honor O faithful, the vessel full of graces, who hastens speedily to those who cry out: glory to Him Who gave you strength, glory to Him Who crowned you, glory to Him Who grants through you healings for all.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The most-famed ascetic of the Holy Mountain, and the newly-enlightened light of the Church, let us praise him with hymns with all our heart, for he leads the faithful towards a perfect life, filling them with rivers of gifts, therefore we cry out: Hail, O Father Paisios.
On the this day (July 12th), the memory of our venerable Father Paisios the New, of the Holy Mountain, who reposed in peace in the year 1994.
Paisios, the tree of Mount Athos,
You were shown to be full of fruit, O Most-venerable one.
On the twelfth, Paisios reposed.
Rejoice the communicant with the Venerable, the pride of Athos, the adornment of Monastics, Rejoice the new teacher of the Church, O godly-minded Paisios, our boast.
***Note: I include amateur translations of a few hymns for those who wish to seek his intercessions at this time. There are several services written to St. Paisios in Greek, and I will refrain from additional translations, for several reasons, but especially until we know which service will get the final approval. These are taken from the Greek service written by Metropolitan Joel of Edessa.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, January 12, 2015

On giving and receiving offense

Know, my brother, that is someone offends another either in deed or word, later he himself will be offended a hundredfold more. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Approach the Scriptures prayerfully

Do not approach the mystery-filled words of the Scriptures without prayer and a request for assistance from God.  Say, Lord grant me to become aware of the power in the words.  Consider prayer to be the key to insights into Truth in the Scriptures. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Spiritual obedience in daily life

Spiritual obedience is necessary in daily life.  Prefer the will of another to your own.  Accept with a positive attitude everything your spiritual father, or your brother or sister, asks of you.  In this way, little by little, an atmosphere will be created within you and around you in which your heart will become very gentle, very sensitive to every inner movement, to every spiritual variation.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

On problem solving

When confronted with a problem, those who are greater put themselves at the service of others.  This is the only possible solution.  As Christ says, those who wish to be the greatest must become the servants and slaves even of the weakest. 



Friday, January 2, 2015

Love for the Serbian Orthodox Christians of Kosovo / Metohija

Beloved readers, 

From my heart, I hope the First Day of Christmas began a joyous and abundant celebration for you and your loved ones.  My family was invited to the table of a lovely Christian family who, with much love, prepared a beautiful feast to celebrate Christmas Day. The table lacked nothing—set with meats, cheeses, salads, olives, oil, bread, potatoes, wine, coffee, tea, pastries, candies.  All the things that make one’s heart happy and fill the belly while expanding the waistband.  It was a lavish meal, lovingly prepared by those who love Christ and His church. 

Is there anything wrong with setting a table of abundance on a major feast day such as Christmas?  No, beloved readers, I don’t think so.  It is an imitation of how God sets a banquet for us, lavishly, with all good things.  Unfortunately, due to sin in the world a good bit of inequity exists.  Some Christians who may have been able to set an abundant holiday table in the past, no longer can.  Oppression and/or persecution sees to that.  Lands are ravaged, goods are hard to come by.  Items which were once affordable become out of reach.  Homes are cold and often dark due to Christian persecution.  I think the love that resides in the hearts of many Christians becomes pricked when hearing of the hardship of brethren around the world.  Sadly we do not always realize that there are ways to encourage and benefit the brethren in time of persecution.  There are ways to bring hope and comfort to the oppressed.  God makes a way and I will share one with you.   

A couple days ago I forwarded a message from Fr. Nektarios Serfes (Boise, Idaho) president of The Decani Monastery Relief Fund.  I know Fr. Nektarios, I vouch for his good and generous heart and his love for the people of Kosovo / Metohija (Serbia).  When Fr. traveled there back in October, within a week he distributed nearly $12,500 in humanitarian assistance to the sufferers there.  Those people are an oppressed population of Orthodox Christians.  Some of you shared in that ministry through your donations.  Sadly, Fr. returned with yet a heavy heart as he saw that conditions were, in his words, “deplorable,” and needs for assistance increasing.  Christian families live in cold homes, children attend cold schools, electricity gets turned off at night by the power company to the Serbian homes in particular, costs of food, fuel and medicine are increasing.  If you understand the meaning of genocide, you can connect the dots as to what is underway in Kosovo/Metohija.  What will become of the remaining Christian population?  The area has been, and is, undergoing a slow crucifixion.     

What can be done?  Certainly prayer and raising of awareness.  But, also, practical help is greatly needed and appreciated. 

Right now, the Serbian Orthodox are looking toward celebrating the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity on January 7.  Fr. Nektarios has a list of 200 families whose needs are most acute.  His goal is to raise enough money to buy each family a single pig (pork) that will feed a family of four for approximately one month.  The cost, per pig, is $150.   This pig would be the nourishing base of a Christmas holiday meal for each family.   

Let me ask you:  would you be able to bless one or more Serbian Orthodox families in Kosovo / Metohija this holiday season?    Would you be willing, as a messenger of the love of God, to feed others who simply cannot do so on their own?  If this is asking too much, could you fund part of a pig for a family?  I understand that not everyone can give the max, but most people can give something.  I believe it is truth to say we have not experienced the kind of deprivation and persecution these people have and it’s been going on for a number of years already.  The suffering of these people is, primarily, due to their confession of the Christian faith.   

God has given us an opportunity to be His messengers of relief and love within the Body of Christ.  We are one—and we will meet one another someday.  Wouldn’t you love to be greeted as someone who had shown a brother or sister you’d never met the love of Christ?  How your heart would rejoice to hear, “Your love and care gave me courage at a dark time of life.  Your love and care fed me for Christ’s sake—I was hungry and you gave me to eat—just like the Gospel says.  You are truly my brother (or sister) in Christ!”  Money in the hands of Christians is simply a tool.  We handle God’s money and release it for use as His trusted stewards.  Think of all the good it can do—think of the refreshment for tired, discouraged souls!  Think of such giving as an eternal investment, as it is just that. 

If you have been blessed this holiday season, please consider blessing these dear Christian sufferers in Serbia. I believe God is counting on our response because we are the ones who can make resources available.  We hold a tool of compassion and relief for others.  Be certain that the Decani Monastery Relief Fund will put your gift to good use.  It will be used to feed persecuted, needy Christian families & elderly in Kosovo/Metohija on January 7, 2015, the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity.  Your practical love will be the cause of their rejoicing! 

Please send your loving tax-deduction donation to the following address: 

Decani Monastery Relief Fund
c/o Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702


Use this link to reach the Paypal button to benefit the Fund:  http://www.thedecanifund.org/ 

God bless us all and thank you for your compassion,
Pres. Candace

Go forward with the Jesus Prayer

The Jesus Prayer: Method
By Archimandrite Sophrony

I propose to devote this chapter to setting out as briefly as possible the more important aspects of the Jesus Prayer and the commonsense views regarding this great culture of the heart that I met with on the Holy Mountain.

Year after year monks repeat the prayer with their lips, without trying by any artificial means to join mind and heart. Their attention is concentrated on harmonizing their life with the commandments of Christ. According to ancient tradition mind unites with heart through Divine action when the monk continues in the ascetic feat of obedience and abstinence; when the mind, the heart and the very body of the 'old man' to a sufficient degree are freed from the dominion over them of sin; when the body becomes worthy to be 'the temple of the Holy Ghost' (cf. Rom. 6. 11-14). However, both early and present-day teachers occasionally permit recourse to a technical method of bringing the mind down into the heart. To do this, the monk, having suitably settled his body, pronounces the prayer with his head inclined on his chest, breathing in at the words 'Lord Jesus Christ, (Son of God)' and breathing out to the words 'have mercy upon me (a sinner)'. During inhalation the attention at first follows the movement of the air breathed in as far as the upper part of the heart. In this manner concentration can soon be preserved without wandering, and the mind stands side by side with the heart, or even enters within it. This method eventually enables the mind to see, not the physical heart but that which is happening within it-the feelings that creep in and the mental images that approach from without. With this experience, the monk acquires the ability to feel his heart, and to continue with his attention centered in the heart without further recourse to any psychosomatic technique.

True Prayer Comes Through Faith and Repentance
This procedure can assist the beginner to understand where his inner attention should be stayed during prayer and, as a rule, at all other times, too. Nevertheless, true prayer is not to be achieved thus. True prayer comes exclusively through faith and repentance accepted as the only foundation. The danger of psycho-technics is that not a few attribute too great significance to method qua method. In order to avoid such deformation the beginner should follow another practice which, though considerably slower, is incomparably better and more wholesome to fix the attention on the Name of Christ and on the words of the prayer. When contrition for sin reaches a certain level the mind naturally heeds the heart.

The Complete Formula
The complete formula of the Jesus Prayer runs like this: Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner, and it is this set form that is recommended. In the first half of the prayer we profess Christ-God made flesh for our salvation. In the second we affirm our fallen state, our sinfulness, our redemption. The conjunction of dogmatic confession with repentance makes the content of the prayer more comprehensive.

Stages of Development
It is possible to establish a certain sequence in the development of this prayer.

...First, it is a verbal matter: we say the prayer with our lips while trying to concentrate our attention on the Name and the words.
, we no longer move our lips but pronounce the Name of Jesus Christ, and what follows after, in our minds, mentally.
...In the third stage mind and heart combine to act together: the attention of the mind is centered in the heart and the prayer said there.
...Fourthly, the prayer becomes self-propelling.
This happens when the prayer is confirmed in the heart and, with no especial effort on our part, continues there, where the mind is concentrated.
the prayer, so full of blessing, starts to act like a gentle flame within us, as inspiration from on High, rejoicing the heart with a sensation of divine love and delighting the mind in spiritual contemplation. This last state is sometimes accompanied by a vision of Light.

Go step by step
A gradual ascent into prayer is the most trustworthy. The beginner who would embark on the struggle is usually recommended to start with the first step, verbal prayer, until body, tongue, brain and heart assimilate it. The time that this takes varies. The more earnest the repentance, the shorter the road.

The practice of mental prayer may for a while be associated with the hesychastic method-in other words, it may take the form of rhythmic or a-rhythmic articulation of the prayer as described above, by breathing in during the first half and breathing out during the second part. This can be genuinely helpful if one does not lose sight of the fact that every invocation of the Name of Christ must be inseparably coupled with a consciousness of Christ Himself. The Name must not be detached from the Person of God, lest prayer be reduced to a technical exercise and so contravene the commandment, 'Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain' (EX. 20.7; Deut. 5.11).

Attention of Mind gained
When the attention of the mind is fixed in the heart it is possible to control what happens in the heart, and the battle against the passions assumes a rational character. The enemy is recognized and can be driven off by the power of the Name of Christ. With this ascetic feat the heart becomes so highly sensitive, so discerning, that eventually when praying for anyone the heart can tell almost at once the state of the person prayed for. Thus the transition takes place from mental prayer to prayer of the mind and heart, which may be followed by the gift of prayer that proceeds of itself.

Do Not Hurry
We try to stand before God with the whole of our being. Invocation of the Name of God the Savior, uttered in the fear of God, together with a constant effort to live in accordance with the commandments,, little by little leads to a blessed fusion of all our powers. We must never seek to hurry in our ascetic striving. It. is essential to discard any idea of achieving the maximum in the shortest possible time. God does not force us but neither can we compel Him to anything whatsoever. Results obtained by artificial means do not last long and, more importantly, do not unite our spirit with the Spirit of the Living God.

It's a Long Path
In the atmosphere of the world today prayer requires super human courage. The whole ensemble of natural energies is in opposition. To hold on to prayer without distraction signals victory on every level of existence. The way is long and thorny but there comes a moment when a heavenly ray pierces the dark obscurity, to make an opening through which can be glimpsed the source of the eternal Divine Light. The Jesus Prayer assumes a meta-cosmic dimension. St John the Divine asserts that in the world to come our deification will achieve plenitude since 'we shall see Him as He is'. 'And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure ... Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him' (cf. 1John 3.2,3,6). In order in Christ's Name to receive forgiveness of sins and the promise of the Father we must strive to dwell on His Name 'until we be endued with power from on high' (cf. Luke24-49).

In advising against being carried away by artificial practices such as transcendental meditation I am but repeating the age-old message of the Church, as expressed by St Paul: 'Exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men' (1Tim. 4.7-10)

It's Not Like Transcendental Meditation
The way of the fathers requires firm faith and long patience", whereas our contemporaries want to seize every spiritual gift, including even direct contemplation of the Absolute God, by force and speedily, and will often draw a parallel between prayer in the Name of Jesus and yoga or transcendental meditation and the like. I must stress the danger of such errors-the danger of looking upon prayer as one of the simplest and easiest 'technical' means leading to immediate unity with God. It is imperative to draw a very definite line between the Jesus Prayer and every other ascetic theory. He is deluded who endeavors to divest himself mentally of all that is transitory and relative in order to cross some invisible threshold, to realize his eternal origin, his identity with the Source of all that exists; in order to return and merge with Him, the Nameless transpersonal Absolute. Such exercises have enabled many to rise to supra-rational contemplation of being; to experience a certain mystical trepidation; to know the state of silence of the mind, when mind goes beyond the boundaries of time and space. In such-like states man may feel the peacefulness of being withdrawn from the continually changing phenomena of the visible world; may even have a certain experience of eternity. But the God of Truth, the Living God, is not in all this. It is man's own beauty, created in the image of God, that is contemplated and seen as Divinity, whereas he himself still continues within the confines of his creatureliness. This is a vastly important concern. The tragedy of the matter lies in the fact that man sees a mirage which, in his longing for eternal life, he mistakes for a genuine oasis. This impersonal form of ascetics leads finally to an assertion of divine principle in the very nature of man. Man is then drawn to the idea of self-deification-the cause of the original fall. The man who is blinded by the imaginary majesty of what he contemplates has in fact set his foot on the path to self-destruction. He has discarded the revelation of a Personal God. He finds the principle of the Person-Hypostasis a limiting one, unworthy of the Absolute. He tries to strip himself of like limitations and return to the state which he imagines has belonged to him since before his coming into this world. This movement into the depths of his own being is nothing else but attraction towards the non-being from which we were called by the will of the Creator.

Knowledge of Personal God
The true Creator disclosed Himself to us as a Personal Absolute. The whole of our Christian life is based on knowledge of God, the First and the Last, Whose Name is I AM. Our prayer must always be personal, face to Face. He created us to be joined in His Divine Being, without destroying our personal character. It is this form of immortality that was promised to us by Christ. Like St Paul we would not 'be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life'. For this did God create us and 'hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit' (2 Cor. 5.4,5).

Personal immortality is achieved through victory over the world - a mighty task. The Lord said, 'Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world' (John 10. 3 3), and we know that the victory was not an easy one. 'Beware of false prophets ... Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it' (Matt. 7.13-115).

Wherein lies destruction? In that people depart from the Living God.

To believe in Christ one must have either the simplicity of little children - 'Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven' (Matt. 18.3)-or else, like St Paul, be fools for Christ's sake. 'We are fools for Christ's sake ... we are weak ... we are despised ... we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day' (1 Cor. 4. 10, 13). However, 'other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ' (1 Cor. 3 .11). ‘Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me' (1 Cor. 4. 16). In the Christian experience cosmic consciousness comes from prayer like Christ's Gethsemane prayer, not as the result of abstract philosophical cogitations.

When the Very God reveals Himself in a vision of Uncreated Light, man naturally loses every desire to merge into a transpersonal Absolute. Knowledge which is imbued with life (as opposed to abstract knowledge) can in no wise be confined to the intellect: there must be a real union with the act of Being. This is achieved through love: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart ... and with all thy mind' (Matt. 22.37). The commandment bids us love. Therefore love is not something given to us: it must be acquired by an effort made of our own free will. The injunction is addressed first to the heart as the spiritual center of the individual. Mind is only one of the energies of the human 1. Love begins in the heart, and the mind is confronted with a new interior event and contemplates Being in the Light of Divine love.

A Difficult Task
There is no ascetic feat more difficult, more painful, than the effort to draw close to God, Who is Love (cf. i John 4.8, 16). Our inner climate varies almost from day to day: now we are troubled because we do not understand what is happening about us; now inspired by a new flash of knowledge. The Name Jesus speaks to us of the extreme manifestation of the Father's love for us (cf.John 3.16). In proportion as the image of Christ becomes ever more sacred to us, and His word is perceived as creative energy, so a marvelous peace floods the soul while a luminous aura envelops heart and head. Our attention may hold steady. Sometimes we continue thus, as if it were a perfectly normal state to be in, not recognizing that it is a gift from on High. For the most part we only realize this union of mind with heart when it is interrupted.

In the Man Christ Jesus 'dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily' (Col. 2.9). in Him there is not only God but the whole human race. When we pronounce the Name Jesus Christ we place ourselves before the plenitude both of Divine Being and created being. We long to make His life our life; to have Him take His abode in us. In this lies the meaning of deification. But Adam's natural longing for deification at the very outset took a wrong turning which led to a terrible deviation. His spiritual vision was insufficiently established in Truth.

Our life can become holy in all respects only when true knowledge of its metaphysical basis is coupled with perfect love towards God and our fellow-men. When we firmly believe that we are the creation of God the Primordial Being, it will be obvious that there is no possible deification for us outside the Trinity. If we recognize that in its ontology all human nature is one, then for the sake of the unity of this nature we shall strive to make love for our neighbor part of our being.

Our most dire enemy is pride. Its power is immense. Pride saps our every aspiration, vitiates our every endeavor. Most of us fall prey to its insinuations. The proud man wants to dominate, to impose his own will on others; and so conflict arises between brethren. The pyramid of inequality is contrary to revelation concerning the Holy Trinity in Whom there is no greater, no lesser; where each Person possesses absolute plenitude of Divine Being.

The Kingdom of Christ is founded on the principle that whosoever would be first should be the servant of all (cf. Mark 9.3 5). The man who humbles himself shall be raised up, and vice versa: he who exalts himself shall be brought low. In our struggle for prayer we shall cleanse our minds and hearts from any urge to prevail over our brother. Lust for power is death to the soul. People are lured by the grandeur of power but they forget that 'that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God' (Matt. 16.15). Pride incites us to criticize, even scorn our weaker brethren; but the Lord warned us to 'take heed that we despise not one of these little ones' (cf. Matt. i8.io). If we give in to pride all our practice of the Jesus Prayer will be but profanation of His Name. 'He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked' (1 John2.6). He who verily loves Christ will devote his whole strength to obeying His word. I stress this because it is our actual method for learning to pray. This, and not any psychosomatic techniques, is the right way.

Not a Christine Yoga
I have lingered on the dogmatic justification for the Jesus Prayer largely because in the last decade or so the practice of this prayer has been distorted into a so-called 'Christian yoga' and mistaken for 'transcendental meditation'. Every culture, not only every religious culture, is concerned with ascetic exercises. If a certain similarity either in their practice or their outward manifestations, or even their mystical formulation, can be discerned, that does not at all imply that they are alike fundamentally. Outwardly similar situations can be vastly different in inner content.

When we contemplate Divine wisdom in the beauty of the created world, we are at the same time attracted still more strongly by the imperishable beauty of Divine Being as revealed to us by Christ. The Gospel for us is Divine Self-Revelation. In our yearning to make the Gospel word the substance of our whole being we free ourselves by the power of God from the domination of passions. Jesus is the one and only Savior in the true sense of the word. Christian prayer is effected by the constant invocation of His Name: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy upon us and upon Thy world.

Though prayer in the Name of Jesus in its ultimate realization unites man with Christ fully, the human hypostasis is not obliterated, is not lost in Divine Being like a drop of water in the ocean. 'I am the light of the world ... I am the truth and the life' (John 8.12; 14.6). For the Christian-Being, Truth,'Life are not 'what' but 'who'. Where there is no personal form of being, there is no living form either. Where in general there is no life, neither is there good or evil; light or darkness. 'Without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life' (John 1:3).

When contemplation of Uncreated Light is allied to invocation of the Name of Christ, the significance of this Name as 'the kingdom of God come with power' (Mark 9.1) is made particularly clear, and the spirit of man hears the voice of the Father: 'This is my beloved Son' (Mark 9.7). Christ in Himself showed us the Father: 'he that hath seen me hath seen the Father' (John 14:9). Now we know the Father in the same measure as we have known the Son. 'I and my Father are one' (John 10.30). And the Father bears witness to His Son. We therefore pray, 90 Son of God, save us and Thy world.'

To acquire prayer is to acquire eternity. When the body lies dying, the cry 'Jesus Christ' becomes the garment of the soul; when the brain no longer functions and other prayers are difficult to remember, in the light of the divine knowledge that proceeds from the Name our spirit will rise into life incorruptible.

From His Life is Mine by Archimandrite Sophrony, trans. Rosemary Edmonds,St. Valdimir Seminary Press, pp 112-120

With appreciation to http://www.orthodoxprayer.org/Articles_files/Sophrony-Jesus%20Prayer.html where this article is posted on-line.