Sunday, November 1, 2015

Making the sign of the Cross ( Saint Cyril of Jerusalem )

Let us not then be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the Cross our seal made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in everything; over the bread we eat, and the cups we drink; in our comings in, and goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are in the way and when we are still.

Great is that preservative; it is without price, for the poor’s sake; without toil, for the sick, since also its grace is from God. It is the Sign of the faithful, and the dread of evils; for He has triumphed over them in it, having made a shew of them openly; for when they see the Cross, they are reminded of the Crucified; they are afraid of Him, Who hath bruised the heads of the dragon. Despise not the Seal, because of the freeness of the Gift; but for this rather honor thy Benefactor.

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

Science Studies the Jesus Prayer


Can seven words—Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me—change lives? 

It may seem a lot of effort over just seven words: Finding 110 Eastern Orthodox Christians, giving them a battery of tests ranging from psychology to theology to behavioral medicine, and then repeating the tests 30 days later. But the seven words—"Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me" (a.k.a. the Jesus Prayer)—are among the most enduring in history. What Boston University psychologist George Stavros, Ph.D., wanted to find out was whether repeating the Jesus Prayer for ten minutes each day over the 30 days would affect these people's relationship with God, their relationships with others, their faith maturity, and their "self-cohesion" (levels of depression, anxiety, hostility, and interpersonal sensitivity). In short, Stavros was asking whether the Jesus Prayer can play a special role in a person's "journey to the heart."
The answer—at least on all the scales that showed any significant effect compared to the control group—turned out to be a resounding yes. Repeating the contemplative prayer deepened the commitment of these Christians to a relationship with a transcendent reality. Not only that, it reduced depression, anxiety, hostility, and feelings of inferiority to others. So powerful were the psychological effects of the prayer that Stavros urges his colleagues to keep it in mind as a healing intervention for clients. He recommends that the prayer be used along with communal practices so that one's relationship with God and others is "subtly and continuously tutored." In other words, going inside to find God does not mean going it alone.

Noetic Prayer ( Elder Joseph the Hesychast )

Heart prayer is not susceptible to delusion, unless one is passionate and already deluded. With heart prayer, as soon as the nous enters the heart, immediately its darkness is cleared and straightaway it becomes peaceful and calm. It rejoices, is sweetened, rests, and is cleansed. It rejoices and becomes like a small child free from passions. Bodily members which used to tempt him become peaceful and humble, just like the hand, the nose, and the rest of the members of the body.

Therefore, whoever wants to, let him taste this honey, and it will become a fountain of joy and happiness within him, unless one is cunning, hypocritical, envious, miserly, sensual, vainglorious, or in general passionate; if one wants to say the prayer while voluntarily remaining with his passions, unrepentant, incorrigible. Such a person obviously disdains the action of the prayer and the mercy of the Lord. The prayer helps everyone, but each person must struggle in accordance with his own strength. God gives His grace according to one’s intention. If anyone says the prayer without repenting, either the prayer will cease, or he will fall into delusion.

Women in particular make progress in the prayer more easily because of the self-denial and obedience they have to their spiritual guide. However, the faster they make progress, the more easily they fall into delusion, if they proceed thoughtlessly without caution.

It is not just a matter of saying the prayer, but it is also a matter of being attentive. You must be vigilant with your thoughts, masterfully controlling them. Otherwise, they will take control of you and in the end you will become the laughing-stock of the demons. I have never seen a soul make progress in the prayer without frankly confessing secret thoughts.

My child, do you want to crush the head of the serpent? Openly reveal your thoughts in confession. The strength of the Devil lies in cunning thoughts. Do you hold on to them? He remains hidden. Do you bring them to the light? He disappears. And then Christ rejoices, the prayer progresses, and the light of grace heals and brings peace to your nous and heart.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast. "Monastic Wisdom".