Metropolitan Moses - On the Holy Transfiguration and the Jesus Prayer
On the Holy Transfiguration and the Jesus Prayer.
By Metropolitan Moses
2009Today we celebrate the mystery hidden from before the ages.Today on the Feast the Transfiguration we come face to face with our Salvation. God become Man, revealing His divine Grace before His apostles and making manifest the reason for our existence in an effulgence of light. The Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End has come to make man new through His indwelling. Christianity is not merely a set of “moral laws” or an external code of rules and regulations. The God-Man has come to join the fallen race of Adam to Himself and our salvation is participation in the Divine Grace made manifest on Tabor.As it is written our Lord took Peter James and John and ascended the mountain to pray and in an effulgence of Glory the voice of the Father was heard, saying, “This is My beloved Son In Whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him” (Matt 17:5). If any of us are to partake of the Glory made manifest at the Transfiguration we glorify God through our steadfast adherence to His teachings. This is the significance of the double meaning of “Orthodoxy,” that is, the glory of divine grace and the glorification of true doctrine.Our Savior is the Way, the Truth and the Life and the feast of the Transfiguration is a symbolic type of our pursuit of union with God.Our Lord took Peter and James and John up into a mountain to pray. Unless we depart from the unenlightened life of the worldly passions and follow in the footsteps of the Apostles of Christ and ascend the mountain of prayer, we will not see the light of the Glory of God. It is prayer that sets us apart as Christians and we see from the Gospel account what is necessary. The face of our Lord was altered and all things were filled with light and “Moses and Elias…appeared in glory” (Luke 9:30-31), that is, they participated in the glory of God. And the topic of their conversation with the Lord was “His departure which He was to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30-31). In other words, they spoke to Him of the Cross. Our spiritual journey to God through prayer is inextricably bound to the Cross, that is, the great mystery of the self-sacrificing love of the God-Man.The feast of the Transfiguration gives us an insight in our pursuit of the Jesus Prayer. If one prays the Jesus Prayer with discretion, it is the beginning and source of attaining to Christ like self-sacrificing love. Humble submission to the afflictions in life that God allows to come upon us is an integral part of our pursuit of the Jesus Prayer.The words of our Savior to the Apostles, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4-5) are pregnant with meaning for one who wishes to abide in our Lord through the Jesus Prayer. Yet, in this same passage our Savior describes the necessary suffering that is part of the spiritual life, “…My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He pruneth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:1-2).In a letter to one of his disciples, Starets Makari of Optina comments on this:
When practicing the Jesus Prayer, remember that the most important thing of all is humility; then the ability --not the decision only -- always to maintain a keen sense of responsibility toward God, toward one's spiritual director, toward people, and even things. Remember too that Isaac of Syria warns us that God's wrath visits all who refuse the bitter cross of agony, the cross of active suffering, and who, striving after visions and special graces of prayer, waywardly seek to appropriate the glories of the Cross. He also says, "God's grace comes of itself, suddenly, without seeing it approach. It comes when the place is clean.' Therefore, carefully, diligently, constantly clean the place; sweep it with the broom of humility."--Starets Makari of Optina MonasteryIt is through prayerfully bearing our cross in a spirit of self-sacrificing love and humility that we participate in the Glory of God.May the Lord grant you and your families to participate in His Uncreated Glory. Amen.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------You write that, having lost the prayer of the heart, you have been left without any weapons. I already wrote to you that in all your temptations, and in all the unusual occurrences which happen to you, you must not leave prayer. If you cannot pray in your heart, pray in your mind or with your lips; it does not matter how you pray as long as you do not leave prayer. During the rite of tonsuring it is said to the one being tonsured that he should always have the name of the Lord Jesus in his mind, in his heart, in his thoughts and on his lips. One must be attentive not only in the heart but also in the mind and thoughts and on the lips. But in you there is observable an inappropriate insistence on having things your own way. You insist on having prayer of the heart and when you do not have it, then you are left completely without prayer. You write that, when you with difficulty attempted to find the place of the heart, a condemnation of your neighbors began to combat you. This shows that your prayer is still incorrect, since the fruit of true prayer is humility and love for your neighbor. 'You write that the enemy whispers to you that you are better than everyone else. Refer such temptations back to him: your own works show how good you are . . . (December 28, 1868)--Starets Amvrossy of Optina-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Concerning the Unceasing Prayer of Saint Oswald, King of North Umbria
Celebrated on August 5thAs a young man, the future King Oswald lived in exile on the Island of Iona, where Saint Columba had established his great monastery. It was during those years of exile that the future saint converted to the Christian faith. After King Oswald gained his earthly kingdom he showed great zeal in converting the English people of North Umbria to the Christian faith. For this reason he requested Christian teachers from the monastery of Iona and Saint Aiden of Lindisfarne was sent. While in exile King Oswald learned the Irish tongue and it was a moving sight to see the bishop and king standing side by side, Saint Oswald translating Saint Aiden’s words to his people for the sake of their spiritual enlightenment.“It is said that Oswald often remained in prayer from the early hour of the morning praises until dawn and through his practice of constant prayer and thanksgiving unto God he always sat with his hands palm upwards on his knees...”--From the life of Saint Oswald by the Venerable BedeGo to Orthodoxyinfo.org for a wide variety of articles on the Faith