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Five Stages In Contemplative Prayer

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  • Thomas Daniel
    The Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Be Merciful We have mainly five stages. This is, roughly, the course of the development of the Jesus Prayer.
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 27, 2003
      The Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
      Be Merciful"

      We have mainly five stages. This is, roughly, the
      course of the development of the Jesus Prayer.
      Each stage has its own grace.

      Firstly. The reciting of the Jesus Prayer VOCALLY.
      We repeat the Jesus Prayer with our lips while
      trying at the same time to focus our attention
      on the words of the prayer.

      Secondly. Then the nous takes the Jesus Prayer
      and says it noetically [WITHIN, MENTALLY OR SPIRITUALLY].
      Our whole attention is found again in the words but it
      is concentrated on the nous [the soul's attention, the
      Eye of the soul]. When the nous gets tired then we start
      again to vocalize the prayer with the lips. After the
      nous has been rested we start again to concentrate our
      attention there.

      St. Neilos advises:

      Always remember God and your nous will become heaven.

      Thirdly. The Jesus Prayer then comes down into THE HEART.
      Nous and heart are now united and combined with each
      other. Attention is centered in the heart and it is
      immersed again into the words of the Jesus Prayer which
      has an invisible depth.

      Fourthly. The Prayer becomes now self-activating
      [PRAYER WITHOUT CEASING]. It is done while the ascetic
      is working or eating or discussing or while he is in
      church or even while he is sleeping. "I sleep but by
      heart waketh" is said in the Holy Scriptures (Song of
      Songs 5:2).

      Fifthly. Then one feels a divine soft flame within his
      soul burning it and making it joyful [LOVE, DEVOTION,
      WARMTH AND VISIONS OF DIVINE LIGHT]. The grace of Christ
      lives in the heart. The Holy Trinity is established. "We
      become the habitation of God, when He lives within us,
      established in the memory. Thus we become the temple of
      God when Remembrance of His is not disturbed by earthly
      cares, and mind is not distracted by unexpected thoughts.
      Fleeing all that, the Friend of God withdraws into Him,
      chasing away the passions which invite intemperate
      thoughts, and occupying himself in a way which leads to
      virtue." (Saint Basil the Great) Thus he feels the Divine
      Presence within himself and this grace passes through the
      body which becomes dead to the world and is crucified
      CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE]. And this is the extremist stage
      which is sometimes connected with the Vision of the
      Uncreated Light of the Holy Trinity.

      -- Archim. Hierotheos Vlachos, "A Night in the Desert of
      the Holy Mountain," Birth of Theotokos Monastery,
      Levadia, ISBN: 960-7070-04-6

      In His Love
      Thomas Daniel (Reji)
      St. George Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church
      Cheppaud, Alleppy (Dist), Kerala, India.
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