Five Stages In Contemplative Prayer
- The Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
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
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
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
[THE NOUS RISES ABOVE BODY- CONSCIOUSNESS DURING
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.