My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
HAVE YOUR MIND ON GOD AND YOUR HEART WILL LEAP FOR JOY SPONTANEOUSLY
By Saint Porphyrios
[Source: Wounded by Love: The Life and Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios]
Listen and I'll tell you about something that happened to me a few days ago. A monk who practices the Jesus Prayer came here from the Holy Mountain and he asked me:
--How do you day the Jesus Prayer? Do you sit on a low stool? Do you lower your head and concentrate?
--No, I replied. I say, "Lord Jesus Christ...clearly in my mind, giving attention to the words. "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me...Lord Jesus...That's how I do it in my mind and pay attention only to the words."
--That's not right at all, Elder, he said. The way you describe it is quite erroneous, not to say deluded. The mind needs to be in the heart. That's why it's called "prayer of the heart."
--I'll tell you something else, I said to him. Sometimes when I would be facing some temptation, I would bring into my mind the image of Christ on the Cross with His transfixed hands and feet dripping blood and with the crown of thorns piercing his brow and with myself kneeling before Him and saying to Him, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me."
--And you didn't bring your mind into your heart? he interrupted.
--No, I replied.
--You are deluded, he said to me. The mind must be in the heart. Again, that's why it's called "prayer of the heart."
He got up to leave.
--Elder (Geronda)! I said to him. Listen and I'll tell you something. When I am repeating the prayer in my mind, sometimes my joy becomes more and more intense. Moreover, when my joy becomes ever stronger with the words, "Lord Jesus Christ..." I feel my mind leaping within me along with my heart. That is, I feel my mind plummeting into my heart and there I experience all this joy as I say the prayer I begin with the mind and then my mind moves on its own when joy comes.
--So that's how you pray! 'That indeed is the way!' he said to me. Forgive me for accusing you of "delusion."
It is the mind that thinks. The heart does not think. Have your mind on God and your heart will leap for joy spontaneously. It will feel compunction. For Christ to enter your heart you must love Him. In order to love Him, He must first love you. God must first know you and then you Him. He will stoop to you, if you first seek Him. In order for Him to love you, you must be worthy. In order to be worthy, you must prepare yourself.
First, you must shun all self-interest. Prayer must be entirely selfless. Everything must happen mystically and without self-interest. That is, do not think that if you concentrate with your mind then grace will come into your heart also and you will experience that leap of joy. Do not pray with that motive, but with simplicity and humility. Aspire always to the glory of God. What did I tell you about the nightingale? It sings without anyone seeing. Be like that--selfless. Give yourself over to the worship of God in secret.
However, be careful! As we said, "do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" (St. Matthew 6:3). Do not let your malicious self know what is going on. Live in Paradise and do not let your evil self know and envy it. Do not forget that there exists the envy of the Evil One (Satan).
Preparation is also to learn to keep the Commandments of God. To expel the passions--condemnation, anger, etc.--in a subtle way. That is, do not strike at the evil directly, but, disdaining the passion, turn with love to God. Occupy yourself with singing hymns, the triumphant hymns of the Saints and Martyrs and the Psalms of David. Study Holy Scripture and the Church Holy Fathers. In this way your soul will be softened, sanctified and assimilated to God. It will be ready to hear the disclosures of God.
Gradually grace will visit you. You will enter into joy. You will begin to live in peace and then you will become stronger by virtue of the Divine Grace. You will not become angry, or irritated, you will not be offended, you will not judge others, but rather receive everyone with love. You will have that which Saint Paul describes: "Love does not boast…it does not behave in an unseemly manner…it does not rejoice in injustice, but rejoices in truth; it covers and protects all things. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). The prayer purifies the soul and keeps the mind in check. The most perfect work is done is the depths of the human soul, which is hermetically sealed and known only to God. And so we witness something extraordinary: people who are transformed into Children of God, even though they had reached the very depths of their self-destructiveness.
And I, too, wretched and crocked-up fellow that I am, make this effort. I do not give myself over openly in prayer, but secretly I pray. Do you understand? The grace of God comes and overshadows you too. It brings a freshness and joy to you also as we live together, eat together, talk and pray and simply keep company with one another. Do you understand? Only someone who is thoughtless, someone who is "thick-skinned" and cannot be moved by prayer, remains a stranger to grace. Pray for God to reveal to you the unseen things. There is much that we do not know. Say to Christ, "Whatever You want. Whatever Your love desires." He will I lead you. Look to Him.
Next: Prayer of the Heart Is Impossible Without a Spiritual Guide.
"It was right that the eyewitnesses and ministers of the Logos/Word should see the Dormition (Koimisis) of His Mother according to the flesh, even the final mystery concerning her: hence, they might be witnesses not only to the Ascension of the Savior but also to the translation of her who gave Him birth. Assembled from all parts by Divine power, they came to Sion (or Zion), and sped on her way to heaven the Virgin who is higher than the Cherubim."-Saint John of Damascus
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God