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 (Part II)
By Saint Porphyrios
Prayer of the Heart Is Impossible Without a Spiritual Guide
If you are going to occupy yourself with prayer of the heart exclusively you must have the guidance of a spiritual father. Prayer of the heart is impossible without a spiritual guide. There is a danger of the soul being deluded. Care is needed. Your spiritual guide will teach you how to get into the right order for prayer, because if you do not get into the right order, there a danger of your seeing the luciferic (satanic) light, of living in delusion and being plunged into darkness, and then one becomes aggressive and changes character and so on. This is the splitting of the personality. Do you see how delusion is created? If, however, you progress in prayer with the counsels of a spiritual father, you will see the true light.
The spiritual guide must be experienced in prayer of the heart. If he prays mechanically and has not experienced prayer with the grace of God, he is unable to tell someone else how to pray. Certainly, he will be able to say what he has read in books and what the Fathers say. Whole books have been written which talk about prayer. And so many people read them and none knows how to pray. "But," you will object, "we read these books, we learn the method of prayer, we prepare ourselves and God gives His blessing and sends us His grace and we understand them." That is all very well, but it is a mystery. Prayer is a mystery, and above all prayer of the heart is a mystery.
The most dreadful delusion can be created by spiritual prayer. Other prayers are prayed to a large extent by our mind. We simply say them and our ears hear them. They are said in different way. But spiritual prayer is something else. And if in this spiritual dimension desire is enkindled, not by your good self, but by the other self, the egotistical self, then undoubtedly you will begin to see lights, but not the light of Christ, and undoubtedly you will begin to experience a pseudo-joy. But in your outward life, in your relations with other people, you will be ever more aggressive and irascible, more quick-tempered and fretful. These are the signs of the person who is deluded. The person who is deluded does not accept that he is suffering from delusion. He is fanatical and does harm. This is what happens with zealots, those who act with a zeal that is not tempered by divine knowledge. Listen to an example of this:
Saint Makarios, the famous Desert Father, had decided to go to a church festival along with the monk who was subservient to him. The young monk had gone on ahead. He was a beginner and had a beginner's zeal. As he was walking along he met an idolater, a priest of a pagan temple. He spoke harshly to him and said:
--Where are you off to, you deluded soul?
The pagan priest was enraged and attacked the novice, leaving him virtually unconscious.
A short time later the pagan priest met the elder (geronda). When Abba (Father) Makarios, blessed as he was by divine grace, saw the man in a state of shock and aggravation, he said to him:
--Good man of God, where are you going to?
As soon as the priest heard these words his heart softened, he stopped in his tracks, and said:
--Your words have calmed me down.
--Yes, said Abba (Father) Makarios, I see you're in a hurry, only you don't know where you're hurrying to.
But he said it in a humble and brotherly tone of love.
--When you speak, said the idolater, your words open my heart, but a short time ago another monk spoke to me in a very different way and I gave him a good beating.
Abba (Father) Makarios spoke to him in such an inspired way, that the idolater gradually changed his beliefs, became a monk and was saved. With his good words and manners he communicated the good spirit. He communicated the uncreated energy and entered the soul of the idolater. The novice, on the contrary, communicated a spirit of anger and aggression from the spirit he had within him.
Do you see what delusion means? When you have a spiritual guide you are not in danger of delusion. When you have a good, God-inspired elder (geronda) and you gradually begin to enter into the spiritual life and to learn how the elder prays. He is not able to tell you, "Do this or do that." But you do what you see him do. When you go to your elder, certainly, he tells you about the prayer of the heart. You need to know, however, that if he does not experience the prayer of the heart himself, he will not be able to communicate anything. But when the elder has experienced (and continues to experience) the prayer of the heart, something mysteriously takes place. The mystery is that the novice hears his words, but more importantly, he sees the way his heart opens and how he speaks to God in his heart. His soul watches him. And not only this, but soul communicates with soul and the one soul senses the other. The novice feels how the whole "frame of mind" is created, how this state is created through Divine grace.
This is not a simple matter. This is the teaching. We say that prayer cannot be taught, but in point of fact it can be taught when you live with someone who truly prays. When you take a book about prayer and read it, it may be that you do not understand anything. However, when you have an elder next to you who prays, whatever he tells you about prayer you understand and take to heart. You enter into his prayer, and you pray too without realizing it. You communicate. It's not the book or the knowledge, it's the sensation, it's the manner, it's the opening of the heart, it's the embrace of prayer.
And is not what we are doing now as I am speaking to you, is this too not a prayer? Am I not speaking from my heart and do we not feel that leaping sensation of joy and impellent desire? If this is not prayer, how can it be explained that we have such a sense of strong desire?
It is a great art to succeed in having your soul and sanctified. A person can become a Saint anywhere. He can become a Saint in Omonia Square (the commercial center of Athens, also synonymous with vice and corruption), if he wants. At your work, whatever it may be, you can become a Saint through meekness, patience, and love. Make a new start every day, with new resolution, with enthusiasm and love, prayer and silence--not with anxiety so that you get a pain in the chest.
Our religion is perfectly and profoundly conceived. What is simple is also what is most precious. Accordingly, in your spiritual life engage in your daily contest simply, easily, and without force. The soul is sanctified and purified through the study of the Fathers, through the memorization of the psalms and of portions of Scripture, through the singling of hymns and through the repetition of the Jesus Prayer. Devote your efforts, therefore, to these spiritual things and ignore all the other things. (Saint Porphyrios the Kapsokalivites (+1991)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God