Archive for the ‘Prayer of the Heart’ Category

 

NATIVITY GIFTS

 Wise men from the East opened their Treasure,
offering Him gifts . . .

GOLD   INCENSE   MYRRH

 If I could give Christ Jesus a gift, would it be GOLD,
remembering others who freeze for lack of shelter?

If I could give Christ Jesus a gift, would it be INCENSE,
remembering others who choke for lack of clean air?

If I could give Christ Jesus a gift would it be MYRRH,
remembering others who die for lack of fragrant oil?

 

If I could give Christ Jesus a gift, it would be GOLD,
the GOLD of SILENCE in daily prayer.

If I could give Christ Jesus a gift, it would be INCENSE,
the INCENSE of JOY offered at the altar.

If I could give Christ Jesus a gift, it would be MYRRH,
the MYRRH of TEARS for easing of wounds.

Susan Creighton, 2014

 

 

Alleluia! The Angel returns...

Alleluia! The Angel returns…

On Christmas Day, 1995, as I planted two small Yew trees (traditionally seen as sacred trees, and known for their healing properties) near my meditation spiral, I realized that these “Angel and Cradle” driftwood pieces, and a large, heart-shaped rock I had recently found on the beach at Camano Island, were the perfect memorial for my recovery from a double mastectomy for breast cancer.

It was, of course, an even more perfect symbol for the Incarnation, as the Angel hovered over the Holy Child resting in the simple Cradle shaped only by the hand of God.

When moving from Camano to Bellingham, the Angel, cradle and heart-rock came with me, standing guard for years near the entrance to my Anchorhold. The Yew trees, however, stayed behind. This spring something deep within my soul stirred, and I knew it was time to bring the Angel closer. She now resides on my back deck, still hovering over the Cradle and Heart-rock. And on either side are dwarf Yew shrubs. And beside the Cradle is a stone basin in which the birds delight as they baptize themselves in rainwater.

Today is Easter, and now, on this great Feast of the Resurrection, the symbols of the Incarnation are utterly transformed: The Angel has become the Cross of the Crucifixion, the Cradle has become the Tomb; and the Heart-rock Holy Child has become the Resurrected Christ, “the spiritual rock that is Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

View image on Twitter

For Ukraine…and Syria…and Egypt…and Africa…and Venezuela…

You pour Your holy oil into the stars, O Holy Spirit,

and out of senseless conflagrations

You make vigil lamps before the Glory of Heaven.

Pour Yourself into my soul also,

and out of a passionate conflagration

make a vigil lamp before the heavens.

St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prayers by the Lake. 2nd Edition. Prayer XX

(I don’t pretend to understand all the dynamics here, but on a 1993 visit, Kiev entered my heart…she has known such violence–in WWII, the slaughter of Jews, and many others at Babi Yar, and untold other wars and famine and injustice over the ages…..we can only pray–and offer their suffering as vigil lamps before the Glory of Heaven.)

 

 

This is a beautiful, powerful prayer for Syria at this time of peril. I have re-blogged it from

http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/2013/08/litany-of-syrian-saints.html


Litany of Syrian Saints
For private use only

Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison, Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Christe audi nos, Christe audi nos.
Christe exaudi nos. Christe exaudi nos.

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Trinity, one God,

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of Virgins,
St Michael,
St Gabriel,
St Raphael,
All ye Holy Angels and Archangels,
St John the Baptist,
St Joseph,

All ye Holy Patriarchs and Prophets, pray for us.
Blessed Peter the Apostle, and first Patriarch of Antioch,
Blessed Paul the Apostle, born in Tarsus,
Blessed Paul the Apostle, blinded and converted on the way to Damascus,
Blessed Paul the Apostle, enlightened and baptised at the Street called Straight,
Blessed Peter and Paul, models of humility and justice at Antioch,
St Ananias of Damscus, laying thy hands on Blessed Paul,
Blessed Luke the Evangelist,
St Manahen, disciple of the Lord and foster-brother to Herod Antipas,
All ye holy Syrian disciples of the Lord,
All ye holy Syrian innocents,

St Apollinaris, pray for us.
St Felix of Nola,
St Abraham of Arbela,
St Dorotheus of Tyre,
St Eusebius of Samosota,
St Anthony of Antioch,
All ye holy Syrian Hieromartyrs,

Ss Victor and Corona, pray for us.
Ss Galation and Episteme,
Ss Cosmas and Damian,
St Romanus of Samosata,
And thy Holy Companions Ss Jacob, Philotheus, Hyperechius, Abibus, Julianus and Paregorius,
St Anastasius of Antioch, and thy Companions Ss Julian, Celsus and Marcionilla,
Ss Romanus of Caesarea and Barulas,
St Andrew Stratelates and thy 2953 Companions,
St Julian of Cilicia,
All ye Forty Soldier Martyrs of Sebaste,
St Eusiginius,
Ss Sergius and Bacchus,
Fr Francois Mourad,
All ye holy Syrian martyrs,

St Ephrem the Syrian, pray for us.
St John Chrysostom,
St John Damascene,
All ye holy Syrian teachers of the Faith,

St Evodius, pray for us.
St Ignatius of Antioch,
St Herodian of Antioch,
St Theophilus of Antioch,
St Serapion of Antioch,
St Asclepiades of Antioch,
St Babylas of Antioch,
St Eustathius the Great of Antioch,
St Anastasius II of Antioch,
All ye holy Patriarchs and Bishops of Antioch,

Pope St Anicetus, pray for us.
Pope St Sergius I,
Pope St Gregory III,

St Cyril of Jerusalem, pray for us.
St Sophronius of Jerusalem,
All ye holy Syrian Bishops and Patriarchs of Jerusalem,

St Maron, pray for us.
St John Maron, first patriarch of the Maronite Church,
St Mar Awtel,
St Domnina of Syria, Virgin and disciple of St Maron,
Blessed Abdel Moati, Francis and Raphael Massabki, and thy Holy Companions,

St Birillus, ordained by Blessed Peter, pray for us.
Ss Philo and Agathopodes,
St Jacob of Nisibis,
St Frumentius, Apostle to Ethiopia
St Maruthas, Father of the Syrian Church,
St Romanos the Melodist,
St Cosmas the Melodist, and foster-brother to the Damascene,

St Palladius the Desert Dweller, pray for us.
St Thalassius of Syria,
St Alexius of Rome, the Man of God,
St Simeon Stylites,
St Baradates,
St Auxentius of Bithynia,
St Simeon Stylites the Younger,
All ye holy Syrian Priests and Levites,
All ye holy Syrian Monks and Hermits,

St Philip of Agira, pray for us.
All ye holy Syrian Confessors,

St Serapia, pray for us.
St Margaret of Antioch,
Ss Domnina, Berenice and Prosdoce,
St Basilissa, pray for us.
All ye holy Syrian Virgins and Widows,
All ye holy Syrian Saints of God,

Be merciful, spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Lord.
From all evil, deliver us, O Lord.
From all sin,
From thy wrath,
From sudden and unlooked for death,
From the snares of the devil,
From anger, and hatred, and every evil will,
From the spirit of fornication,
From plague, famine and war,
From revolution,
From all false prophets,
From the errors of Mohammed,
From jihad,
From infidelity, heresy, paganism and heathendom,
From everlasting death,

Through the mystery of thy holy Incarnation, deliver us, O Lord.
Through thy Coming,
Through thy Birth,
Through thy Baptism and holy Fasting,
Through thy Cross and Passion,
Through thy Death and Burial,
Through thy holy Resurrection,
Through thine admirable Ascension,
Through the coming of the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete,
Through the blood of thy Holy and Blessed Syrian martyrs,
In the day of judgment,

We sinners: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst spare us: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst pardon us: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst bring us to true penance: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to govern and preserve thy holy Church: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to preserve our Apostolic Prelate, and all orders of the Church in holy religion: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to humble the enemies of holy Church: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to give peace and true concord to Christian kings, princes, and rulers: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to grant peace and unity to the whole Christian world: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst call back to the unity of the Church all who have strayed from her fold, and to guide all unbelievers into the light of the Gospel: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to give discernment and wisdom to the rulers of nations: we beseech thee, hear us.

That thou wouldst vouchsafe to confirm and preserve us in thy holy service: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst lift up our minds to heavenly desires: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst render eternal blessings to all our benefactors: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst deliver our souls, and the souls of our brethren, relations, and benefactors, from eternal damnation: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to comfort the afflicted people of thy Holy Syria, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to give and preserve the fruits of the earth: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe graciously to hear us: we beseech thee, hear us.
Son of God: we beseech thee, hear us.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, parce nobis, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, exaudi nos Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Christe audi nos, Christe audi nos.
Christe exaudi nos. Christe exaudi nos.

Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison, Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.

Pater noster [silentio]
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo.

Domine exaudi orationem meam, et clamor meus ad te veniat.

Oremus:

For world leaders:
O God, who taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that, by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be always truly wise, and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. amen.

Against Persecutors of the Church:
O Lord, we beseech thee, crush the pride of our enemies and humble their insolence by the might of thy hand. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… Amen.

In any tribulation:
O Almighty God, despise not thy people who cry out in their affliction: but for the glory of thy Name, be appeased and help those in trouble. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… Amen.

For our enemies:
O God, who are the Lover and Guardian both of peace and charity, give to all our enemies peace and true charity, and grant the remission of all their sins, and by thy might deliver us from their snares. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… Amen.

For the defence of the Church:
Almighty, everlasting God, in whose hand are the strength of man and the nation’s sceptre, see what help we Christians need: that the heathen peoples who trust in their savagery may be crushed by the power of thy right hand. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… Amen.

In time of war:
O God, who bringest wars to nought and shieldest by thy power all who hope in thee, overthrowing those that assail them; help thy servants who implore thy mercy; so that the fierce might of their enemies may be brought low, and we may never cease to praise and thank thee. Through our Lord… Amen.

For peace:
O God, from whom are holy desires, right counsels and just works; give to thy servants that which the world cannot give; that both, our hearts may be disposed to obey thy commandments, and also, the fear of enemies being removed, our times, by thy protection, may be peaceful. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… Amen.

Domine exaudi orationem meam, et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Exaudiat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Amen.
Et fidelium animae per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.

 

 

Mystical Icon of the Holy Church by the hand of Matthew Garrett, 2008 http://holy-icons.com/

In this season of ecclesiastical upheaval and discontent, it seems useful to remember that, sadly, thus it has ever been down through the centuries. It is even more important to remember that though the Church may sail through treacherous seas, Christ is always at the helm.

My prayers for the Church this morning led to those of St. Isaac of Nineveh (also known as St. Isaac the Syrian) from the 7th Century:

O Mystery exalted beyond every word
and beyond silence,
who became human in order to renew us
by means of voluntary union with the flesh,
reveal to me the path
by which I may be raised up to your mysteries
. . .
Gather my mind into the silence of prayer
. . .
Stir up within me
the vision of your mysteries
so that I may become aware of what was placed in my
at holy baptism.
You made me to be light and salt for the world:
may I not prove a stumbling block for my companions.
Prayers of Isaac of Nineveh, 7th C.
Translated by Sebastian Brock

Lord, overshadow your holy Church which has been redeemed by your blood; cause to dwell in it your true peace which you gave to your holy apostles; bind her children in holy bonds of indissoluble love; may the rebel not have power over her, and keep far from her persecution, tumult, and wars, both from those within and from those without; and may kings and priests be bound together in great peace and love, their minds always filled with gazing towards you, and may the holy faith be a wall for your flock.
A prayer of Isaac of Nineveh, 7th C.
Translated by Hilarion Alfeyev

Holiest of Holy

On a sunny, peaceful morning, I awoke about 6:30, and turned on the TV news, expecting a mundane weather report. Stunned, and with a paralyzing sense of doom clutching my heart, I could scarce believe what I was seeing as sirens shrieked, pillars of smoke and fire arose, and the panic-stricken fled first from the World Trade Center Towers, and then from the Pentagon. As the hours went on, with one horrific image following another, I finally threw a blanket over the television. I wanted to know what was happening, but could not bear to see.

Mid-morning, when we were still uncertain exactly what had happened, I went to my altar, to pray the Great Litany, and the Prayers for the Dying; I chanted the Om Jesu Christi, Miserere nobis; I sat in silence, before the reserved Sacrament, and enveloped by the presence of Christ. I let the tears flow. Then, I attempted to draw what could not be put into any form, any color, any words other than those of Lady Julian, “All shall be well; all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.”

Now, I saw the Cross of Sorrows enter the Mosque—enter the Holiest of Holy, enter the Light of God that knows no name, no creed, no boundary. All is One. There is no Path, there are no Steps. There are no more tears to be shed in sorrow; no more weary, stumbling feet carrying burdens of bloodshed and hatred. All is One.

Susan Creighton+

 

Be Silent All Flesh…the Lord has roused Himself from His Holy Dwelling. (Zechariah 2:13)

Christmas, 2010

In the midst of military, political and economic chaos in all corners of this earth:

…a small businessman in Maine, grateful for his freedom, begins a movement now numbering thousands of volunteers who lay Christmas wreaths on the tombs of fallen soldiers with a moment of silent prayer.

In the midst of crowds thronging the malls and holiday parties, with the gaiety escalating to near-hysteria:

…a woman gathers her courage, and calls for silence when a child is overwhelmed by the noise and unchecked emotions swirling around him.

In the midst of beeping monitors and flashing lights required by a frightening series of medical tests:

…a gentle nurse promises to let a patient sleep in silence through the night.

In the midst of strident voices—left and right—decrying this or that current (and perhaps soon-to-be-forgotten) cultural battle:

…a 7th Century monk prays: “O Mystery exalted beyond silence, gather my mind into the silence of prayer, free from the concerns of this world.”[1]

Yes…Let all flesh be silent. For in these small pockets of silence, all too rare and fleeting, hidden away and often unnoticed—in these precious moments between breaths when we can hear our own hearts beat . . . now is the time to keep silence.

For it is only in such silence that the Holy One can rouse from His Holy Dwelling in the Heart of God, and come among us to be born in a poor stable in Bethlehem.  Only in such silence can the Holy One bring strength and courage to the heart of a soldier keeping watch in the mountains of Afghanistan. Only in such silence can the touch of the Holy One comfort the heart of a little child surrounded  by poverty, or despair. Only in such silence can the Holy One enter our own hearts, and find once again His own Holy Dwelling.

I do pray we will all find those moments of silence when the Lord enters His Holy Dwelling within our hearts.

Susan Creighton+



[1] Isaac of Ninevah, 7th C. Syria: in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life, translated by Sebastian Brock, (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1987)

NOTE: I wrote this meditation over thirty years ago…only now am I beginning to understand it.

The Rev’d. Susan Creighton, Anchorite

Winter is an odd time to begin anything: we think of it as the last of the Four Seasons; as a metaphor for the closing years of a long life; as a time of hibernation, stillness, and death. And as we ourselves approach this time of year, or time of life, we may find we would rather hearken back to the newness and hopefulness of Spring, to the exuberance of Summer, to the glorious abundance of Autumn. Ah, those gaudy, golden months of Autumn, when the trees fling themselves into an oblation of color, shouting with all the energy from the summer of their youth: “Glorify the Lord, O mountains and hills, and all that grows upon the earth, praise him and highly exalt him for ever.”

But the day comes when that shout is muted by the gray shawl of low hanging clouds, slipping round the hills, and bringing soft, tentative rain. Slowly, bolstered by a rush of wind, the rain gathers courage, daring to challenge the riot of color. Where once an occasional leaf floated casually to earth, slow and relaxed as a Sunday driver, now a blizzard of gold and red strips the trees of the last vestiges of life. A vast silence permeates the waiting forest, as final preparations are made for the pall of snow that soon will cloak the ugliness of naked death.

Then one morning we wake to an icy moonlight and know that Winter is upon us. The earth lies still and silent, all sounds muted by the cloak of snow, all life seemingly brought to a standstill: the birds do not sing; the woodchucks lie snug in their burrows; the woodland streams are frozen in their beds. And we find that this awesome stillness penetrates into our own hearts: Winter has entered into us, and into our prayer.

For our life of prayer also has seasons: the tentative Spring of newborn faith, just beginning to hope; the full-blown Summer of certainty and conviction, when we dwell in the full radiance of the Light of God. And of course there is the glorious Autumn of prayer, when we reap the harvest of long seasons of spiritual planting and cultivating; when we move beyond petition to praise; beyond penance to the mature knowledge of the love of God.

Then, as inevitably as the seasons of the earth, comes a time of Winter to our life of prayer, our life in God. Sometimes this spiritual Winter slips upon us almost unnoticed, like the slow shortening of the hours of daylight. Or, it may come to our prayer like the furious gust of a late hurricane, tearing from us all certainty, all fruitfulness, and battering us into a depression and bleakness than can be likened only to death. But whether our Winter comes slowly and unnoticed, or furiously and devastatingly, we at last find ourselves in a place of immense stillness.

The Winter of prayer is a place of grayness, yet with the stark contrasts of icy blackness and brilliant whiteness. Just as the bare skeletons of the trees stand silhouetted against dull gray sky, we find our prayer has become naked and stripped and skeletal. We find no green hope of life in our prayer, let alone any evidence of fruit or mature foliage. We cannot pray, and so we simply say prayers, depending upon the bare bones of the faith of the Church, and the promise of the sacraments to carry us through the death of our own prayer.

Then, slowly, as the Winter wears on, we begin to find comfort in its very stillness, and shelter in the blanket of snow which has brought rest and silence to our prayer. We find that in the silence of this spiritual Winter, we are listening more acutely to the voice of God. And while we feel ourselves frozen into the stillness of Winter, we yet find the Water of Life flowing deep within us, and deep within the bosom of the earth.

As we move more deeply into this Winter, we find that the place of stillness and death has been transformed into one of waiting and rest. As the trees must shed their leaves and draw back their sap to prepare for another season of life and growth, so, too, we must allow our prayer such a Winter. For Winter does not mean that life has departed from the earth, nor has faith departed from our prayer. Rather, it is a time of waiting, and rest, and even of death, in which we pause and prepare for the rebirth of Spring, the renewal and greater growth of the next season of prayer. Winter, as the culmination of the year, and the completion of a life span, is also the beginning of a new cycle of seasons, the beginning of New Life in Christ. Winter brings a time of deep silence to our souls, a silence out of which we can proclaim, “Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold, drops of dew and flakes of snow. Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him for ever.”

As the sun slants lower on the horizon, and the fog and rain become welcome harbingers of Autumn, my soul longs for an even deeper silence, so difficult to maintain during the bright busyness of full summer.

 A week’s travel to a family gathering for my sister and brother-in-law’s 50th Anniversary–while a wonderful celebration with family and friends, and a blessed liturgy together–only made me yet more aware of how our culture is so starved for silence–for quiet, for peace, for stillness.

Perhaps in this era of frantic multi-tasking and instantaneous communication, God has an even greater need of a few hidden pockets of souls listening to the Great Silence within the Heart of God. Yet I find that even hidden away in the Anchorhold, the temptations to distractions are varied and many.

One that has become personally intrusive for me is a sudden–and growing–spate of spam in comments on this Holy Dwelling blog. As a result, I have disabled the ability to comment on my blog. I will trust that if you truly are interested in commenting upon my entries in Holy Dwelling, you may find your way to communicate with me through anchorite-at-holydwelling-dot-com….and if that gets discovered by the spammers as well, we’ll find yet another way.

May you, too, find yourselves some pockets of Holy Silence.

  

Camano Moon

Camano Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eons ago, when scarce I knew the lode was true,
I chipped away with pen and ink,
Following ancient lore that gold lay
Deep within the canyons of my soul.

Midst darkest tunnels discovering
New maps, a compass, chant, and breath,
Bringing shining hope of truth
Breathed fresh from alien lands.

The Lode was deep and wide and true;
Bearing jewels of peace, and faith, and love.
Delving deep, I sank within, and
Slowly, in dark gold, the silence fell.
    
Long days now, the tools sit idle,
Hid ’neath a cloak of silence.
Weighing their heft and form, I
Fumble to find an edge, and cut a word.

For miner’s heart still stirs,
And even Silence sings,
But in the Lode, All is One,
And mere letters flee from WORD.

                       DeepLight Anchorhold
                       6th February 2005
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