Posts Tagged ‘Prayer of the Heart’

Descent of the Holy Spirit


THE PRAYER OF HOLY SILENCE

When the Whole Creation groans in travail . . .

During the earliest days of Christianity, when the followers of Jesus the Christ were under nearly constant persecution, the faithful were often unable to gather together to celebrate the mysteries of the Eucharist. Drawing on their inheritance from Jewish Temple and Synagogue, they continued to pray morning and evening, often simply in family groupings or in solitude.

As the worst of the Roman persecutions abated, and Christianity became a legal religion in the empire, regular gatherings in churches were allowed and even encouraged. Yet many souls—both men and women—felt called to a more deliberate and intense discipleship, and retreated to the mountains and deserts to follow Christ through their lives of prayer in silence, solitude, and simplicity. Eventually these hermits and anchorites became so numerous, they began to gather together to share their lives of prayer and service while living communally in monasteries. One of the oldest of these (in continuous existence since the early 4th Century) is the Monastery of St. Catherine, at the base of Mount Sinai in the Egyptian desert. http://www.sinaimonastery.com/index.php/en/history

Throughout the long history of the Earth, humanity (indeed, all of God’s creation) has been threatened in various ways, times, and places by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Death, Famine, War, Pestilence. Our time is no different. The coronavirus, COVID-19, is simply the one we face in 2020. And just as our ancestors down through the ages have done, we will fight these threats with all our medical, technological, and political might.

And we will pray, just as they did—in our churches, synagogues, and temples (when we can), in our homes with our loved ones, in our solitudes (whether by choice, or by circumstance), remembering always the elderly, the homeless, and the dying, and those who care for them.

. . . we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with
sighs too deep for words.

Our prayers will take many forms: the familiar and beloved words of liturgy and hymns, or the simpler prayer of the heart, “Lord, have mercy.”. And perhaps we may find our prayers are “too deep for words” and we fall silent before the immensity of the perils of our time, but even more profoundly, we fall silent before the sure and certain hope that we and the entirety of creation are eternally held in the Heart of God.

. . . For I am sure that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the
love of God in Christ our Lord.
(Romans 8: 22, 26, 38)

During this time of pestilence, and the “physical distancing” it requires, perhaps some of you may wish to explore an ancient and simpler form of daily prayer, which you may find in my Breviary of Holy Silence on the page Prayer of Holy Silence. http://holydwelling.com/blog/prayer-of-holy-silence/ I will be posting other relevant material on this page in the near future.

With blessings and prayer for God’s creation and all who dwell therein.
The Rev. Susan Creighton
16 March 2020




 

Camano DeepLight

Camano DeepLight

 

 

How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts! *
   My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord;
   my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.
      Psalm 84:1

 

Welcome to my new blog, Holy Dwelling. My intent is to share some resources and reflections about the Soul’s quest to become one with God. In so doing, I will be examining three simple questions:

     Who am I?  (How does ancient Christian anthropology inform our understandings of the human person as body, mind, and soul?)

     Where am I going?  (What does the Orthodox tradition of theosis (or divinization) have to tell us about the ultimate destiny of the Christian?)

     How do I get there?  (How does the ancient tradition of the Prayer of the Heart or Jesus Prayer prepare our body, our mind, and our soul for union with God? And how does the liturgy of the Church, including the sacraments, and even the architecture of the building itself aid in our journey toward union with God?)

Now, because I long ago learned that the mystical journey is more of a spiral than a straight line, these entries will circle around in no particular designated order or structure…and may at times include the spiritual lessons I have learned from my cats and my cows!

I invite your responses as we share a few steps of the journey.

The Rev’d. Susan Creighton
Anchorite

A further word about myself….where I’ve been, how I got here, what feeds my soul:

My ecclesiastical ‘family of origin’ is that of the Episcopal Church (Anglican). She has baptized me, confirmed me, and ordained me a priest. I have served her in a variety of ministries, including within a religious order, as a parish priest, in campus ministry, and as a teacher, retreat leader, and spiritual director.

My liturgical life has been profoundly shaped by the Book of Common Prayer, the monastic tradition of psalms, canticles, prayers and, of course, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

My contemplative prayer life began by sitting in the dark with a candle, an icon, and the cross. Over the years, my soul was nourished by the mystical traditions represented by The Cloud of Unknowing and St. John of the Cross, among others. In the last decade, I have returned to the depth of the mystical traditions, focusing particularly on the (Eastern) Orthodox tradition of the Prayer of the Heart, utilizing the Jesus Prayer, and the ascetical tradition of The Philokalia.

I attempt to keep my theology firmly rooted in the eternal truths as expressed in the creeds and liturgy of the ancient church, but most particularly in the teachings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, and in the writings of the Church Fathers, including Gregory of Nyssa, Evagrius of Pontus, Hesychios, Maximus the Confessor, Dionysius the Areopagite, and others.

All these have prepared me for the fullest and truest expression of my vocation and life in God as I now live it as an Anchorite, under solemn vows of Silence, Solitude, and Simplicity.

~ ~ ~

A note about the present ‘Anglican chaos’: I am sorely grieved by our schisms, heresies, litigations, and plain bad manners. I am even more grieved by the schisms, heresies, litigations and plain bad manners exhibited in the Body of Christ down through the centuries. However, our Lord has placed me in this particular ‘family of origin’ at a particular time of history, and He has called me to the particular vocation of priest and anchorite. What He has given, He does not take back. Neither my vocation nor my ecclesiastical family are something which I can lay down, or turn my back on. . .they are not mine to reject.

Most probably all the above doesn’t matter a whole lot to the Living God, as made known to us in His Son, Jesus the Christ. Rather, I believe He says to us all: “Do you love me?” By his mercy, may we always answer, “Lord, you know I love you.” And through eternity, he says, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

I can only pray that some of you may find food for your souls within these pages, and that you will discover your own “HOLY DWELLING.”

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