Monday, 15 March 2010

A Note on the Jesus Prayer

Let us suppose that we pray the Jesus Prayer and let us suppose that we have joined our mind to our intention in such a way that when we pray ‘a sinner’, we indeed confess to the Lord that we are sinners. Then we might experience an increase of love.

This is a matter of the opening of our heart in repentance. As we confess that we are sinners we divest ourselves of what people nowadays call ‘ego’—what would traditionally be called our pride. We are humbling ourselves in front of God. But having broken down the ‘middle wall’ of enmity, we then find that we have an increase of love—genuine Christian love—for our neighbour. Let us recall that the criterion of our salvation will be the mercy we have shown to our neighbour. Let us also recall that St Paul says in II Corinthians that we should make love our aim.

This takes much work however—not in the sense that we must make an effort of two hours, say, of intense prayer so as to attain to this increase of love, but in the sense that this is something that comes after many years of hard work. And in Christianity, hard work is suffering. If truth be told, this is precisely what asceticism is all about: hard work, or suffering, so as to increase our love, our humility, our ability to confess that we, too, are sinners.

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