Can seven words—Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me—change lives?

Christogram with Jesus Prayer in Romanian

Science studies the Jesus Prayer

It may seem a lot of effort over just seven words: Finding 110 Eastern Orthodox Christians, giving them a battery of tests ranging from psychology to theology to behavioral medicine, and then repeating the tests 30 days later. But the seven words—»Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me» (a.k.a. the Jesus Prayer)—are among the most enduring in history. What Boston University psychologist George Stavros, Ph.D., wanted to find out was whether repeating the Jesus Prayer for ten minutes each day over the 30 days would affect these people’s relationship with God, their relationships with others, their faith maturity, and their «self-cohesion» (levels of depression, anxiety, hostility, and interpersonal sensitivity). In short, Stavros was asking whether the Jesus Prayer can play a special role in a person’s «journey to the heart.» Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Academic theology is not enough for salvation

Academic theology is not enough for salvation. Read especially the ascetic Fathers. From them you will learn true theology, the right attitude of the mind and heart where God is concerned.

Pure prayer is not given to those who study a lot. In that sense, the path of academic theology is hardly effective, and can rarely lead to pure prayer.

God can touch the spirit of man and give him, directly and immediately, knowledge of Himself. There is a great difference between this knowledge and that which is acquired in theological schools. It can be very dangerous to do theology without having an existential experience of life in the spirit of Christ. One risks, in fact, turning the study of theology, especially in its apophatic forms, into a subject like philosophy or poetry. One risks adopting a false attitude, thinking oneself superior, and that is enough for perdition. In our life in Christ, it is another kind of inspiration that we must seek. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Dream of the Rood

The Ruthwell Cross. From: "The Anglo-Saxons", Ed. by James Campbell, Penguin Books, 1991.

The Ruthwell Cross. From: "The Anglo-Saxons", Ed. by James Campbell, Penguin Books, 1991.

VatopaidiFriend: «The Dream of the Rood (=Cross)» is a wonderful Old English poem written in the 8th century (before the Schism). It tells of how the Cross appeared to a man in a vision and spoke to him. It provides profound Orthodox insight on the Mystery of the Atonement. The translation into modern English is by Mary Rambaran-Olm. Note that today, with the Old (Julian) Calendar, we celebrate the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross (September 14/27).

1 Lo! I will tell of the best of dreams,

what I dreamed in the middle of the night,

after the speech-bearers were in bed.

It seemed to me that I saw a very wondrous tree

5 lifted into the air, enveloped by light,

the brightest of trees. That beacon was all

covered with gold. Gems stood Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Abandon Despair!

light of JesusIf the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness. Matthew 6:23

The Fathers say that it is a great danger to spiritual life. Once you fall into it, it is very difficult to climb out. It frequently comes up in confession, and as a spiritual advisor, it is one of the most difficult spiritual states to cure. The Fathers called it “acedia.” (Pronounced “ah see dee ah”) Today, we call this passion “despair.” Truly, when the only light in you is despair, how great is that darkness.

Despair attacks the will and this is how this passion gains its power. With the will weakened, it is difficult to be healed. After all, to pray requires will; to fast requires will; to read or study requires will. It is a bad situation when “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”, but when both the spirit and the flesh are weak, it is a dire situation. Despair begins to strengthen as it feeds upon itself. When despair is strongest, hope is lost. We feel separated from God and begin to wonder if God even exists. We are dead and lying in the darkness of the grave. Life without hope is hell on earth, and a foretaste of eternal life apart from God. It is with great insight that Dante wrote about the sign that hangs over the entrance to hell: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »