Friday, November 13, 2009

Love of Christ and Prayer

I said to the elder, "They are constantly saying prayers at the monastery.  They are always saying the Jesus prayer.  While at their various chores they recite supplications and salutations.  They do this for whole hours at a time.  After this they go to the Church for services.
"I cant stand it any more.  My mind has become tired.  I feel that I am about to burst. But Never the less I want to become a monk.  What will I do? Help me."
The Elder said,
A young girl used to come here and confess her sins. She was in her second grade of Junior High School.  She told me once, 'Father, I have fallen in love with a boy and I can't get him out of my mind.  My mind is constantly on him, on Nick.  One would think that Nick is here, (she pointed with her finger to her forehead). I begin to read and Hick is here.  I go to eat and to sleep but nothing changes. Nick is here.  What can I do father?'"
"My child," I told her, "you are still young.  Be patient, finish school and then Nick will still be here.  Now you must put effort into your lessons.  A week passed and she came again."
"Dear Father, It's impossible for me to concentrate on my lessons.  Constantly all day long my mind and my heart are on Nick.  Nick has become an obsession with me and it won't go away."
(As he was saying these things, I was thinking, "What connection do these things have with me?  Maybe he is telling me these things to give me a respite from my obsession.")
The elder continued, (while reading my thoughts) "you are now saying, why is he telling me these things?"
"But nevertheless, tell me, please."
"Did this girl sit on a stool?  Did she force herself to focus her mind on Nick? No.
"This happened spontaneously.  This was unforced love.
"This same happens with us.  When we love Christ with divine love, without any coercion, pressure of worry, with love we will proclaim His holy name, 'Lord Jesus Christ.'
"And when the heart is flooded by this divine love, it does not require us to verbalize the whole prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.'
Before he finishes the prayer the heart stops at that point of love and rejoicing.
Other times he proclaims only  the "Lord..." and stops.  He proclaims this mystically and without speaking."
In saying these things he gave me an answer to my first question that was not expressed verbally.  I had only thought it without verbalizing it.
I was flabbergasted.  I was totally amazed at his responses.  A divine flame enveloped my inner being and I felt the desire to begin proclaiming within my heart the ineffable love I had for the name of our Christ.

From the Divine Flame: Elder Porphyrios Lit my Heart, by the monk Agapios, pp 25-26, Published by the Holy Convent of the Transfiguration of the savior, Athens 2005.

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