Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jesus Prayer is a Formula?

Hausherr in The Name of Jesus concludes his exhaustive work as follows:
The Jesus prayer is a superb formula of prayer. In it meet two elements of the highest importance: adoration and compunction. These signify everything that is divine and everything that is human, at the point where human and divine are most separate in order of being and most united in the order of love.
For all that the Jesus Prayer, however admirable, remains simply a formula of words. A person deserves to be called “formalistic” if he is “overly attached to formulas, following them scrupulously”. Things that come to a living organism from outside are useful only if they fulfill some vital need in the organism. Such needs differ according to age, temperament, life history and particular circumstances.

The Holy Spirit cannot be tied to any formula of words. The Jesus prayer is not even a sacrament, much less a magical charm…”the Lord is spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17). The Lord Jesus, although he urged his disciples to pray always, never took the initiative of teaching them a formula of prayer...This is the constant teaching of the fathers: seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be given besides. This is what marks the deepest dimension of Christian prayer…. No formula of prayer, can accomplish anything by itself. There is no getting around the practice of mortification and the other exercises of the ascetical life.
Irenee Hausherr, The Name of Jesus, pp 325-344.

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