Love of Beauty Part 2
Man thirsts for a spiritual world and cannot be satisfied with less than a living contact with that spiritual world. ~ Unknown Romanian Pastor
I was speaking with my godfather about the blog recently and he shared some wonderful insight. He mentioned to me that it’s important to understand that Orthodoxy isn’t found in a book. Orthodoxy is a life lived in prayer and worship of the one true God. Books are wonderful for understanding Orthodox topics, but to be Orthodox requires action, and part of that action is prayer. Belief and action spring from and fulfill our faith. Saint James spoke of works fulfilling our faith in his epistle long ago.
As I read through Anthony M. Coniaris’ book, Philokalia: The Bible of Orthodox Spirituality, this is what was made clear to me. The Orthodox life is bound up in prayer. This is what the Romanian pastor above was getting at.
Prayer is connecting us to the spiritual world. It gives us a direct “living” contact with the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit living and moving through us.
For me when I started utilizing the Jesus Prayer, I began doing so on my drives to and from work. I have not been a strong man of prayer since high school, and even when told, “Just talk to God like you would a friend,” was a strained and awkward process for me. It felt dishonest, because I didn’t feel like I was being honest about myself with God.
But I knew that I needed to be better at prayer. I knew that I was suffering daily from lack of contact with the spiritual world. So I began repeating the prayer over and over on my drive.
Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
I probably prayed that prayer over a thousand times during the first month. At first, I didn’t feel much different. I felt awkward like I would when I tried “talking” to God.
But slowly this began to change. I felt lighter emotionally. I wasn’t falling as frequently into sin.
The Jesus Prayer is simple. It states who you are and who God is. It begs forgiveness.
Prayer is part of our union with Christ. This is Orthodox spirituality at its core. Or to use an Orthodox term, it is “theosis”, or deification, becoming like Christ. It is recognizing our place as sinners and Christ’s place as Lord and Savior. As Orthodox, we are to strive for theosis with Christ. And union with Christ can’t happen without prayer.
The heart itself is but a small vessel, yet dragons are there, and there are also lions; there are poisonous beasts and all the treasures of evil. But there too is God, the angels, the life and the kingdom, the light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasuries of grace — all things are there. ~ Pseudo-Macarius