Desert Spirituality / Cassian and Diadochus

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Session 1 & 2 of "Continual Prayer in Eastern and Western Christianity"

Talk 1: The Pursuit of Continual Prayer in Desert Spirituality

Talk 2: The Origin of the Jesus Prayer: John Cassian & Diadochus of Photice

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Our topic this morning is The Jesus Prayer in the Middle Ages, Greek Hesychast and English Mystics. Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus is by no means the monopoly of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It has a long-established tradition in the Latin West as well. There are passages honoring the Holy Name of Jesus in the Latin Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries, including St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Paulinus of Nola, and most strikingly, St. Peter Chrysolobus, Bishop of Ravenna. This tradition was carried over into the Middle Ages. It is not by chance that our Holy Founder St. Romeo, a saint from Ravenna, should have


inherited this devotion to the Name of Jesus. After narrating the episode of the peak mystical experience in the life of St. Romeo, when he first received the gift of tears, his biographer St. Peter Damian continues. Often thereafter, he was so taken up in divine contemplation that he felt he was melting away in tears, and the fire of God's love burning within him made him cry out, Jesus, dear Jesus, sweetness beyond compare, desire of my heart, joy of the saints, delight of the angels. The same warmth and joy are evident in the celebrated passage from St. Bernard's 15th Sermon on the Song of Songs. O blessed Name, write what you will, I shall take no pleasure in it unless it tells me of


Jesus. Talk or argue as you wish, I shall find it flat and dull unless I hear the Name of Jesus. Jesus is honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, a song of joy in the heart. Another important medieval text is the Jubilus, On the Name of Jesus. Deuces Jesu memoria, in the well-known English version, Jesus, the very thought of thee. This hymn to the Holy Name, long attributed to St. Bernard, was probably written in England around the end of the 12th century. As Evelyn Underhill remarked, devotion to the Name of Jesus is something peculiarly English. The most outstanding singer of the Holy Name in the 14th century Latin West was undoubtedly


the English mystic Richard Rowe from 1300-49, or Richard the Hermit as he liked to style himself. Devotion to the Holy Name finds expression in nearly all his writings. To give an idea of the quality of Richard's devotion, let me quote a passage from his work, The Form of Living. If you wish to be on good terms with God and have his grace direct your life and come to the joy of love, then fix this Name, Jesus, so firmly in your heart that it never leaves your thoughts. And when you speak to him using your customary name, Jesu, in your ear it will be joy, in


your mouth, honey, and in your heart, melody, because it will seem joy to you to hear that name being pronounced, sweetness to speak it, cheer and singing to think it. If you think of the Name, Jesus, continually and cling to it devotedly, then it will cleanse you from sin and set your heart aflame. It will enlighten your soul, remove turbulence and eliminate lethargy. It will give the wounds of love and fill the soul to overflowing with love. It will chase off the devil and eliminate terror, open heaven and create a contemplative. To readers who are familiar with the Eastern Orthodox spirituality, these words of Rome


recall to mind many passages in the Philokalia, especially the text of St. Hesychius of Rome. For Hesychius, as for Richards, the continual invocation of the Name of Jesus brings peace, sweetness, and joy, expels temptations, and opens the door to contemplation. It would be interesting to make a comparative study of the devotion to the Holy Name within the Greek East and the Medieval Latin West. In this talk, I shall limit myself to comparing two 14th-century English mystics, Richard Rowe and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, to the Greek Hesychast of their time. Devotion to the Holy Name can take many different forms. What interests us here is the development of the Jesus Prayer in the Greek Hesychast


tradition. In my last talk, we focused on the four constituent elements in the evolution of the Jesus Prayer – penance, monologic prayer, non-discursive prayer, and invocation of the Name of Jesus. By now, I believe you should have learned by heart these four elements. Here, I shall add two other basic elements that came into existence in the course of the development of the Jesus Prayer. They are a specific formula and a physical technique connected to the Jesus Prayer. Let us begin with the fifth element, the employment of a precise formula. As pointed out in my previous talk, Diadochus of Phokis, in his Gnostic chapters, recommends


the use of a simple, unvarying phrase, commencing with Lord Jesus. However, he does not say whether these two words are to be followed by others, and if so, what the other words might be. Thus, during the 5th century, there is as yet no clear evidence for what later has become the standard form of the Jesus Prayer. In the early 6th century, two monks of Gaza in Palestine, St. Vassilnoufios and St. John, proposed various formulas of short prayer, including Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. The expression Son of God was not yet included. The standard form, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, occurs for the first


time in the life of Abba Philemon, written probably in the 6th century. As for the slightly longer form, ending in have mercy on me as sinner, which is in widespread use today, this is first found during the 14th century in the life of St. Gregory of Sinai. Although one is justified to speak of a standard form, there has been and continued to be a certain variety in the expressions of the Jesus Prayer. Gregory of Sinai, for example, allows a choice of phrases. As for the sixth element, the use of a physical technique, we find no mention of it in Diadochus or the two monks of Gaza. There are, however, brief passages in John Climacus' 7th century text, The Ladder of Divine Ascent,


which may perhaps refer to the coordination of the rhythm of breathing to the Jesus Prayer. Thus, in the chapter dealing with Hezekiah or stillness, John Climacus says, Let the remembrance of Jesus be present with your every breath. Then, indeed, you will appreciate the value of stillness. But, according to Callistos Ware, it seems more probable that this text is merely metaphorical, recommending a continual invocation of Jesus, and does not have in view any specific breathing method. It is not until the late 13th and 14th centuries that we find a detailed description of the so-called psychosomatic methods in the writings of Necephorus, the Hesychast, and St. Gregory of Sinai.


The psychosomatic methods, as we saw in our first workshop, include instructions on how to sit, how to control the breathing, how to concentrate on a particular point of the body, that is, on the centre of the belly, and how to search inwardly in order to unite the mind to the heart. All this we have seen in our last workshop. In themselves, such physical techniques can be legitimately defended, for the human being is an undivided unity of soul and body, and thus the whole person must be involved in prayer and worship. In view of its complexity, however, orthodox spiritual writers during the last 150 years have assigned less importance to the physical method and issued warnings against its possible misuse.


They insist that the physical method should be employed with discretion and under the guidance of a competent spiritual director. Many orthodox writers today would recommend a simple method in saying the Jesus Prayer, for example, taking a proper external posture, regulating one's breathing, possibly in harmony with the words of the prayer, and perhaps using a prayer rope as an external aid for concentration. These are the simple points which many contemporary writers recommend instead of the more complex techniques of the 14th century Hesychast. Now, what about Richard Rowe in relation to the six elements of the Jesus Prayer? Turning from the Greek Hesychast to Richard the Hermit,


we find markedly evident in his works the fourth and most significant of the constituent elements, a fervent devotion to the Holy Name, a Jesus-centered spirituality. Rowe's thought-righteous biographer is almost entirely devoted to these two subjects, the Passion and the Holy Name of Jesus. Praise of the Holy Name of Jesus constitutes an essential part of Rowe's mysticism. Texts dedicated to the Holy Name abound in his writings, especially in his earlier works. The best-known example of Rowe's praise of the Holy Name of Jesus is the exposition of the verse, Let me quote this beautiful passage for you.


Verily, the name of Jesus is in my mind a joyous song, and heavenly music in mine ear, and in my mouth a honeyed sweetness. Wherefore, no wonder I love that name, which gives comfort to me in all my anguish. I cannot pray, I cannot meditate, but in sounding the name of Jesus. I savour no joy that is not mingled with Jesus. Wheresoever I be, wheresoever I sit, whatsoever I do, the thought of the savour of the name of Jesus never leaves my mind. I have set it in my mind, I have set it as a token upon my heart. Verily, O Jesus, is thy name desirable, lovable, and full of comfort.


End quote. I believe few Greek Hesychast would have expressed a devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus with greater fervour and outpouring of feeling. A striking expression of Rose's love for the name of Jesus is found in his commentary on the Psalter. When the psalmist refers to the name of God, Richard would interpret it as referring to the name of Jesus. Let me just cite two examples. Commenting on Psalm 12, 6, I will sing unto the name of the Lord most high, Roll right, my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation, that is, in Jesus, whom I behold in thought. And to him I shall sing in gladness of soul, when all the powers of my heart are raised up to the sounds of heaven.


Then may I sing with the joy and wonderful crying that happens in the contemplative life. In his exposition of Psalm 118, verse 55, I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night. Roll urges that the memory of the name of Jesus should be so far as possible continual. Not only by day, but also by night, thy name, Jesus, is delectable to my thought, that is, at all times I give care to my praise. There can be no doubt concerning the centrality of the holy name in Richard Roll's spirituality. But what is his position with regard to the five remaining elements of the Jesus prayer as found in the Hesychast tradition?


Let us take the first one, Pentos. Roll does not emphasize the theme of Pentos in connection with the memory of Jesus. Sorrow for sin, while not totally absent from his writings, is not a major theme in Roll. Rather than a penitential exercise, the invocation of the name Jesus is an experience of light, joy, and sweetness. This is manifest, for example, in the passages just quoted. But it would be mistaken to think that this constitutes a sharp difference between Roll and the Greek Hesychast. In fact, many Eastern writers, such as Diodocus and, above all, Hesychius, do not particularly emphasize the penitential character of the Jesus prayer, but consider it as an expression of joy and gratitude in being forgiven.


And as an appeal for help in time of need. As for the second element, the discipline of repeating a short prayer, Richard Roll is in agreement with the Greek writers in attaching great value to the continuity in the remembrance of Jesus. This is clear from the two passages already quoted in this talk, where Roll says, In describing different degrees of love in the book The Form of Living, he recommends what he terms an inseparable love. In this passage, devotion to the Holy Name is seen as a way of maintaining continual remembrance of God.


After first implying that this remembrance can be interrupted only by sleep, Roll then suggests that it extends even to the time of sleeping. When one arrives at a higher degree of love, which Richard terms singular love, one is able to say, I am sleeping, but my heart is awake. This view recalls to mind what Diocos says about the continual invocation of the Lord Jesus, even when one falls into a night's sleep. While in a number of texts, Roll speaks about the thought of Jesus, or remembrance of Jesus, as a habitual state of mind, in other texts, he recommends the habit of articulating the Holy Name. And when you speak to him using your customary name Jesu,


in your ear it will be joy, in your mouth honey, and in your heart melody, because it will seem joy to you to hear that name being pronounced, sweetness to speak it. It is clear that Richard Roll expected that on some occasions, the actual name of Jesus would be pronounced outwardly by the lips, or at least formed inwardly by the mind, rather than a general remembrance of the person of the Lord. Skipping the third element for the moment, regarding the fifth and sixth element, Roll is far less concerned with exact formula, or with outward technique of praying, than are the 14th century Greek writers. Roll gives the impression that the name of Jesus is to be invoked on its own,


or at most with one or two other words. The use of Jesus on its own with an adjective such as fair Jesu, sweet Jesu, is also confirmed by other English mystics. In the Greek East, on the other hand, the use of the name Jesus on its own is scarcely advocated. It is normally combined with the titles Lord and Christ. and followed by other words as well. As for the physical method, Richard concurs with the Greek Hesychast on one point. Both tell the aspirant to sit when praying. Richard states that if he were to hold on to deep devotion, he would choose to sit, for if one does much standing or walking,


the body gets tired, and the soul too is weary, and one is not as quiet as one can be. Roll admits that he finds himself most at rest, and his heart moves upwards when sitting. So, this is the common point between Roll and the Hesychast. And I would say also with the Far East tradition, sitting is the ideal posture for meditating. For the other aspects of the physical technique adopted by the 14th century Hesychast, there is no evidence in Richard's works, or indeed in any other Western medieval writer. We have intentionally kept the third element, that is, using the Jesus Prayer as a non-discursive prayer,


to the end, for it is here that we find the most notable difference between Richard Roll and the Greek Hesychast. Hesychasm regards the Jesus Prayer as a means of entry into inward prayer, progressing from prayer of the lips to prayer of the mind in heart. Richard Roll, for his part, says that the invocation of the name opens the window of contemplation and makes a contemplative person. Both sides then view the invocation of Jesus as a gateway leading to contemplative prayer. Roll, however, links invocation of the Holy Name especially with the experience of kalor, ganor, and durgor, of heat, song, and sweetness, that in his view characterizes contemplation


and represents the highest level of mystical experience to which the soul can rise in this present life. Roll's persistent references to heat or burning are of great interest. The Hesychasts likewise speak of a certain warmth as an effect normally accompanying the practice of the Jesus Prayer. They are careful in distinguishing between natural warmth, which arises through concentration in prayer, and a higher grace-given warmth, which, as Theophan the Recruits later explains, is distinct from the warmth of the flesh and does not produce noticeable changes in the body, but manifests itself by a subtle feeling of sweetness. Roll, for his part,


while affirming that this heat is not natural but a gift of God deriving from the fire of the Holy Spirit, describes it as producing noticeable alteration in the body. Thus, the prologue to his famous work, The Fire of Love, opens with this word, I cannot tell you how surprised I was the first time I felt my heart begin to warm. It was real warmth too, not imaginary, and it felt as if it were actually on fire. I had to keep feeling my breast to make sure there was no physical reason for it. This is certainly very different from what Theophan describes as a subtle feeling of sweetness. Roll actually had to feel his breast


to find out whether it was really burning inside from some mysterious fire. It is over the question of imageless prayer that Richard Roll and his Hesychast contemporaries evidently disagree. For the Hesychast, feelings of warmth or sweetness are relatively elementary. Such sensible experiences do not represent the height of the mystical ascent. For them, true contemplative prayer begins only with the transcending or going beyond of the senses together with all images and thought. Richard, on the other hand, nowhere presents the evocation of the name as a way of passing beyond images and thought. He believed that the imagination must be controlled,


but he nowhere suggests that it should be transcended. His vivid descriptions of heat, song, and sweetness, even though they are not to be regarded as purely physical experiences, clearly imply the continuing use of the imagination. Whereas for the Hesychast, the Jesus Prayer is a way of simplifying the mind by freeing it from discursive thinking and uniting it with the heart. For Richard, the invocation of Jesus is a prayer of healing and an expression of imaginative affective love. However, non-discursive imageless prayer, which was not emphasized by Rowe, finds a central place in one of Rowe's contemporary fellow countrymen,


the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing. Non-discursive prayer is a distinctive mark of the apophatic tradition which had its origins in the Greek fathers of the Church. This tradition was brought into the medieval Latin West especially through the translation of the works of Pseudo-Dionysius. While Rowe's writings show little Dionysian influence, the author of The Cloud reveals clear dependence on Dionysius' book, Mystical Theology. Toward the end of The Cloud, the anonymous mystic pays his debt to Dionysius in the following words, Anyone who reads Denny's book will find confirmed there all that I have been trying to teach in this book


from start to finish. In this section of my talk, I am going to compare the author of The Cloud with the first four elements of the Jesus prayer according to the Hesychast tradition. I would skip the fifth and the sixth, the last two, because they are not important for the English mystic. Among these elements, a non-discursive, imageless approach to prayer constitutes the central issue of The Cloud. It is clearly suggested by the title of the book. The symbol of the cloud, probably taken from the epistle of Moses, contemplative ascent to God by entering into the clouds and darkness, is the favorite image in the apathetic mystical tradition. In our author,


it signifies obscurity, darkness, or ignorance. Entering into the clouds means the abandonment of discursive reasoning and conceptual knowledge during the time of prayer. Pay attention, during the time of prayer only. It is true that the English mystic insists upon the need for discursive meditation, especially on the Passion of Christ, as a preparatory stage for contemplation. But as the time comes when God gives the signal to invite a person to a higher level of contemplative prayer, then one must leave behind reflective meditation in order to enter into the clouds. What was useful before can now only be an obstacle drawing the contemplative away from the one thing necessary,


the best part chosen by Mary. Entering into the clouds means renouncing human conceptual knowledge in order to receive super-conceptual knowledge bestowed by God. The author speaks of the cloud of forgetting, which is beneath you, between you and every created thing, and the cloud of unknowing, which lies above you, between you and your God. The real contemplative work consists in putting aside all imaginative and discursive thinking under the clouds of forgetting beneath us, and trying to pierce the cloud of unknowing above with the darts of loving desire or blind stirring of love. The reason why we should abandon


imagination and reasoning during prayer is that our images and conceptual knowledge about God are imperfect. God is not only above everything existing in the world, but is also above everything that we can imagine or conceive of him. All our images and concepts of God fall short of him. God is incomprehensible and hence cannot be reached through our knowledge. On the contrary, God can be attained only through love. For this reason, during the time of prayer, we must bury our imagination and reasoning under the clouds of forgetting, so that when our mind is empty and at rest, a blind stirring of love may arise in the depths of our being,


reaching out to God like fiery sparks flying up from burning coal. The author of The Clouds also describes our loving desire as the naked intent stretching unto God, naked, that is, not clothed in any image or concept. For the English mystic, our loving desire is the most important element in contemplation. But the flame of love can arise only when our imaginative and reasoning faculties are put to rest in a mystical sleep. Another image used by the author. The author compares this loving desire to a blind stirring or a dark fire which does not carry with it clear conceptual knowledge.


But it does eventually lead to a higher experimental knowledge called wisdom, which is a gift of God. The Latin word for wisdom, sapientia, comes from the verb sapere, which means to taste or to savour. More than an intellectual knowledge, sapientia means knowledge through tasting, knowledge that is through direct contact or loving experience. This is the fruit of contemplation. Therefore, the negative way, or the way of unknowing, is actually a way of loving desire which eventually leads to a higher knowledge, a knowledge through love or wisdom. Non-discursive prayer or naked contemplation


is undoubtedly the central message of the cloud of unknowing, which corresponds with the third element of the Jesus prayer. What about the second element, the repetition of monologic prayer? The author of the cloud says that the contemplative normally prays without words, but words may spontaneously well up from a contemplative silence. In any case, if one chooses to use words, the author advises him to use a short word, possibly with one syllable, such as God, love, or sin. If monologic prayer means prayer with a single phrase, the author of the cloud has a more strict, restricted idea of monologic prayer and intends prayer of one single word,


possibly with one syllable, which can be easily found in English, in the English language. However, he does not recommend the continual repetition of the words. One should allow the words to well up spontaneously within oneself and use it when one feels drawn to it to do so. Then concerning the first element, penthos, as is in Rome, it does not occupy a prominent place in the author of the cloud. However, it is certainly present. The fact that he mentions the word sin among the few monosyllabic words which he recommends for use during contemplative prayer is significant, and his instruction on how to use the word sin in prayer is also inspiring. The most serious difficulty


in comparing the cloud with the Jesus prayer concerns the fourth, the most important element, that is, the invocation of the name of Jesus. The usual objection against the author of the cloud is not only over the use of the holy name, but more, basically, regarding the place of Jesus Christ in the author's contemplative vision. Does Christ fit into this imageless, super-conceptual void? Where is Christ when I am between the cloud of unknowing and the cloud of forgetting? I believe William Johnston has made a valid case in defending the Christocentric character of the author of the cloud. First of all, the English mystic distinguishes between two ways of relating to Jesus. One way is to relate to him


in his lowly historical existence. Another is to relate to the same Jesus as he is now in his recent glorious existence as Lord of the Universe. Remember, a similar distinction was already made long ago by John Cashin. The reason Jesus, or the Cosmic Christ, to use an expression of Pierre de Chardin, transcends space and time and is not limited by bodily form One is able to have a deep sense of presence or vivid awareness of Jesus without image, concept, or thought. The cloud teaches that this cursive, imaginative meditating on the life of Jesus should be abandoned in favor of a dark contemplation


of the divinity concealed in his humanity. Of course, during the preparatory stage, one needs to meditate on the passion of the Lord for certain lengthy periods until one is called to move on. The way of meeting with the risen Jesus is typified by the contemplative attitude of Mary Magdalene, presented in more than one chapter of The Cloud. But what about the invocation of the Holy Name, the core element of the Jesus Prayer? Unlike his contemporary Richard Rowe, the invocation of Jesus is not prominent in The Author of the Cloud. In recommending words for being used as monologic prayer, he does not mention the name of Jesus. This can be explained


by the fact that the author is recommending words with one syllable only. Nevertheless, in a passage describing the joy of the Spirit overflowing to the senses, the author bursts out with a sudden outcry, Jesus, sweet Jesus. From this, we may infer that the author actually has in mind the name of Jesus as an expression of monologic prayer. The author's devotion to the Holy Name is also manifest in the conclusion of his book The Pursuit of Wisdom. Quote, Whoever you are then who desire to come to the contemplation of God, you must gather together your thoughts and your desires and make of them a church,


and there learn to love only this good word, Jesus, so that all your desires and thoughts are directed to love Jesus alone, and that unceasingly, insofar as it may be here. In conclusion, in comparing Richard Rowe and the author of The Cloud with the Greek Hesychast, it is interesting to point out the different yet complementary character of the two English mystics. In reference to the several constituent elements of the Jesus Prayer, the most outstanding aspect of Richard Rowe is his ardent devotion to the name of Jesus. What I found lacking in him is the element of imageless, non-discursive prayer.


When we come to the author of The Cloud, the situation is just the opposite. The most notable affinity with the Hesychast is the author's non-discursive, apophatic approach to prayer, whereas what is deficient in him is the centrality of the invocation of Jesus. If we combine the two English mystics, either by moderating Richard Rowe's fiery devotion to the name with the Dionysian, apophatic approach of The Cloud, or else, by introducing Richard Rowe's fervent invocation of the name of Jesus, making it a privileged prayer of words for the cloud of unknowing, in either case, we would have an eminent counterpart of the Greek Hesychast in the 14th century West.


Our topic this morning is the etheric prayer and the Christification of humans and cosmos. We have a beautiful icon of the Transfiguration in front of us. Veneration of icons occupies an important place in the Eastern Orthodox spirituality. It is also becoming more and more popular in the Western Latin Church today. It would be edifying to observe how an icon painter of the Eastern tradition proceeds to the task of painting an icon. Before starting the actual work of painting, the icon painter spends a long period of time, usually several months, in preparation. The preparation normally consists in praying,


fasting, and meditating on the theme of the icon at hand. In this way, the painter's mind and heart are gradually purified, and he sees the icon slowly but progressively appearing in his heart. He then continues to nourish his inner icon with prayer and devotion until it is fully realized and radiating with beauty and glory. Only in this way will the icon be able to reflect the beauty of the inner icon and transmit the devotion of the painter. In forming the inner icon in his heart, the icon painter is actually transformed by it. So the process of painting an icon is not simple. It involves external work,


but first of all inner work and the inner transformation of the painter himself. Devotion to icons has always had great importance in orthodox churches. This is because the theme of image is central to orthodox theology and spirituality. Icon actually is the Greek word for image. Don't forget that. The concept of image lies at the heart of the theology of the Old Testament, especially in the book of Genesis and in the wisdom literature. In the New Testament, the term is further enriched with a Christological content adding new dimensions to our understanding of the human person. While Genesis says that humans are created


in the image of God, Paul in his letter to the Colossians designates Christ as the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Hence humans are created after the image of Christ. We may call the human person the image of the image of God, that is, a copy of the archetype which is Christ. Chapter 1 of Genesis tells us that after creating the world, God proposed to himself let us make humankind in our image according to our likeness. These two terms, image and likeness, were taken to be synonyms by the majority of the fathers of the church. Irenaeus, one of the earliest fathers, however, was the first to make a distinction


between these two terms. For him, image stands for human nature as it is created by God. It is a reflection of God and is something belonging essentially to humans which cannot be lost. So image is something basic, fundamental to human nature as it comes out from the creation of God. Likeness, on the other hand, has a more dynamic connotation. It points to the destiny of humans. Created in the image of God, humans are called to attain to the likeness of God. Hence, likeness of God is a goal which humans are called to achieve through their free response to God. The condition of Adam,


however, was somehow different. He was created in the image of God but at the same time was endowed with God's likeness as a free gift. Adam possessed both the image and likeness of God from the beginning. In other words, the image of God in Adam was conformity with its archetype through a free gift. Unfortunately, as a consequence of sin, Adam lost the likeness of God while retaining his image which cannot be lost. The fall of Adam entailed the fall from likeness to unlikeness. The idea of deification so central to orthodox theology means literally to become God. The concrete meaning of the term


is the restoration of the image of God disfigured by sin through recovering the likeness of God which was lost. Just as Christ is the original image of God and the archetype of humans, deification or the restoration of the image of God in humans actually coincides with Christification, a term which means transformation into Christ. The process of Christification is closely related to the Jesus Prayer. In the biblical tradition, the name stands for the person. By constantly invoking the holy name of Jesus, we open ourselves to his presence in order to experience his saving and transforming power. By invoking the holy name upon the world,


we also contribute to the Christification of the cosmos. Hence, each invocation of Lord Jesus Christ brings about an advance in the ongoing process of Christification of humans and the cosmos. This process of Christification is ultimately based on the mystery of Christ, especially the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. And the whole mystery of Christ is summed up in the celebration of the Eucharist. In each case, that is, in the incarnation, the death and resurrection of Christ and the Eucharist, there is a special connection between this mystery and the Jesus Prayer. My talk this morning will reflect on the following points. The incarnation


and the restoration of the image of God, the resurrection and the transfiguration, and the Eucharist and continual prayer in the process of Christification. So let's begin with our first point, the incarnation and the restoration of the image of God. In reference to the mystery of the incarnation, Saint Athanasius, one of the early fathers of the Church, a great defender of the Nicene faith, made the following audacious statement. The Son of God became human so that we may become God. The goal of the incarnation is above all to accomplish our deification or Christification. The Son of God took our human nature in order to communicate


his divine nature to us. If we express this idea in terms of image, the incarnation can be seen as joining together the archetype that is the Son of God with its image that is our human nature injured by sin so that the image may be restored to a perfect conformity with its archetype. The grace of the incarnation even goes beyond the sin of Adam in such a way that the conformity between the archetype and the image wrought in Christ far surpasses the likeness of God lost by Adam. The restoration of the image is not limited to the individual human being assumed by Christ. According to the Universalist


inclusive view of incarnation held by the Greek fathers, the Son of God by assuming our human nature in a mysterious way is united to each human person restoring the obscured image of each one of us. This view of the Greek fathers has been adopted by Vatican II in its pastoral constitution of the Church. To the children of Adam he, Christ, restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onwards. Since human nature as he assumed it was not allowed by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by his incarnation the Son of God has united himself


in some fashion with every human being. Thus, the incarnation is the foundation for the Christification of humans and through them of the entire cosmos which is united to Christ through his human body. In the first part of the Jesus Prayer we invoke Lord Jesus Christ Son of God. By joining the title Son of God to the historical name of Jesus of Nazareth we profess our faith in the mystery of incarnation. The eternal Son of God became a human being at a definite point of time in history and was given the name Jesus. By repeating the invocation Son of God we also


remind ourselves that Jesus is essentially the Son Christ the image of the invisible God is the Son of God. Hence, this image bears the character of the Son. It is in the image of the Son that Adam was created and it is also through this video image that humans are being restored through the incarnation. This is expressed by Paul in his letter to the Romans. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. He noted that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans chapter 8 29 The image which each one of us is destined to become is precisely the image of the Son. In the


life of Jesus the image of the Son is manifested through his unique consciousness of being the Son. The most striking characteristic in his earthly life was his intimate relationship with the Father based on a profound filial consciousness. He was constantly aware of coming from the Father and returning to the Father. He knew that he was sent by the Father to accomplish a special mission, that he had come to do the will of the Father even to the point of death. He called God with the intimate address Abba and manifested throughout his life a complete trust in and loving surrender to the Father. This Abba experience of filial relationship constitutes the very image of the Son and,


according to contemporary theologians, the very basis of Christology also. The purpose of the Incarnation is to reveal to us the intimate relationship between the Son that exists from eternity and to invite us to share in the same filial relationship with the Father so that we may become sons and daughters in the one Son, Jesus Christ. The idea of being conformed to the image of the Son means sharing in Jesus' filial consciousness and intimacy with the Father, which is the source of mystical experience for Christians. According to the Fathers of the Church, especially Athanasius and Saint Basil, it is the Holy Spirit that conforms us to the image of Christ.


For, as Paul testifies, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Son, or Spirit of adoption, who bears witness to our Spirit that we are children of God and inspires us to cry out Abba Father. Romans 8.15-16 The fact that the Spirit teaches us to use Jesus' own address, Abba, to call upon the Father, means that the Holy Spirit introduces us into Jesus' own filial consciousness and intimacy with the Father, thereby conforming us to the image of the Son. Hence, by repeating the evocation Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, we not only profess our faith in the Incarnation, but also pray that


through the Holy Spirit we may be conformed to the image of the Son by participating in his filial consciousness and intimate relationship with the Father. According to the teaching of Buddhism, the Buddha nature resides in each one of us. Every one of us is a potential Buddha. This Buddha nature is deep within us and is often veiled by our illusions and suffocated by our selfish desires. We must constantly free ourselves from illusions and desires through the practice of meditation so that the mind may be purified and illuminated and the hidden Buddha nature may emerge in us. In


the tradition of pure land Buddhism, the process of purification and of becoming Buddha is accomplished through the constant invocation of the name of Buddha, Namu Amida Buddha, coupled with unconditional faith in Buddha himself. In a similar way, Christianity teaches that there is the Christ image, instead of Buddha nature, we have the Christ image latent in each one of us. Our task is to let this image emerge and develop into a full expression. Put in different words, this means that the mystery of incarnation is to be repeated, in an analogous fashion of course, in each one of us. We must allow our archetype Christ to take possession of us


and to transform us into his likeness. And by analogy with Pure Land Buddhism, the constant invocation of the name of Jesus with personal faith in him will effect the formation of Christ's image in us. If we adopt Meister Eckhart's view of the birth of the divine child in the soul, we may say that each invocation, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy, is a prayer for the child Jesus to be born again in our heart. It is a process of Christification according to the image of the Son. We come to the second point, the feast of Resurrection and Transfiguration. The feast of the Transfiguration is closely


related to the theme of Christification. It is a major feast in the Orthodox tradition. The episode occupies a central position in Orthodox spirituality, especially in the Hesychast tradition. According to the Synoptic Gospels, six days or eight days after Peter's confession and Jesus' first prediction of his passion, death, and resurrection, he brought the three disciples to a high mountain. There, while Jesus was praying, he was transfigured before them, his face shining like the sun, his clothes becoming dazzling white. In order to strengthen the disciples' faith,


and to make them understand that the Messiah must suffer first before he entered into glory, Jesus gave them a foretaste of the glory of his resurrection, when his humanity would also participate fully in the glory of his divinity. The theme of the light of Mount Tabor, to which we shall return later, has special importance for the Hesychast tradition in connection with the Jesus' prayer. The transfiguration is the passing anticipation of the glory of the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus means a radical change of his human existence. It marks an entry into a new spiritual mode of existence, belonging totally to the sphere of the divine. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul explains our bodily


resurrection in terms of transformation. He says, So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable. What is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor. It is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness. It is raised in power. It is sown a physical body. It is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15 42-44 Paul employs the image of sowing to explain our future resurrection. There are continuity and transformation. The seed buried in the ground sprouts into a full-grown plant. Paul's


stress is on the contrast and radical transformation of the process. What is sown is perishable, weak, and in dishonor. What is raised is imperishable, endowed with power, and in glory. The last pair of contrasts is most striking. It is sown a physical body. It is raised a spiritual body. We can easily understand what is meant by a physical body, but it is difficult to see the meaning of a spiritual body. The expression seems to be a contradiction in terms, for a spirit has no body, and a body is bound to be material, no matter how subtle it might be. However, here, Paul is not talking according to the categories of Greek philosophy, contrasting spiritual with corporeal or


material. Rather, when he said spiritual body, Paul is following the Jewish biblical tradition, according to which spiritual means, first of all, of the Holy Spirit. Hence, a spiritual body means a body filled with and transformed by the Holy Spirit. For Paul, this is the real meaning of the resurrection, being transformed from a physical body to a spiritual body, and the process takes place even during our life. It begins from our lifetime. This passage of Paul applies to Jesus' resurrection also. By the resurrection of Jesus, it does not mean that Jesus simply returned to his former life, only to die again. On the


contrary, the resurrection of Jesus means a radical transformation of his whole human reality, a breakthrough into a new state of existence which is penetrated by the Holy Spirit and belonging fully to the sphere of God. In the same passage, Paul goes on to say, The first man, Adam, became a living being. The last Adam, that is Christ, became a life-giving spirit. The reason Jesus was so filled with the Holy Spirit that he became not only a spiritual body but a life-giving spirit, that is, the source and giver of the spirit to the world. According to John, the Pentecost took place not fifty days later but on


the very day of the resurrection. In the evening on that day, the risen Lord made his first appearance to the disciples gathered together in the supper room. After greeting them the keys, Jesus breathed on them, saying, Receive the Holy Spirit. In John's view, the death, resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit together formed the three moments of the one Paschal mystery. The special task of the risen Lord is precisely to bestow on us the Holy Spirit, whom he has abundantly received from the Father through the resurrection. What has the resurrection to do with our Jesus' prayer? We don't mention the resurrection in the Jesus' prayer, but we


know that Jesus' prayer begins with the invocation, Lord Jesus Christ. The title Lord is especially related to the resurrection. At the end of his lengthy discourse delivered on the day of the Pentecost, Peter concludes saying that the entire house of Israel should know that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom they crucified and whom God raised up from the dead. Peter considers Lord to be the special title bestowed on the risen Jesus. Paul, in his turn, joins the confession of Jesus as Lord with our faith in his resurrection. If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him


from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10. Paul presents this formula as the synthesis of our Christian faith which was probably used for the profession of faith at the baptismal rite in the early church. Lord is a special title for the risen Christ. Each time we invoke Lord Jesus Christ, we are opening ourselves to the saving presence and the transforming power of the risen Lord. Paul says that the last Adam became a life-giving spirit or simply affirms the Lord is the spirit. Consequently, when we invoke Lord Jesus Christ, we are actually invoking the risen Lord to give us his Holy Spirit in order to


transform each of us into a spiritual body similar to the glorified body of the risen Lord. The transforming power of the risen Lord is not limited to humankind. With the resurrection of Jesus, the whole universe has entered into a new phase of history. When the Jews were asking for a sign from Jesus, he gave them no other sign than that of Jonah. By the sign of Jonah, buried. For three days and three nights, his body will lie in the heart of the earth, that is, in the tomb. But by extension, we may consider the risen Lord a lasting sign of Jonah, not only for three days and three nights, but a lasting sign of


the resurrection Jesus. From this center, which is an inexhaustible source of energy, the risen Lord constantly emanates his power to transform the entire world into his body. With each invocation, Lord Jesus Christ, we participate in this process of Christification of the cosmos through the power of this spirit. In the letter to the Romans, Paul reveals the secret yearning of the entire creation and of humans in particular. The


creation waits with eager longing for being set free from its bondage to decay and for participating in the glory of the children of God. Paul writes, The whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now, and not only the creation, but we ourselves groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. The object of our yearning and that of the creation is the participation in the glory of Christ's resurrection. Paul continues to reveal the Holy Spirit to be the driving force of all this yearning and groaning for he says, the Spirit intercedes for us with groaning too deep for worth. Ordinarily,


our yearning remains worthless, too deep for worth, but urged by the same Holy Spirit, it often bursts out into fervent invocations such as Maranatha or Come Lord Jesus. When we repeat these invocations, we are articulating our deepest yearning in unison with the entire creation for the Christification of the cosmos or the transformation of the world into the one body of the risen Christ. This transformation of the world and humans is not a.


The aim of Holy Communion is especially for the Christification of the participant. Unlike ordinary food, which is transformed into the body and blood of the consumer, the Eucharistic food transforms the partaker into itself. According to Capus Sinus, an energizing power coming into contact with an inferior one does not leave it as it was. Thus, for example, he says, when iron comes together with fire, it retains nothing of the property of iron and becomes fiery. When earth and water are thrown on fire, they likewise exchange their properties for those of fire. Capus Sinus goes


on to say, So it is evident that when Christ enters into us and becomes one with us, we are transfigured, we are immersed in him as a single drop of water is lost in a vast ocean of perfection. The idea of transformation into Christ not only refers to the spirit, but includes also our bodily reality. It is the fundamental belief of St. Gregory Palamas, a contemporary of Capus Sinus, and contemplates the light of Christ on Mount Tabor with the eyes of their transfigured bodies. He attributes the source of the transfiguring light to


the Eucharistic body of Christ. He says, Becoming one body of we receive its brilliance. Even in the bodies of the thing, the light of divine grace is reflected, just as the skin of Moses' face shone after conversing with God. According


to Capus Sinus, it is in the partaking of the Eucharistic feast that the baptismal illumination will attain its fullness on earth. It begins with baptism, and it reaches fullness in the Eucharist. If in other sacraments we are enlightened by the rays of the divine sun, through Holy Communion we receive the sun itself into our heart to illuminate and transform us, soul, and body, into light. The special contribution of Capus Sinus is to put into relief that continual prayer cannot be separated from participation in the sacramental life of the Church. The two are closely connected. Capus Sinus attempts to link what he calls the


interior Eucharist, which is the unceasing invocation of the holy name of Jesus, with frequent communion, which is the sacramental root of the presence of Christ in the believer's heart. There is a reciprocal relationship between inner prayer and participation at the Eucharist. On the one hand, Holy Communion produces the fruit of incision prayer in our lives. On the other, continual prayer, or the prayer of Jesus, has a quasi-sacramental power to prolong Jesus' presence in us throughout the day. For this reason, Capt. Silas views the Jesus' prayer as an extension of Holy Communion. He points to the real presence of Christ, attained both by the invocation of the name and by communion with His Eucharistic


Body as the way and end of our life in Christ. It is through the Eucharist and continual prayer that we are constantly being transformed into Christ. In this way, adding sanctification to sanctification, that of the continual meditation, we are changed into Christ's likeness from one degree of glory to another. To conclude, a splendidly painted icon of the Lord naturally inspires our devotion for Jesus. It also arouses our admiration for the icon painter. Perhaps we even slightly envy him


or her. But do we know that we are all called to be icon painters? As we pointed out at the beginning of this talk, the inner icon must first be formed in the heart of the icon before any external work of painting can take place. Each one of us is entrusted with the task of letting the Christ image residing deep down within us emerge and come to full expression. We not only have the task of painting the inner image in our heart, but also the mandate to contribute to making the whole creation a living icon of Christ. This process of forming the Christ image, both within and without, is called Christification


or Transfiguration through the light of Christ shining from Mount Tabor. The best way for participating in the Taboric Light of Christ is through the Eucharistic celebration and continual prayer, the unceasing invocation of the Holy Name of Jesus.