Pray Without Ceasing
Rev. Dr. Stephanie Rutt
What does it mean to pray without ceasing? How do we rejoice evermore in the midst of our challenging times? One way to approach these questions, is to follow the journey of an anonymous Orthodox Christian pilgrim whose travels are chronicled in the classic text, The Way of a Pilgrim. We know little about our pilgrim except his travels took place in the mid-1800s and that he carried only a knapsack containing dry bread, his Bible and the Philokalia, the Orthodox text, which translates “love of the beautiful or good.” Desiring to learn how to pray without ceasing and experience unity with God, he is given the Jesus Prayer, also called the Prayer of the Heart, to descend into the silence, hesychasm, of his own heart. In English, the Prayer would be translated "Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner." However, the term mercy, which can invoke images of a separate God largely to be feared, can also be translated grace. In this context, we as sinners, or as beings less than whole or perfect in our humanity, call upon the Christ, the full, omnipresent, mystery of God, for grace to descend into the pulsing depths of our own hearts where, within the hesychasm, unity with our God may occur.
As the monks of Mount Athos, and others, have long chanted, we, too, will be learning the prayer in the Old Church Slavonic language. This liturgical language will allow us to dive deep on the sonar of the sound current as well as to transmute the more restrictive English translation. You can hear it on this YouTube site among others:
The Way of a Pilgrim tells the stories of our pilgrim’s encounters with others: monks, priests, merchants, soldiers, a postmaster, a sea captain, professor, cook turned nun, among others. Each encounter offers insights into his journey of the heart – how he might better learn to pray without ceasing. We, too, will be relating these stories to those in our own lives to mine the treasures for us today on our journey to praying without ceasing.
Where: At the Sparrows Nest located on the same floor as the Temple.
Prerequisites: an open heart
Required/Suggested/Recommended: Reading The Way of a Pilgrim, translated by R.M. French, forward by Houston Smith. Available on Amazon.
A Beginner’s Introduction to the Philokalia by Anthony M. Coniaris
(Readers of this short easy-to-read little book will be wholly struck by the similarities found in eastern texts such as The Bhagavad Gita and the teachings of the Buddha. If the spark here becomes a flame, I would love to offer an extended study of the full Philokalia beginning in January.) Available on Amazon.
Start Date: Sept. 26th - Dec. 19th (no class Nov. 28th)
Number of Classes: 12
Number of Participants: Min 6/Max 10
Day/Time: Thursdays, 6:00 - 8:00 PM
Please contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and registration