Author Topic: The Jesus Prayer  (Read 438 times)

Offline GiftOfGod

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The Jesus Prayer
« on: December 22, 2020, 01:09:22 AM »
Is it acceptable for a traditional Roman Rite Catholic to recite the Jesus Prayer?
 

Offline drummerboy

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Re: The Jesus Prayer
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2020, 11:01:54 AM »
Its a passage(s) from the Gospel, how is that unacceptable?
The bee is small among flying things, but her fruit hath the chiefest sweetness - Ecclesiasticus 3:11

"Our help is in the name of the Lord"
 
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Offline GiftOfGod

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Re: The Jesus Prayer
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2020, 10:00:46 PM »
Its a passage(s) from the Gospel, how is that unacceptable?

From Wikipedia:
Quote
It is often repeated continually as a part of personal ascetic practice, its use being an integral part of the eremitic tradition of prayer known as hesychasm.

Hesychasm was controversial in the pre-Conciliar Catholic Church, with some theologians opining that it was a heresy. Even if not heretical, it is an "Orthodox" (Eastern schismatic) prayer.

Also from Wikipedia:
Quote
The Eastern Orthodox theology of the Jesus Prayer enunciated in the 14th century by Gregory Palamas was generally rejected by Latin Church theologians until the 20th century. Pope John Paul II called Gregory Palamas a saint, a great writer, and an authority on theology. He also spoke with appreciation of hesychasm as "that deep union of grace which Eastern theology likes to describe with the particularly powerful term of 'theosis', 'divinization'", and likened the meditative quality of the Jesus Prayer to that of the Catholic Rosary.
 

Offline St.Justin

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Re: The Jesus Prayer
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2020, 10:31:35 PM »
St Paul said we must pray unceasingly.

What is heretical about saying "Lord Jesus have mercy on me a sinner"?

There is a very good book called "The Way of the Pilgrim".  Fr. Walter Ciszek S.J wrote eeh forward for the book
 
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: The Jesus Prayer
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2020, 12:02:19 AM »
Its a passage(s) from the Gospel, how is that unacceptable?

From Wikipedia:
Quote
It is often repeated continually as a part of personal ascetic practice, its use being an integral part of the eremitic tradition of prayer known as hesychasm.

Hesychasm was controversial in the pre-Conciliar Catholic Church, with some theologians opining that it was a heresy. Even if not heretical, it is an "Orthodox" (Eastern schismatic) prayer.

Also from Wikipedia:
Quote
The Eastern Orthodox theology of the Jesus Prayer enunciated in the 14th century by Gregory Palamas was generally rejected by Latin Church theologians until the 20th century. Pope John Paul II called Gregory Palamas a saint, a great writer, and an authority on theology. He also spoke with appreciation of hesychasm as "that deep union of grace which Eastern theology likes to describe with the particularly powerful term of 'theosis', 'divinization'", and likened the meditative quality of the Jesus Prayer to that of the Catholic Rosary.

We must pray the Jesus prayer with the true Scriptural meaning,  the Catholic meaning. The Our Father isn't Protestant because Protestants say it.

It would be untraditional to have it take the place of the Rosary, in particular for Latin-rite traditionalists.  But it seems to me to be a good prayer for  personal use.
[Matthew 8:26]  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.

[Job  38:1-5]  Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said: [2] Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? [3] Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou me. [4] Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding. [5] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

Jesus, Mary, I love Thee! Save souls!
 

Offline GiftOfGod

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Re: The Jesus Prayer
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2020, 04:43:04 AM »
There is a very good book called "The Way of the Pilgrim".  Fr. Walter Ciszek S.J wrote eeh forward for the book

Does that book have an imprimatur? If so, what year and by whom?
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: The Jesus Prayer
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2020, 08:00:18 AM »
Its a passage(s) from the Gospel, how is that unacceptable?
What is heretical about saying "Lord Jesus have mercy on me a sinner"?

Well I'm not too familiar with the Jesus prayer so I could be wrong, but there might be a disconnect between the words and the prayer. If the manner or goal are based in heretical theology or lead to a belief in heretical theology then it's a bad prayer, even if the words are perfectly fine. (But again, I'm not too familiar with this particular prayer. It might be fine for all I know.)
 

Offline GiftOfGod

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Re: The Jesus Prayer
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2020, 01:48:11 PM »
There is a very good book called "The Way of the Pilgrim".  Fr. Walter Ciszek S.J wrote eeh forward for the book

I found this very interesting review of that edition, from an "Orthodox" perspective.

Quote
Dangerous, distorted translation of the original book
Reviewed in the United States on May 3, 2015
Verified Purchase

I bought this version originally but was then later given the Savin version as a gift. Later still, I received a Russian copy of the original and could then compare the three. The Bacovcin translation has wonderful prose, but this comes at significant cost in terms of content. The book seems to actively attempt to arrest the story of the Pilgrim from Russian Orthodox tradition within which it was forged and, in doing so, leads a spiritually hungry reader down a dangerous path to misunderstanding the Jesus Prayer that the Pilgrim practices. True, there are many (so called) pundits that believe Way of a Pilgrim, by itself, is dangerous in promoting a catalysed approach to spiritual enlightenment. However, these commenters are neither monks nor hesychasts nor apparently experienced in the Prayer (I am speaking of particularly of Alexei Osipov and others). Thus, according to the hermits, recent saints and desert fathers of the Orthodox Church, the book itself is fine. However, this translation actually contains enough distortions that one could be spiritually misled.

Here are the main challenges as I see them:

1) The book translates a Russian Orthodox original but does so into a Catholic/Uniate style

I am not trying to take a polemic stance. It's simply a fact that Way of a Pilgrim is a firmly, Orthodox work and Walter Czisek was a Jesuit priest and convicted spy that was trying proselytize Russians in the name of the pope. Apart from Jesuits having nothing to do with hesychasm (and actually having worked historically against its spread), there is also no reason to believe Mr. Czisek--someone that was neither a monk nor an ascetic, nor a Russian, nor an Orthodox--would understand the spiritual message within the book's pages. That seems evident from his nonsensical forward. One can only conclude that the book is an attempt to "generalise" the story's content or suggest that it has some general, Christian character. However, it doesn't. Orthodox and Catholics do not agree, first and foremost, on matters of spiritual struggle. It is not clear what Ms. Bacovcin's religious affiliation is. However, this is important in translating spiritual works.

2) Key terms are left out to make the book seem "generic"

Correspondingly, the author leaves out certain important terms during the translation or substitutes clearly Orthodox terms for ones used by Catholics. "Rosary" is used instead of "schotki" to describe the prayer rope of the Pilgrim. Whenever someone crosses himself in Way of a Pilgrim, Bacovcin translates this as "bless". Catholics and Orthodox cross themselves differently, and it is decidedly more prominent in Orthodox, ascetic practice. "Staretz", a term reserved for someone that has reached hesychia and has the wisdom to guide others is substituted with "elder," which has an ambiguous meaning. "Prayer of the Heart" (the correct translation of the Jesus Prayer into English) is referred to as "heartfelt prayer"---something that has a completely different meaning. In other areas, schema-monks (a high ranking designation only among Orthodox monks) are referred to as monks or preachers.

These may seem like small distinctions. However, collectively, they subtract from the much deeper and richer intended meaning of the book and from its Orthodox character.

3) Key concepts are distorted

However, all of this would be forgivable if the essential elements of Way of a Pilgrim were left intact. They aren't. On the teaching of the Prayer, Bacovcin translates the importance of "removing all thoughts" as "being free of cares". Yet, the removal of thoughts is a separate matter from the removal of cares and the latter, without the former, could definitely lead to delusion--the main danger in practising the Prayer haphazardly. That seemingly innocuous substitution even makes the book seem inharmonious as the Pilgrim later realises that it is his thoughts and the thoughts of others that seem to mislead him and them as they are practicing the Prayer.

Moreover, since "Prayer of the Heart" is discarded for "heartfelt prayer" by the author, the key concept that the Prayer may eventually may come to reside in one's heart is lost almost completely--or, at least, is not given the center-stage given in the original book. This becomes even more apparent in the story: especially when the Pilgrim says, "When I began to pray with the heart…" and mentions how the words of Scripture and even his surroundings became more comprehensible to him. Bacovcin treats these experiences analytically and not spiritually--using terms such as "insight" instead of more accurate terms such as "perception". Furthermore, in the active voice that the translator uses, the story suggests that the Pilgrim is boasting of how he acquired this new insight as the narrator, rather than recounting how it was revealed to him by God. Again, THIS IS IMPORTANT. The essential point of hesychasm is to come close to God by allowing God to reveal Himself to the hesychast. This is a gift and not a reward. One could work for 60 years and never receive it or for 6 months and gain a taste of it. The point is that hesychia is a revelation, not a discovery or an insight.

Following these same themes, the book skirts many of the most important statements about practising the Prayer in its translations of the Fathers' teachings. It also leaves out an appendix that included commentary by the original, unknown author on the Jesus Prayer teaching (this is included in the Savin version). Funny enough, Bacovcin and Czisek ascribe the authorship to an unknown peasant while all Orthodox sources ascribe it to one of the saints prevailing at the time.

In any case, in Bacovcin's translation, the notes on how to practise the Prayer by the Orthodox Fathers are summarised to the point of having little, if any value. In fact, that is where one of the biggest problems lies: THE BOOK DISTORTS THE TEACHING OF THE JESUS PRAYER BY MISSING THE SPIRIT OF THESE GUIDING WORDS.

Taken abstractly as a work of fiction, the Bacovcin translation is probably the better-flowing option (in comparison to the Savin translation) and that is why I give it two stars instead of one. However, taken within its intended context as a story of someone seeking the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and finding them, this book is dangerous.
 
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Offline St.Justin

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Re: The Jesus Prayer
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2020, 05:22:46 PM »
Curious as to who wrote this review as he /she seems to have missed the whole emphasis of this work.
For me it is just one persons search to keep God in his life and the daily struggles we go through.

The Jesus Prayer is nothing more or less than many of the Ejaculations used in both the Orthodox and Catholic prayer life.

Immaculate Heart of Mary pray for us.
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world pray for us. etc.

Most all Litanies are made of these type of prayers.

There seems to be people who see evil in everything and everywhere.

Lord Jesus have mercy on us  sinners
 

Offline GiftOfGod

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Re: The Jesus Prayer
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2020, 11:16:23 PM »
Curious as to who wrote this review as he /she seems to have missed the whole emphasis of this work.
For me it is just one persons search to keep God in his life and the daily struggles we go through.

The Jesus Prayer is nothing more or less than many of the Ejaculations used in both the Orthodox and Catholic prayer life.

Immaculate Heart of Mary pray for us.
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world pray for us. etc.

Most all Litanies are made of these type of prayers.

There seems to be people who see evil in everything and everywhere.

Lord Jesus have mercy on us  sinners

Can you really compare traditional Catholic devotions with an "Orthodox" prayer?
 

Offline abc123

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Re: The Jesus Prayer
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2020, 06:03:48 AM »
The issue with the Prayer of the Heart from a Catholic perspective is not in the words of the prayer itself but in the underpinning theology of the practice. As GoG pointed out, the practice of this prayer is bound up with hesychysm/Palamism in an attempt to experience the Uncreated Light of Tabor.

For your common layman it seems an edifying point of meditation to focus upon our need for mercy. For the monk who practices this prayer in search of religious experience it seems to have a bit too much in common with certain Eastern mystical mediation practices.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2020, 06:06:14 AM by abc123 »
"I once laboured hard for the free will of man until the grace of God at length overcame me."- St. Augustine
 

Offline nmoerbeek

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Re: The Jesus Prayer
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2020, 10:37:50 AM »
Is it acceptable for a traditional Roman Rite Catholic to recite the Jesus Prayer?

Yes, the practice of the Jesus Prayer changed my life.  It was recommended to me by a Monastic Priest who only says the the Traditional Mass.  There are many books on the subject that I would not recommend as they can contain those elements that other posters have warned about.  I would recommend the following books if you wish to learn more about it

This is a Pre Vatican II Catholic book on the subject:

This is a History of the Jesus Prayer written by a Priest and Patristic Scholar around the time of St. Pius X.  If you read this first it will help you put into context many of the other things you may read about the Jesus prayer when learning the spirituality around it.
The Name of Jesus
https://www.amazon.com/Name-Jesus-Cistercian-Studies/dp/0879079444

The Invocation of the Name of Jesus: As Practiced in the Western Church
https://www.amazon.com/Invocation-Name-Jesus-Practiced-Western/dp/1887752269/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+invocation+of+the+name+of+jesus&qid=1608824083&s=books&sr=1-1

This is a compilation of Western Saints and Pious authors through the ages on repeating the name of Jesus (and Mary) it is written by Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary (SSPX)

"Let me, however, beg of Your Beatitude...
not to think so much of what I have written, as of my good and kind intentions. Please look for the truths of which I speak rather than for beauty of expression. Where I do not come up to your expectations, pardon me, and put my shortcomings down, please, to lack of time and stress of business." St. Bonaventure, From the Preface of Holiness of Life.

Apostolate:
http://www.alleluiaaudiobooks.com/
Contributor:
http://unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.com/
Lay Association:
http://www.militiatempli.net/
 
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