Dear friends of Jesus’ prayer,
I begin my epistolary relationship with you by dealing with an incessant process, a constant dialogue, a permanent oscillation. It is our wandering mind that moves like a leaf blown by the wind. It is necessary to become aware of the state of our mind, how it tricks us, how enslaved we are by its ups and downs.
The movement of the body’s moods is reflected in it. For each digestive process, respiratory rhythm, state of the organs, each muscular tension, there is an inmediate mental agitation without us noticing it. It is what we usually call thoughts. But it would be more accurate to speak of ramblings, because thought is something organized and the outcome of intention.
A keen observation shows us that sensible thoughts are rare and that, in general, they are formed on the basis of cravings binding us to different kinds of appetites. Jesus’ prayer is a long and deep path that nevertheless does not take long to show its effects. But to do so, it is necessary to be clear as to what the first objective is: to replace ramblings with prayer.
Although it may not seem so, that permanent background chatter that constitutes the internal dialogues, can be silenced in not much time through the repetition of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ. After prayer has become a habit of the mind, it will be time for new stages of deepening, worship, silence and contemplation.
But to acquire this holy habit it is necessary to make the inner act of renunciation to mental chatter. Silence of the mouth is useful as long as it results from mental silence. Otherwise, he who is silent outside, shouts inside.
There are those who believe that Jesus’ prayer, also called “prayer of the heart”, is a method with regard to the meaning of “way”, and it is not wrong to think so. But those who practice it assiduously and over a long period of time have been convinced that it is much more. It is a way of living in the Presence of the Lord and it comes to modify the life of the practitioner from its very root. Those who go into it cannot go back. It is necessary to do some reflection before adopting it for oneself, since it produces an increasing depth in one’s own consciousness, in such a way that to know oneself as something small, in extreme need of divine help and prey to innumerable weaknesses, becomes evident.
From the point of view of the psyche, the one that embraces this prayer has to part with thoughts. The main difficulty is not to get used to prayer but to reject the thoughts. This is because we usually identify this flow of the mind with ourselves. This is not so, but it takes a while to realize it. We are not that which speaks at every moment, I am not the one who thinks this or that; I am not that opinion or that judgment or belief about that other person or what is beyond.
One comes to discover by one’s own experience and not by sayings or readings, that Christ dwells in the heart as a continuous altar lamp. And in the light of that beautiful radiance the very face of the sincere seeker who chose His Name as a tool, flag and object of devotion will come to be revealed. Those who are very attached to their thoughts should not begin this path. Nor should anyone who is satisfied with their spiritual life. It is for those who have not yet found God, for those who do not feel satisfied with their progress, for those who sometimes feel that they fail continuously in everything they undertake. And not because things go wrong for them in the world necessarily but because they do not feel complete in any activity.
The Lord calls us through different ways and all of them are suitable for different persons. To this path one also has to be called. This call usually manifests as an inclination of the heart towards simplicity, as a desire for silence and absence of complications. Also as a growing love for the person of Jesus Christ and a deep admiration for him. Therefore, the first thing is to accustom the mind to prayer. There are those who take paper and pencil and write it down as it used to be written in schools, to repeat the writing of a sentence. Some people go out for a walk and carry it on their steps as if accompanying the pace. Others pronounce it with their mouths whenever they can and even sing it. I have also seen those who sit quietly looking for the slow exhalation of the Name.
In general, some things can serve everyone:
– Upon wakening up, when you are barely aware of the start of a new day, pronounce the prayer of Jesus, once and many times, calmly, with your mouth or your mind, while you are getting dressed and preparing yourself for the day.
– Repeat it in every moment of solitude or when you pause in the midst of the frenzy of daily life. Whether you are in an elevator, waiting for the public transport or simply going to the bathroom.
– Appeal to it every time you find yourself restless, distressed or out of focus. Say the chosen phrase with depth of feeling.
– When you go to bed, while you get undressed, as you wrap yourself up in bed, entering into the restful sleep, trust in the mercy of the One whom we name.
Regarding the phrase in Jesus’ prayer
The ejaculatory prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, sinner” besides being the traditional form, offers a benefit that we will discuss later. There are those who replace the word “piety” by “mercy”, understanding by this that they call on the approach of the Lord to their own heart in a better way.
The prayer to be used can be shortened without any problem according to the feeling that the praying person perceives as more appropriate. Even many come to pronounce only “Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ!, as a way of constant adoration. Let us be careful to say it with feeling, emphasizing with emotion the words, whether mental or vocal. But let’s not be discouraged if we say it without having considered it or even not being totally aware of it at some point.
What matters is that it is sculpted throughout the inner temple and automatically will remind us that we were saying it without feeling it. But it is better to repeat His Name without being conscious of it, than to wander with the same unconsciousness around any wind. At some other moment we will deal with the revealed mystery that the same Name brings the presence of the One who is named.
I greet you by calling on Jesus Christ, the source of all mercies.