Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Lecture Notes 6: Pray Without Ceasing; Prayer as Answer to Secularism - Metropolitan Kallistos
Our Orthodox Response to Secularism, Part Two: Pray Without Ceasing
How we respond personally to the challenge of secularism.
I. A Map of the Spiritual Way in the Orthodox Tradition (noted in Origin, Evagrius, Maximos, and others).
A. Praktaki (Praxis): As the Fathers use the term, not external activity or vocation, but the struggle to acquire internal virtue and subdue passions; this begins with repentance (metanoia) and ends with apatheia - not apathy, nor the denial of feelings, but freedom the rule of passions in order to enjoy a new dynamic for life: “The fire of passionlessness”.
B. Physiki: The Contemplation of Nature, seeing God in all things and all things in God. One *might* employ a term like panentheism for this notion (not pantheism, all things God and God all things, losing the Creator-creature distinction, but rather the presence of God in the creation and the life of creation in God and dependent on God. “See Christ everywhere, and rejoice in him” - Schmeman (Pan-Christification)
C. Theologia: The vision of God. Not theological study in the academic sense. Physiki is to apprehend God in his works, but theologia is to encounter God directly, above language, image, or intellectual concepts.
* These are not ‘stages’ - one discarded when mastered so that the disciple moves on to the next. No, rather different mysteries into which one goes more deeply, all three together. The life of contemplation begins with the second.
II. Physiki as Response to Secularism
A. We don’t live in the world as if there is no God, but in the world finding God everywhere:
* Herbert’s ‘The Elixir’:
Teach me, my God and King,
In all things thee to see,
And what I do in any thing,
To do it as for thee:
Not rudely, as a beast,
To runne into an action;
But still to make thee prepossest,
And give it his perfection.
A man that looks on glasse,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it passe,
And then the heav’n espie.
All may of thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture (for thy sake)
Will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause
Makes drudgerie divine:
Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
Makes that and th’ action fine.
This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold:
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for lesse be told.
B. Nature as God’s Book: Psalm 19
“Love the trees; he who does not love the tree does not love Christ.”
Or God's Grandeur, by Hopkins:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
- Maximos - The world finds it origins in Christ and it is to Christ that all will return. ‘from him and through him and to him are all things...’: Logos and Logoi
- Palamas: Divine Energies (distinguished from his essence): God permeating the creation, everywhere present and filling all things. Without the presence of the Creator in everything and anything, the thing would collapse and cease to exist.
- In him we live and move and have our being
- He upholds all things by the word of his power
- In him all things hold together
III. The Jesus Prayer as Physiki and Response to Secularism
A. Two Kinds of Prayer Usage
Fixed - Making the Jesus Prayer part of our regular prayer life
Free - To Unite the Jesus Prayer with our everyday activities.
B. “Create Silence” - Kierkegaard. We live in a loud and boisterous age and we stand in desperate need of silence.
The constant repetition of the same simple words leads us to interior silence
This counters the endless multiplication of words and the cheapening of words
* Von Huegel - “Man is what he does with his silence”
* Silence is not a void but a fullness and allows us to note the presence of the Other. Silence is a presence and in its midst is God. Psalm 46 - “Be still and know that I am God.” Silence allows listening and thus relating.
- Free use: walking about, counseling, committee meetings, in pain, despair, and so on. This kind of praying unites work and prayer time. It makes our work prayer.
- “Pray without ceasing...” - 1 Thessalonians 5
- “Not people who say prayers from time to time, but who are prayer.”
IV. Prayer, Encounter, and Facing the Secular Challenge - Moses at the Burning Bush
“Take off your shoes.”
To pray is to stand before and in the presence of God to encounter his holy presence around us and his holy earth beneath us. All of creation is his and all of Him is given in Christ to his creation.