Thursday, September 3, 2009

The gift of Russian spiritual practice

I just had to show you a sample of some amazing 100 year old color photos the story of which is truly fascinating. Here's a description of the church pictured above:
Russian churches featured exterior and interior decoration in the forms of mosaics, frescoes, and carvings, often in brilliant colors. The Church of the Resurrection in Kostroma in the northern part of European Russia was built in the 1650s and demonstrates the exuberant decoration of the exterior characteristic of its period. However, in spite of the dramatic exterior, the church is noted primarily for its interior wall paintings.

Amazingly enough, this picture was taken in 1910.

You can see the entire exhibit right here.

Now let me share with you something for your contemplation that comes from the Russian Orthodox tradition:

The Jesus Prayer is also called the Prayer of the Heart. In Orthodoxy, the mind and heart are to be used as one. St Theophan tells us to keep our "mind in the heart" at all times. Heart means the physical muscle pumping blood, and emotions/feelings, and the innermost core of the person, the spirit. Heart is associated with the physical organ, but not identical with it. Heart means our innermost chamber, our secret dwelling place where God lives.
Someone said the heart is a dimension of interior consciousness, awareness, where we come in touch with an inner space, a space of no dimensions. This consciousness is timeless, the place where tears reside and deep contact with the present moment abide, and from which restful movement comes. Acting out of our heart means to act lightly, with vigor and enthusiasm. When not in that inner awareness, we are restless, agitated and self-concerned.

There is within us a space, a field of the heart, in which we find a Divine Reality, and from which we are called to live. The mind, then, is to descend into that inner sanctuary, by means of the Jesus Prayer or wordless contemplation, and to stay there throughout our active day, and evening. We descend with our mind into our heart, and we live there.
The excerpt above is from an article entitled "Saying the Jesus Prayer" by Albert S Rossi.

There are several forms of the Jesus Prayer. The one I typically use is this: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me."

No comments:

Post a Comment

New policy: Anonymous posts must be signed or they will be deleted. Pick a name, any name (it could be Paperclip or Doorknob), but identify yourself in some way. Thank you.