• On Hesychasm


  • The Jesus Prayer in Platina


  • The Use of the “Optina 500”


  • No Prayer without Love and the Controlled Passions

On Hesychasm

Observing Fr. Seraphim's silent contemplation, Fr. Herman would tell him half-joking, “You're a hesychast!” - meaning a “silent one” engaged in direct contemplation of Divinity. Fr. Seraphim, however, did not like this term applied to himself. He even became indignant, saying, “I don't know what that means.” Of course he knew intellectually, but he did not want to pretend to understand it from experience. He detested posing and fakery of any kind. For him, spiritual life had to be first of all down to earth, filled with humility and sober awareness of one's low spiritual state. In his younger days he had written: “He who thinks himself self-sufficient is in the snare of the devil; such a man who thinks further that he is 'spiritual,' has become almost an active accomplice of the devil, whether he realizes it or not.” (p. 449)


The Jesus Prayer in Platina

Outside the Church services, Fr. Seraphim would strive to remember God by saying the Jesus Prayer throughout the day, whether while working, resting, or taking a walk. The brothers were reminded to do likewise. From the very beginning of the skete's existence, Fathers Serphim and Herman had instituted the traditional monastic practice of saying the Jesus Prayer aloud whenever entering a room. This practice had been followed by the monks on ancient times in order to foil the tricks of the demons, who were know to enter the cells of desert-dwellers without warning. (p. 574)


The Use of the “Optina 500”

We have already mentioned that Fathers Seraphim and Herman, in the tradition of Bishop Nektary, carried out the private “ Optina Five-Hundred” cell-rule of prayer in addition to the regular Church services. This consisted of: 300 Jesus Prayers, 100 prayers to the Mother of God, 50 to one's Guardian Angel, and 50 to All Saints. (p. 574)


No Prayer without Love and the Controlled Passions

“In San Francisco there was a person who got on fire with the idea of the Jesus Prayer. He began adding prayer to prayer, and he finally came to, in the morning, 5,000. Right in the middle of the world, in the middle of the city, in the morning, before doing anything else, before eating, he was able to say 5,000 Jesus Prayers on the balcony, and he felt wonderfully refreshed and inspired. Then it happened one morning that somebody else came out right underneath the balcony and began busying himself and doing something while this person was saying his last thousand; and it so happened that this person was so put out by this that he ended up throwing dishes at him! How can you deal with a person occupying himself with the spiritual life, with the Jesus Prayer, when all of a sudden, while he is saying it, he is able to start throwing dishes? This means that inside of him the passions were free, because he had some kind of deceived idea or opinion that he knew what was right for him spiritually. He acted according to knowledge; and when the opportunity came, the passions came out. In this case it is more profitable not to say those 5,000 Jesus Prayers, but to do something else that is spiritual.” (p. 598)



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