Author Topic: Mental Imagery in Orthodox Prayer  (Read 1436 times)

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Offline Irish Hermit

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Mental Imagery in Orthodox Prayer
« on: March 04, 2010, 06:46:54 AM »
I think that this is an outstanding presentation on the question of mental imagery in prayer in eastern spirituality and it should prove very useful for conveying the Orthodox position to Roman Catholic converts on this point, the most frequent question being "What is wrong with the mental images formed when meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary?".

Fr Ambrose
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Mental Imagery in Eastern Orthodox Private Devotion

http://frsergei.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/mental-imagery-in-eastern-orthodox-private-devotion/
 
Posted in Theology by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 1 March 2010

Offline Mickey

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Re: Mental Imagery in Orthodox Prayer
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2010, 12:46:07 PM »
I think that this is an outstanding presentation on the question of mental imagery in prayer in eastern spirituality and it should prove very useful for conveying the Orthodox position to Roman Catholic converts on this point, the most frequent question being "What is wrong with the mental images formed when meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary?".

Fr Ambrose

Bless Father,

This is a wonderful article regarding imaginations during prayer and how it can lead to prelest.

Thank you.

Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Mental Imagery in Orthodox Prayer
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2010, 01:27:36 PM »
"In the context of forbidding attitude of the Eastern Fathers toward mental images, it seems necessary to briefly mention elaborate and very imaginative Orthodox iconography.[5]  Icons in the Orthodox Tradition are used for prayer, meditation, and contemplation.  Yet, even during prayer before icons, which obviously present visual imagery, the use of mental imagery, according to the Orthodox Tradition, is to be avoided.  St. Ignatii (Bryanchaninov) writes:

    The holy icons are accepted by the Holy Church for the purpose of arousing pious memories and feelings, but not at all for arousing imagination.  Standing before an icon of the Savior, stand as if before the Lord Jesus Christ himself, Who is invisibly everywhere present and by His icon is in that place, where the icon is; standing before an icon of the Mother of God, stand as if before the Most-Holy Virgin Herself; but keep your mind without images: there is a great difference between being in the presence of the Lord or standing before the Lord and imagining the Lord. (Works 2004, 1:76)

The specific canons and stylistic rules which guide the writing of an Orthodox icon, therefore, as well as the proper training of the mind, may be seen as the means to achieve the goal formulated above by St. Ignatii—the real presence before the Lord, rather than to express or influence visual imagination."
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Father,  

 Thanks for this great article.  I've always been curious about this subject.  With the holy icons constantly surrounding the Orthodox Christian, how can I pray without sometimes conjuring up these images?  Fr. Sergei, in the above quoted section of his article, addresses this subject and seems to suggest a difference between mental imagery and visual imagery where he explains mental imagery is actually seeking to see the Lord, our holy mother or His saints while we are praying, while visual imagery is simply praying before the holy icons.  This was very helpful because, to me, I would have simply assumed mental and visual were the same things.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2010, 01:28:59 PM by GabrieltheCelt »
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