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Author Topic: Prayer rope v. liturgical prayer  (Read 2675 times) Average Rating: 0
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Mor Ephrem
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« on: July 07, 2004, 10:55:28 AM »

In a thread I started here yesterday, icxn posted the following story:

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An ascetic used to send his disciple in obedience to Karyes to sell his crafts. There in the Protaton the monk heard beautiful chanting. One day he said to his elder, “Geronda, I have been thinking. We here in the desert are not doing anything. You should see how they praise God there with chanting, choirs and so many other things. Here the only thing we are doing is praying ‘Lord have mercy’ with the prayer rope.”

The next day his elder said to him, “Let us go, my son, to see what those fathers are doing there so that we might learn their typikon.” When they entered the church he bent over and whispered in his ear, “Indeed, my son, here they praise GodGǪ”

He had not quite finished his sentence when a strong earthquake shook everything. Immediately the chanters put down the books, stopped the “terirems” and started praying with their prayer ropes “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, the sinners.”

“Geronda, let us go; let us continue our work in our quiet environment in the hut,” said the disciple. “Whatever we are doing is above chanting music.” They realized that the best way to pray is with the prayer rope.

- An Athonite Gerontikon

This is not the first time I've heard this sentiment (that the best way to pray is by using the prayer rope) from monastics.  I would've presumed that liturgical prayer was the "best".  Why is it that the prayer rope is held in higher esteem than liturgical prayer?
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icxn
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2004, 09:08:36 AM »

From what I 've read, the short answer is that there is nothing more powerful than the Jesus Prayer in order to purify our heart and there is nothing else more pleasing to God than a pure heart.

icxn

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There is no other manner of purification and sanctification than noetic prayer. This filled paradise with Holy people... A person can be raised up above the earth by two wings, one is simplicity and the other is purity of heart. You must be simple in your actions and pure in your thoughts and feelings. With a pure heart you'll seek God and with simplicity you'll find Him and be glad. A pure heart passes through Heavens gate with ease. - Elder Amphilochios of Patmos +1970

If we want to ask a favor of any person of power, we presume not to approach but with humility and respect. How much more ought we to address ourselves to the Lord and God of all things with a humble and entire devotion? We are not to imagine that our prayers shall be heard because we use many words, but because the heart is pure and the spirit penitent. Therefore prayer must be short and pure, unless it be prolonged by a feeling of divine inspiration. Prayer in common ought always to be short, and when the sign is given by the abbot, all should rise together. - St. Benedict, Rule 20

Source:

1.  http://www.orthodox.net/gleanings/purity.html
2.  http://www.orthodox.net/gleanings/jesus_prayer.html
« Last Edit: July 08, 2004, 09:50:24 AM by icxn » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2004, 07:23:06 PM »

The above reminds me a story told of a small monastery were the monks were pious but their chanting was not a musical extravaganza. The igumen was sick. A visitor was a reputation for the beauty of his chanting was visiting and the monks invited him to chant at vespers.

But later that evening the igumen received an angelic visitation and, rising from his sick bed, summoned the community to go to the church to chant the Vespers, much to the confusion of the community.

The apparent beauty of the visitor chanting was not God pleasing. The lesson being Our Lord discerns things differently..........

May be it is not whether one form is better than another but some other factor may come into play, each having something - in the case of liturgical services an instructive and teaching element. At more than one monastery I have seen both forms used.
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2004, 12:47:59 PM »

I know that I've read in at least one father, though I can't remember where, that the prayer said noetically with a pure heart lives the entire liturgy noetically.  In other words, noetic prayer is a continual Divine Liturgy.  Even these fathers continued to say Divine Liturgy, because the Eucharist is of the highest importance, but as regards the other services, well, if you have the Divine Liturgy continuously in your heart, why interrupt it?
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2004, 01:42:23 PM »

Liturgical > devotional.

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I know that I've read in at least one father, though I can't remember where, that the prayer said noetically with a pure heart lives the entire liturgy noetically.  In other words, noetic prayer is a continual Divine Liturgy.  Even these fathers continued to say Divine Liturgy, because the Eucharist is of the highest importance, but as regards the other services, well, if you have the Divine Liturgy continuously in your heart, why interrupt it?

Nice idea but it rings an alarm bell historically. Wasn't the 'name-worshipping' heresy that swept through Mount Athos around the turn of the last century like this? (Source: Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky)'s book on Confession.) IIRC this was a kind of Quietism that said all a monk needed to do was pray the Jesus Prayer - no office, etc.
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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2004, 02:57:18 PM »

I guess I should have clarified above that I kind of agree of with Serge--sometimes I go into lawyer mode and present an argument without giving my own thoughts or commentary! Wink  While there is some argument in favor of saying the Jesus Prayer instead of the Offices, it seems to go contrary to much of liturgical theology and practice.  IMHO the best is probably to do as St. Seraphim of Sarov encourages, and pray the Jesus Prayer unceasingly while still celebrating the Common Offices of the Church.

I have seen, I believe Russian, monastic practice where there is a set number of prayer ropes of Jesus Prayers and "Most Holy Theotokos, Save us" for each of the various Offices.  I'd be interested if someone knows if there were monasteries where this was the rule, or if as in the Latin Rule of Francis of Assisi, this was a stand-in for those away from the monastery and/or illiterate.

I've been looking to get the book you mention, Serge, I guess I'll just have to do so.

Justin
« Last Edit: July 20, 2004, 02:58:46 PM by iustinos » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2004, 03:08:14 PM »

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IMHO the best is probably to do as St. Seraphim of Sarov encourages, and pray the Jesus Prayer unceasingly while still celebrating the Common Offices of the Church.

Sounds good to me.

Quote
I have seen, I believe Russian, monastic practice where there is a set number of prayer ropes of Jesus Prayers and "Most Holy Theotokos, Save us" for each of the various Offices.  I'd be interested if someone knows if there were monasteries where this was the rule, or if as in the Latin Rule of Francis of Assisi, this was a stand-in for those away from the monastery and/or illiterate.

I've seen that too - it's in the back of the Russian Old Believer prayer book ROCOR prints.

I'm fairly sure it's meant as a stand-in for those who can't do the offices, not a substitute meant for everyone.
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2004, 03:29:49 PM »

I can only speak to this from an Anglican perspective, but I think the considerations involved apply to all of us.

The short answer is that offices and (e.g.) the prayer rope shouldn't be competing. The former are corporate prayer; the latter, private. One should not be neglected to the advantage of the other.

Anglicanism definitely discourages the practice of private devotions during the liturgy (including offices). I have heard it said that this was a very common abuse in pre-Vat. 2 RC days. From our perspective corporate prayer requires participation and attention. (We also think that private devotions said in groups are a bit wierd.)

As far as what private devotions are to be used, I'm really not interested in what tone-deaf monastics have to say about my singing. I don't mean to denegrate their practice, but simply to say that the praying of musicians and singers is something that the nonmusical tend not to understand.
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« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2004, 03:32:18 PM »

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The short answer is that offices and (e.g.) the prayer rope shouldn't be competing. The former are corporate prayer; the latter, private. One should not be neglected to the advantage of the other.

Anglicanism definitely discourages the practice of private devotions during the liturgy (including offices). I have heard it said that this was a very common abuse in pre-Vat. 2 RC days. From our perspective corporate prayer requires participation and attention. (We also think that private devotions said in groups are a bit weird.)

A punto.
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« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2004, 08:34:36 PM »

I have seen, I believe Russian, monastic practice where there is a set number of prayer ropes of Jesus Prayers and "Most Holy Theotokos, Save us" for each of the various Offices.

Duh da daaaaa!  Old Believer's Prayer Book to the rescue!  (And no, I'm not an Old Believer; I just like the translations of the office and canons.)

Well.  This would be a long post if I tried to post the whole table, so I'll just post the numbers for the Jesus Prayer for the Office:

Vespers: 600 prayers
Great Compline: 700 prayers
Small or Middle Compline: 400 prayers
Nocturn: 600 prayers
Matins: 1500 prayers
1st, 3rd, 6th, and 9th Hours: 1000 prayers total
Hours with the Interhours: 1500 prayers.

That's quite a few prayers, and they also list the numbers for praying with bows during the Jesus Prayer and with the Psalter.  Plus, the prayer rope is quite different from the typical knotted or beaded one.  I could quote from the Prayer Book, but I'm feeling lazy at the moment, so if anyone shows any interest, I'll pop back on and do that.  Peace.

Josh
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