Author Topic: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.  (Read 2083 times)

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Offline Xavier

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The Holy Rosary is the crown of all prayers, outside of Holy Mass. The Pater Noster is the best of prayers, is taught to us by the Lord Himself, and is the Son speaking to His Father. The Ave Maria or Angelic Salutation recalls the mysteries of the Annunciation, Visitation and Incarnation in itself; how the Holy Spirit sent His Angel to greet His Immaculate Bride and ask for Her fiat, for the human race to be saved; no human tongue can compose a more sacred prayer or one more pleasing to the dear Mother of God. He who says the Our Father and Hail Mary often will be saved. Finally, the Gloria Patri is a beautiful doxology of the Church singing to the Holy Trinity. Innumerable miracles have been worked through the Holy Rosary, not least the defeat of the invading Islamist Turks in Lepanto, 1571, after which the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was set up; and several countries were freed from Communist agents by the power of the Holy Rosary.

It seems some Orthodox object to this prayer on the grounds that meditating on the mysteries is at the heart of it. Can anyone explain to me that objection? Don't we all meditste on the mysteries of the Passion during the prayers of the Liturgy? Why is meditation and contemplation deemed to be bad?
"My daughter, look at My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console Me, and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months go to confession and receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary and keep Me company for a quarter of an hour" - The Theotokos to Sr. Lucia.

Offline Rohzek

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2018, 12:37:20 PM »
As far as I am aware, the biggest Orthodox objection is that the meditation on the mysteries when praying the rosary involves a heterodox usage of the imagination. I myself have never understood this argument nor have I liked it at all. As a former Catholic, I look fondly on the rosary and have on occasion used it since my conversion. Having read a number of early exegeses on Revelations, I do question the certainty of the Marian interpretations ascribed to Revelations 12:1, but that is a personal quibble, not a serious dogmatic one.
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2018, 01:00:38 PM »
One thing I don't understand about the criticism of using imagination with such things is why that is considered worse than what happens with icons. It is acknowledged that icons have traditionally had a place in helping teach the faith to illiterate people and young people, but does anyone think that such people learning from icons don't use their imaginations to 'fill in the blanks' or fill out the story' as they try to understand the meaning of it? Especially since the theologically super-literate do similar imaginings, though it's often dressed up as "meditating on" or "discerning." The same could be said for the holy books. Are such things different from prayer in some way that matters here, that I am not yet grasping?

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2018, 01:35:32 PM »
The Holy Rosary is the crown of all prayers, outside of Holy Mass. The Pater Noster is the best of prayers, is taught to us by the Lord Himself, and is the Son speaking to His Father. The Ave Maria or Angelic Salutation recalls the mysteries of the Annunciation, Visitation and Incarnation in itself; how the Holy Spirit sent His Angel to greet His Immaculate Bride and ask for Her fiat, for the human race to be saved; no human tongue can compose a more sacred prayer or one more pleasing to the dear Mother of God. He who says the Our Father and Hail Mary often will be saved. Finally, the Gloria Patri is a beautiful doxology of the Church singing to the Holy Trinity. Innumerable miracles have been worked through the Holy Rosary, not least the defeat of the invading Islamist Turks in Lepanto, 1571, after which the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was set up; and several countries were freed from Communist agents by the power of the Holy Rosary.

Rosary is an Orthodox prayer: https://orthodoxwiki.org/Rosary (I know that orthodoxwiki may be not the best source, but at least it's in English)

It seems some Orthodox object to this prayer on the grounds that meditating on the mysteries is at the heart of it. Can anyone explain to me that objection?
Not exactly meditation, but imagination, that Rohzek has said about. Using imagination during prayers it's an easy way to fall into prided and to be deceived by devils. I have some quotations of st. Nil the Synaite, st. Symeon and st. Gregory the Synaite, but they're in Polish.

Don't we all meditste on the mysteries of the Passion during the prayers of the Liturgy? Why is meditation and contemplation deemed to be bad?
Divine Liturgy is making present and reall the whole History of Salvation: what has happened, what's happening and what's going to happen, and its centre is not Passion, but Pascha (Christ's Resurrection).

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Offline LivenotoneviL

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2018, 03:30:08 PM »
I'll quote myself from another thread without my polemics and explaining what I understand the problem to be.

"Our entire human nature is fallen, corrupted - even our own reason is corrupted; rationally, we should never sin - however, we do anyway, because our own emotions and physical urges - "the flesh" if you will - prevents us from living in a Godly, non-animalistic way.

Our imagination is corrupted too - after all, for us humans, impure images constantly assault our imaginations; and our own feeble desires force us to think about things that are not important....

One of the purposes of "icons" for us is to, in addition to creating a pure, undefiled, and objective picture of who Christ was (as taught by the Church) and His Saints, it also allows us to use imagery while talking with God.

Have you ever been able to pray a Rosary while fully thinking about the words that you are saying, and fully imagining the scenery there? I sure haven't in my years in Catholicism. The former is legitimate prayer; the latter is adoration of your own mental capacities.... you can use images and talk with God simultaneously....

This Tradition of suppressing the imagination goes back to Saint John Climacus, who forbade the imaginative focus lest someone may be deluded, and goes back even further to Saint Anthony of Egypt, who commanded sternly that you should not desire to see Christ or desire to see the Angels, lest you succumb to demonic tricks.

Iconography in the Church goes back from now to the 15th century, to the 14th, to the 13th, to the 12th....to the 6th, to the 5th, to the 4th, to the 3rd, to the 1st centuries, and is a visual representation of Holy Tradition, with themes and images that organically represent the source; as well as images filled with theological symbolism (the fact that they are motionless and emotionless, with no movement and usually two dimensional represents the Saints being outside Time and Space), they serve as a focal point of prayer and guidance in knowing who Christ really is...."


The only problem with the Rosary is the use of the imagination - and of course, the Nicene Creed with the Filioque (of course, debatable if understood correctly). If anybody remembers, the Rosary without the imagination was vitally important when it came to fighting lust for me (I need to get back on it to making it a part of my prayer rule; I got approval from my Priest).
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 03:36:20 PM by LivenotoneviL »
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2018, 03:45:11 PM »
But what if the Jesus you imagine looks exactly like the Jesus of the icons?
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2018, 03:48:39 PM »
Could someone explain why visualizing scenes from scripture during the rosary is more harmful than visualizing them while reading scripture, or hearing scripture and hymns in church services?
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2018, 03:51:40 PM »
Could someone explain why visualizing scenes from scripture during the rosary is more harmful than visualizing them while reading scripture, or hearing scripture and hymns in church services?

I think LnoL's point was that human beings can't help doing it to an extent, but the problem is when we embrace it as a good thing to be actively pursued (in any context).
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Offline LivenotoneviL

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2018, 04:13:38 PM »
Could someone explain why visualizing scenes from scripture during the rosary is more harmful than visualizing them while reading scripture, or hearing scripture and hymns in church services?

I think LnoL's point was that human beings can't help doing it to an extent, but the problem is when we embrace it as a good thing to be actively pursued (in any context).

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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2018, 04:14:37 PM »
Sad!

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2018, 04:39:26 PM »
It's not a matter of "can't help it," we are encouraged to do it. The hymns and texts of the church are full of images which must play in the mind to understand them. And the physical presence of painted icons does nothing to curtail imagination, only shape it. So if the question is, is the imagination being sufficiently guided, it seems to me the meditations of the rosary are a very structured way of meditating on some pretty basic and set images of sacred history.

One of the points Saint John of Damascus made in defending icons was the fact that we necessarily form mental images from reading scripture.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2018, 04:43:08 PM »
It's not a matter of "can't help it," we are encouraged to do it. The hymns and texts of the church are full of images which must play in the mind to understand them. And the physical presence of painted icons does nothing to curtail imagination, only shape it. So if the question is, is the imagination being sufficiently guided, it seems to me the meditations of the rosary are a very structured way of meditating on some pretty basic and set images of sacred history.

One of the points Saint John of Damascus made in defending icons was the fact that we necessarily form mental images from reading scripture.

This is a very interesting perspective.  Have you found any articles on the Net on this theme, which we might call a sort of “psycho-iconoclasm”?
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Offline LivenotoneviL

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2018, 05:00:08 PM »
It's not a matter of "can't help it," we are encouraged to do it. The hymns and texts of the church are full of images which must play in the mind to understand them. And the physical presence of painted icons does nothing to curtail imagination, only shape it. So if the question is, is the imagination being sufficiently guided, it seems to me the meditations of the rosary are a very structured way of meditating on some pretty basic and set images of sacred history.

One of the points Saint John of Damascus made in defending icons was the fact that we necessarily form mental images from reading scripture.

This is a very interesting perspective.  Have you found any articles on the Net on this theme, which we might call a sort of “psycho-iconoclasm”?

I would say that this is blasphemy against Saint John Climacus, Saint Ignatius Bryanchaniov, Saint Symeon the New Theologian, and Saint Gregory the Sinaite, insinuating that they are iconoclasts.

I am certainly flawed in who I am in many things, and can often be fringe in many things, but without a doubt you are incorrect on this topic.

Coming from a Catholic background, this was a vital topic of discussion in my catechesis at several points and talking about the Rosary with my Father Confessor - in addition to research on this very topic.

I know you're Oriental Orthodox, but nonetheless your position is alien to authentic Orthodox spirituality.
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Offline LivenotoneviL

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2018, 05:02:49 PM »
What is coincidental was that this same point was made at a Catholic forum, to which I responded that your own mental landscaping aren't icons.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2018, 05:04:49 PM »
What is coincidental was that this same point was made at a Catholic forum, to which I responded that your own mental landscaping aren't icons.

Take it up with Saint John Damascene and, oh, the entire body of scripture and hymnography then.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2018, 05:05:06 PM »
It's not a matter of "can't help it," we are encouraged to do it. The hymns and texts of the church are full of images which must play in the mind to understand them. And the physical presence of painted icons does nothing to curtail imagination, only shape it. So if the question is, is the imagination being sufficiently guided, it seems to me the meditations of the rosary are a very structured way of meditating on some pretty basic and set images of sacred history.

One of the points Saint John of Damascus made in defending icons was the fact that we necessarily form mental images from reading scripture.

I think there is a sharp distinction between your brain reacting normally to descriptive words and going out of your way to concentrate on a mental painting that you created. Once again, see Volnutt's point.

Now tell me, is Saint John Damascene on the side of Living Tradition or a slave of the immaculate novelty?
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 05:06:25 PM by LivenotoneviL »
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2018, 05:17:03 PM »
It's not a matter of "can't help it," we are encouraged to do it. The hymns and texts of the church are full of images which must play in the mind to understand them. And the physical presence of painted icons does nothing to curtail imagination, only shape it. So if the question is, is the imagination being sufficiently guided, it seems to me the meditations of the rosary are a very structured way of meditating on some pretty basic and set images of sacred history.

One of the points Saint John of Damascus made in defending icons was the fact that we necessarily form mental images from reading scripture.

I think there is a sharp distinction between your brain reacting normally to descriptive words and going out of your way to concentrate on a mental painting that you created.

If you don't concentrate while reading scripture or hearing hymns, they're not going to do you much good. Try again.

Quote
Now tell me, is Saint John Damascene on the side of Living Tradition or a slave of the immaculate novelty?

Huh? Saint John Damascene is one of our great saints. Not sure why you would despise his thinking.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2018, 05:45:23 PM »
Quote
Now tell me, is Saint John Damascene on the side of Living Tradition or a slave of the immaculate novelty?

Huh? Saint John Damascene is one of our great saints. Not sure why you would despise his thinking.
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Offline Rohzek

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2018, 05:50:32 PM »
Could someone explain why visualizing scenes from scripture during the rosary is more harmful than visualizing them while reading scripture, or hearing scripture and hymns in church services?

Theodulf of Orleans can explain why meditation on texts is different from meditation on images. Just turn to his heterodox Opus Caroli regis contra synodum and follow along while he refutes the Second Council of Nicaea. I do find it eerie that the objections regarding the use of imagination so much resemble eighth-century iconophobe arguments. I also object to the idea that we cannot use a damaged imagination for the greater glory of God on account that it is damaged. In practice, such a belief is a profession of total depravity, which runs contrary to Orthodoxy.
"Il ne faut imaginer Dieu ni trop bon, ni méchant. La justice est entre l'excès de la clémence et la cruauté, ainsi que les peines finies sont entre l'impunité et les peines éternelles." - Denise Diderot, Pensées philosophiques 1746

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2018, 06:07:38 PM »
It's not a matter of "can't help it," we are encouraged to do it. The hymns and texts of the church are full of images which must play in the mind to understand them. And the physical presence of painted icons does nothing to curtail imagination, only shape it. So if the question is, is the imagination being sufficiently guided, it seems to me the meditations of the rosary are a very structured way of meditating on some pretty basic and set images of sacred history.

One of the points Saint John of Damascus made in defending icons was the fact that we necessarily form mental images from reading scripture.

I think there is a sharp distinction between your brain reacting normally to descriptive words and going out of your way to concentrate on a mental painting that you created.

If you don't concentrate while reading scripture or hearing hymns, they're not going to do you much good. Try again.

Quote
Now tell me, is Saint John Damascene on the side of Living Tradition or a slave of the immaculate novelty?

Huh? Saint John Damascene is one of our great saints. Not sure why you would despise his thinking.

You both know dang well what I'm saying.
If Saint John of Damascus was alive today, would he tell you to imagine being Christ's Mother and focus on His suffering, or would He side with the rest of the Orthodox Spiritual Fathers?

Clearly, Saint John of Damascus was no modernistic innovator
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Offline Rohzek

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2018, 06:16:37 PM »
It's not a matter of "can't help it," we are encouraged to do it. The hymns and texts of the church are full of images which must play in the mind to understand them. And the physical presence of painted icons does nothing to curtail imagination, only shape it. So if the question is, is the imagination being sufficiently guided, it seems to me the meditations of the rosary are a very structured way of meditating on some pretty basic and set images of sacred history.

One of the points Saint John of Damascus made in defending icons was the fact that we necessarily form mental images from reading scripture.

I think there is a sharp distinction between your brain reacting normally to descriptive words and going out of your way to concentrate on a mental painting that you created.

If you don't concentrate while reading scripture or hearing hymns, they're not going to do you much good. Try again.

Quote
Now tell me, is Saint John Damascene on the side of Living Tradition or a slave of the immaculate novelty?

Huh? Saint John Damascene is one of our great saints. Not sure why you would despise his thinking.

You both know dang well what I'm saying.
If Saint John of Damascus was alive today, would he tell you to imagine being Christ's Mother and focus on His suffering, or would He side with the rest of the Orthodox Spiritual Fathers?

Clearly, Saint John of Damascus was no modernistic innovator

You heard him people. If you consider the feelings of the Theotokos, you're going to Hell.

But actually, no, I don't know what you are saying. I would hazard to guess though that your conversion to Orthodoxy is clouded by a reactionary sentiment against your old faith. Conversions should be more involved and deeper than that.
"Il ne faut imaginer Dieu ni trop bon, ni méchant. La justice est entre l'excès de la clémence et la cruauté, ainsi que les peines finies sont entre l'impunité et les peines éternelles." - Denise Diderot, Pensées philosophiques 1746

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2018, 06:17:01 PM »
Well, I for one was a little confused by your rhetorical question, LnoL.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #22 on: January 19, 2018, 06:18:19 PM »
It's not a matter of "can't help it," we are encouraged to do it. The hymns and texts of the church are full of images which must play in the mind to understand them. And the physical presence of painted icons does nothing to curtail imagination, only shape it. So if the question is, is the imagination being sufficiently guided, it seems to me the meditations of the rosary are a very structured way of meditating on some pretty basic and set images of sacred history.

One of the points Saint John of Damascus made in defending icons was the fact that we necessarily form mental images from reading scripture.

Yeah, put that way, it is a bit of a sticky wicket...
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 06:18:39 PM by Volnutt »
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2018, 09:02:37 PM »
I'm confused. Why is it wrong to meditate on events from the life of Christ or the Mother of God when praying?

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #24 on: January 19, 2018, 09:31:19 PM »
I'm confused. Why is it wrong to meditate on events from the life of Christ or the Mother of God when praying?

I think the fear is that if you picture Christ or the Mother of God in your head too clearly or too often, you'll start to imagine that what you're "seeing" is actually some special insight into spiritual realities. This could then lead you to think that you're some kind of prophet or great mystic or the next Anne Catherine Emmerich or something which in turn might lead you to think that you have some special mission from God or connection to Him (or maybe, for example, that you have carte blanche to ignore anything that your priest might say because you're more "spiritual" than he is). There's quite a few horror stories from Mt. Athos about monks thinking they can physically see and talk to Christ, angels, etc. only for it to turn out that they were just being deceived by Satan (or mental illness).

This kind of spiritual delusion is often referred by the Greek word "plani" or the Russian "prelest."
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 09:32:24 PM by Volnutt »
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #25 on: January 19, 2018, 09:42:54 PM »
Picasso once said something like, "You can't be 100% abstract. There is always something."

The second someone tells you, "Don't think about polar bears," you think about polar bears.

I think it is impossible to keep the mind completely blank. Something's going to pop into it, sometime.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2018, 12:18:18 PM »
Well, I for one was a little confused by your rhetorical question, LnoL.

What I mean is that - even assuming the fact that Saint John of Damascus did support imaginative prayer (which is a debatable fact because the point he brings up doesn't even lend to the idea that we should create paintings in our head, and his monasticism would be based on the Desert Fathers, which is the basis of contemporary Orthodox spirituality - and Saint Anthony of Egypt condemned the desire of wanting to see Angels or Christ in your prayer), we have more than enough Saints who have repeatedly condemned such a proposition to the point that this shouldn't even be a question.

It's like asking "well, maybe a bishop with universal jurisdiction could work in Orthodox ecclesiology - after all, Saint Maximos really liked the Pope and recognized the fact that Rome is connected to Peter!", even though we have more than enough Saints who have repeatedly condemned such an idea - Saint John of Kronstadt is the one that comes to mind immediately, who called the Roman Catholics "headless," as they have the Pope as their head and not Christ.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2018, 12:22:47 PM by LivenotoneviL »
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #27 on: January 20, 2018, 12:38:11 PM »

You heard him people. If you consider the feelings of the Theotokos, you're going to Hell.

But actually, no, I don't know what you are saying. I would hazard to guess though that your conversion to Orthodoxy is clouded by a reactionary sentiment against your old faith. Conversions should be more involved and deeper than that.

My only ill will towards the Roman Catholic Church is me dealing with Modernism in that church, and how if you disagree with the modernists, they will socially demean you in a manner that the social Liberals in the West will. In fact, looking into traditional Christian ideas in my Roman Catholic education - in part - led me to a degree of spiritual stasis, and put me in such a dark place that I didn't even attend Church on Easter.

Like, for example - the Roman Catholic Church has taught "Outside the Church there is no Salvation" to a very strict extent that not even the Orthodox would say is correct - Pope Pius IX said it was heretical to believe that one could hope there was salvation for non-members of the Roman Catholic Church.

However, there was clearly a shift from Vatican II onward (only an imbecile would not see that), such that it seems that all Christians can get to Heaven in some way or another.

The education: "Just accept it! DON'T QUESTION IT! THE POPE IS INFALLIBLE EVEN THOUGH THIS DOGMATIC CONTRADICTION QUITE LITERALLY MAKES NO SENSE!"

And whenever the Media covered something - probably to an incorrect degree (The Pope says you no longer have to believe in Limbo!), this was talked about.

The idea of Papal Infallibility and how it works was absolutely forbidden from discussion. Even as a young teenager, I saw that the Pope was contradicting past Popes, and the response was "He's the Pope, the Vicar of Christ - so SHUT UP!" (although in a much more mature, grammatical form),

Martin Luther was seen as a commendable figure in my education, as someone who really did the "right thing" at the time.

There was even a point in one of Saint Mary's Press books that they tried to justifying the Early Christians who "worshiped Nero," because it was "the socially right thing to do at the time," with those "way too conservative Christians" who died because they took their beliefs "too literally."

With all of these contradictions, I threw my hand up in the air and said "Meh, who CARES!" and just lived my life in grave sin (which I'm still dealing with the consequences to this day).

This "wish-washy" catechesis led me to lose my faith in Organized Religion and made me a Deist for a while, and it wasn't until I looked into Orthodoxy in which my life would turn around to a degree.

After a period of soul-searching and - legitimately - coming to the conclusion of Orthodoxy being the Truth (I would join the SSPX if I could dang it), based on the Papacy pre-Schism, I see similar trends of "wish-washiness" occurring in Orthodoxy, and if I react violently, that's why.

So yes, I do have a negative reactionary attitude towards Modernism, and what it did to me spiritually (it was also my own sinfulness, too), that's why.

We don't live in a world of relativism and subjectivity, contrary to what so many people want to believe (their ideas are more fantastical than utopians - "Let's just WILL that Gravity doesn't exist!"), and when people realize that, contrary to these relativists, they lose their Faith - like I did.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2018, 12:43:35 PM by LivenotoneviL »
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #28 on: January 20, 2018, 12:42:08 PM »
One of these days you're going to turn your searing gaze inward, and boy is it going to end in a bloodbath.

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #29 on: January 20, 2018, 12:43:29 PM »
Well, I for one was a little confused by your rhetorical question, LnoL.

What I mean is that - even assuming the fact that Saint John of Damascus did support imaginative prayer (which is a debatable fact because the point he brings up doesn't even lend to the idea that we should create paintings in our head, and his monasticism would be based on the Desert Fathers, which is the basis of contemporary Orthodox spirituality - and Saint Anthony of Egypt condemned the desire of wanting to see Angels or Christ in your prayer), we have more than enough Saints who have repeatedly condemned such a proposition to the point that this shouldn't even be a question.

It's like asking "well, maybe a bishop with universal jurisdiction could work in Orthodox ecclesiology - after all, Saint Maximos really liked the Pope and recognized the fact that Rome is connected to Peter!", even though we have more than enough Saints who have repeatedly condemned such an idea - Saint John of Kronstadt is the one that comes to mind immediately, who called the Roman Catholics "headless," as they have the Pope as their head and not Christ.

Eh, I'm not sure you can really compare the two issues, but alright.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #30 on: January 20, 2018, 12:44:28 PM »
One of these days you're going to turn your searing gaze inward, and boy is it going to end in a bloodbath.

I already see that - I won't deny that I am probably going to hell! My sins are uncountable. I sin (usually in a very grave manner) every single day, and I am close to hopelessness!
All I can do is ask for your prayers for help.

And as I've said, it's probably a sinful attitude of "an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" after having a searing glaze towards me my entire life by people who absolutely hate Traditional Christian ideas, even condemning other people's piety and suffering because it impedes quote on quote "progress."
« Last Edit: January 20, 2018, 12:54:05 PM by LivenotoneviL »
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #31 on: January 20, 2018, 12:45:38 PM »
One of these days you're going to turn your searing gaze inward, and boy is it going to end in a bloodbath.

Seems like it largely already has. Not that I'm one to talk, being in the same boat in a lot of ways.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #32 on: January 20, 2018, 02:32:17 PM »
does anyone think that such people learning from icons don't use their imaginations to 'fill in the blanks' or fill out the story' as they try to understand the meaning of it?
Have you ever done that--imagined the "blanks of the icon story" in a prolonged scenario? And if you have, has it still looked "iconographic"?
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #33 on: January 20, 2018, 02:45:11 PM »
does anyone think that such people learning from icons don't use their imaginations to 'fill in the blanks' or fill out the story' as they try to understand the meaning of it?
Have you ever done that--imagined the "blanks of the icon story" in a prolonged scenario? And if you have, has it still looked "iconographic"?

I feel like mine kind of turns into something midway between icons, live action, and Wayang.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #34 on: January 20, 2018, 02:54:46 PM »
If you read the Desert Fathers then you'll know that a a very frequent theme among Evagrius, John Cassian, and others is the twofold meditation on one's day of death and on the Last Judgment. And this is not some abstract musing but an intense recollection. So clearly when they talk about the dangers of imagination they do not mean what you think they mean.

Saint Nikodimos the Hagiorite, editor of the modern Philokalia, in his Handbook of Spiritual Counsel, has a section entitled, "On the Proper Delights of the Mind." Among various subjects suitable for meditation, he talks about visualizing the face of Jesus, and gives a detailed description- his chestnut hair, his straight nose, his long fingers, etc- to assist in this meditation. However in another section he talks about the hesychastic practice of the Jesus prayer, which includes advice to avoid imagining anything in this practice. Was he contradicting himself? No.

The general pattern of prayer life for the desert fathers was some version of the daily office (psalmody) and also set periods for recitation/ meditation on the scriptures and then times set aside for mental/ noetic prayer. This last practice is the focus of so many of the prayer texts in the Philokalia and other sources. Typically it involved the monk sitting in his dark cell alone and repeating a short prayer- a line from a psalm, the publican's prayer, or, of course, the Jesus prayer. The aim was to divest oneself of distractions (inner and outer) and, in some special way, be alone with God, directly experiencing his presence. For this reason, exercising the imagination is highly dangerous because we are liable to mistake thoughts, visions, and sensations as revelations, or else somehow construe them as tokens of spiritual advancement. We want to encounter God as he shows himself to us and not as our own thoughts (or the devil's deceptions) would frame him. For this reason these texts also talk about how, in the highest stage of prayer, the words of the prayer themselves fall away like scaffolding being taken from a finished building. 

This hesychastic noetic prayer is not what the rosary is for. From what I gather, the rosary originates as an equivalent for the Divine Office, which could be done easily without books or long memorization. It is therefore more of an equivalent to what is called psalmody in Orthodox practice- consisting of psalms and other prayers, poetic canons, etc, which we encounter in the Hours and other formal prayers (of course some Orthodox writers advocate substituting hesychastic prayer for the office in some cases, but that's another subject). In the normal course of these prayers, we will be praying psalms and canons, and reciting scriptural passages, which are full of imagery. If we are attentive, as we should be, our minds will necessarily visualize what we read. If it happens to be a feast day, we will spend a lot of time on particular images- the resurrection, nativity, etc. If someone can give a coherent explanation of how this fundamentally differs from meditating on these same events in the rosary, I'd like to hear it.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #35 on: January 20, 2018, 03:02:52 PM »
Well, I for one was a little confused by your rhetorical question, LnoL.

What I mean is that - even assuming the fact that Saint John of Damascus did support imaginative prayer (which is a debatable fact because the point he brings up doesn't even lend to the idea that we should create paintings in our head, and his monasticism would be based on the Desert Fathers, which is the basis of contemporary Orthodox spirituality - and Saint Anthony of Egypt condemned the desire of wanting to see Angels or Christ in your prayer), we have more than enough Saints who have repeatedly condemned such a proposition to the point that this shouldn't even be a question.

Provide the quotes and their citations then. You keep referring to a long tradition of "how dare you imagine in prayer." St. Augustine wrote quite a lot about the creative use of the imagination and took into account the fears you have. He divided the imagination between phantasia and phantasma. The former is based upon sense perceptions, while the latter is more creative. He uses the example of his father and grandfather. He knew his father, but he never met nor saw his grandfather. Yet he used his imagination to conceive of both of them. The former is born out of phantasia, and the latter is born out of phantasma. But St. Augustine cautions against both, saying that there are those who follow headlong either of these and thus yield false opinions. He urges the supremacy of intentionality and thought to sift through them with understanding. This can be found in his De musica Book 6, Paragraph 32.
"Il ne faut imaginer Dieu ni trop bon, ni méchant. La justice est entre l'excès de la clémence et la cruauté, ainsi que les peines finies sont entre l'impunité et les peines éternelles." - Denise Diderot, Pensées philosophiques 1746

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #36 on: January 20, 2018, 03:28:50 PM »
Well, I for one was a little confused by your rhetorical question, LnoL.

What I mean is that - even assuming the fact that Saint John of Damascus did support imaginative prayer (which is a debatable fact because the point he brings up doesn't even lend to the idea that we should create paintings in our head, and his monasticism would be based on the Desert Fathers, which is the basis of contemporary Orthodox spirituality - and Saint Anthony of Egypt condemned the desire of wanting to see Angels or Christ in your prayer), we have more than enough Saints who have repeatedly condemned such a proposition to the point that this shouldn't even be a question.

Provide the quotes and their citations then. You keep referring to a long tradition of "how dare you imagine in prayer." St. Augustine wrote quite a lot about the creative use of the imagination and took into account the fears you have. He divided the imagination between phantasia and phantasma. The former is based upon sense perceptions, while the latter is more creative. He uses the example of his father and grandfather. He knew his father, but he never met nor saw his grandfather. Yet he used his imagination to conceive of both of them. The former is born out of phantasia, and the latter is born out of phantasma. But St. Augustine cautions against both, saying that there are those who follow headlong either of these and thus yield false opinions. He urges the supremacy of intentionality and thought to sift through them with understanding. This can be found in his De musica Book 6, Paragraph 32.

Saint John Climacus, The Ladder 28:42
"During prayer do not admit any sensory imagination, so as not to be subject to distraction."

Here's an article from Pravmir:
http://www.pravmir.com/article_545.html

From Father John Peck:
http://frjohnpeck.com/mental-imagery-in-eastern-orthodox-private-devotion/
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #37 on: January 20, 2018, 03:40:11 PM »
I will admit nonetheless that my quote from Saint Anthony of Egypt doesn't seem to exist - I was conflating him with Saint Isaac the Syrian.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #38 on: January 20, 2018, 08:15:54 PM »
Neither of the greatest Catholic saints, Doctors of the Church, actually, on prayer, Sts. Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross, recommended the use of the imagination in prayer.  For this reason, St. Teresa was accused of the heresy of quietism, or emptying of the mind in prayer, which brought her to the inquisitorial tribunal.  As a matter of fact, her teachings emphasize the words being recited, nay, spoken in prayer with the awareness of the one to whom they are spoken to.  And, of course, to attune the spiritual ears to the divine voice of the Lord.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #39 on: January 20, 2018, 08:45:19 PM »
Saint Teresa did advocate an apophatic prayer but  did not disavow the other forms of prayer. The same is true of the desert fathers, writers of the Philokalia, etc. I think a source of confusion here, as seen in LoL’s out-of-context St John Climacus quote, is the fathers’ frequent distinction between “prayer” and “psalmody.” Often when they say “prayer” they specifically mean  the apophatic “noetic work” and not what we might call prayer in general. Time and again one reads a contrast of the focused and austere practice of prayer with the varied and complex practice of psalmody. If you don’t understand this distinction you’ll only get confused reading the hesychastic writings about prayer. It seems to me the rosary would broadly fall under the category of “psalmody”. Comparing it to hesychastic prayer is as unfair as comparing the akathist hymn to the same.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #40 on: January 20, 2018, 10:29:33 PM »
Evagrius Ponticus needs to be mentioned.  He may have been the earliest Church Father to teach against using imagination during prayer.  An earlier thread discussed the probable historical context for the teaching:


http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10964.msg150227.html#top

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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #41 on: January 20, 2018, 11:27:36 PM »
Welcome back, Salpy! Evagrius Ponticus also uses the psalmody/ prayer distinction I mentioned above, and advocates meditating on the hour of death and the  last judgment.
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #42 on: January 21, 2018, 12:57:00 AM »
Thanks for this prayer/psalmody point, Iconodule.

I'd also say that we should ask what imagination means. I don't think by "imagination" the neoplatonic patristic writers meant what we commonly mean by imagination today--that is, we usually mean an interior, private movie screen behind our eyes where discrete impressions appear.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 12:57:29 AM by NicholasMyra »
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #43 on: January 21, 2018, 06:44:14 AM »
Thanks for this prayer/psalmody point, Iconodule.

I'd also say that we should ask what imagination means. I don't think by "imagination" the neoplatonic patristic writers meant what we commonly mean by imagination today--that is, we usually mean an interior, private movie screen behind our eyes where discrete impressions appear.

What would you say they meant? Something more like one's personal "narrative" of their own relation to sacred history (like, "What do I think and feel when I hear about the Passion?") or is that also too individualistic?
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Re: Orthodox views on the Holy Rosary and meditating on the mysteries.
« Reply #44 on: January 21, 2018, 08:25:23 AM »
Interesting discussion. I just got back from a Marian movement of priests retreat, they say the whole Rosary along with the Hours at 3-hourly intervals throughout the day. Was very good. Since it is a group prayer, most people pray with their eyes open. And there are ppt images of the Angel speaking to the Holy Virgin etc on the screen. What about that? Would those opposed here still object? What about other prayers, like the Stations of the Cross, where we medidate devoutly on the Passion of Christ and retrace the steps of the Lord and His Mother? Isn't that an Apostolic custom? It seems to me an absolute imago-clastic opinion would culminate logically in something close to deism, as if God had not become Man; as if He had not chosen to be born as a Sweet Baby in a Manger; as if He had not walked the way of the Cross and died there to redeem us in His own divine blood; and is not now gloriously risen in heaven, as true God and true Man. And would the same also apply to praying during Mass? Try to blot out all images, even images of the Passion and of Christ crucified during it? What if you have an image in front of your eyes, as the priest facing the Altar does, and can recall it vividly when you close your eyes?

I need to read more to address each and every difficulty raised, but here's how I see it: the Joyful mysteries are essentially a meditation on the First two Chapters of the Gospel of St. Luke. And there we read, of the Immaculate Virgin, that She "kept all these words, pondering them in Her Heart." (Luk 2:19) It seems to me absolutely certain Mary always had a deep and intense recollection of the vital events in salvation history and it is the memory of those events that She wishes to remain with us always, when we retrace Her steps from Annunciation to Coronation; even the old Testament commemorations of the glorious deliverance from Egypt and Passover have a similar object - to recall and have before our eyes always the wonderful works of God in salvation history. Finally, Catholics have always understood that St. John wants to invite us each individually to be a disciple whom Jesus loves; close to the Cross in contemplation of the Holy Sacrifice, and taking His Mother to our own when it is accomplished. 19:26  "When Jesus therefore had seen His Mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, He saith to His Mother: Woman, behold thy son. 19:27  After that, He saith to the disciple: Behold thy Mother. And from that hour, the disciple took Her to his own." In the Rosary, we meditate on all the most important events in the life of Jesus Christ Our Lord from His Incarnation and birth through His crucifixion and death to His Resurrection and Ascension. The Rosary, then, when prayed with meditation and contemplation, is a living compendium of the whole Gospel.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 08:28:41 AM by Xavier »
"My daughter, look at My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console Me, and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months go to confession and receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary and keep Me company for a quarter of an hour" - The Theotokos to Sr. Lucia.