The one who Seeks Mercy

The Jesus Prayer contains all the gospel.


“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  It is not good title protocol to leave the subject un-capitalized.  But in our tradition, where we so often would give a capital to “one” even in the body of our text – if it was in reference to God Almighty – it seems particularly appropriate to leave that word without a capital, even in a title, when it is referencing someone who is not the Lord God.  Perhaps not always, in titles, but in this case, the “me” identified is the me who self-identifies with that deep truth that I wish I could hide: I am a sinner.

Think about that for a second or two.  Or more.  The Jesus Prayer could be shortened – it wouldn’t contain the whole Gospel (which it does, properly understood), but it could be shortened.  Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on…

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The Jesus Prayer, from the West

Over at our shared blog, my brother has started blogging about the Jesus Prayer. Here’s the first — the second is also up!


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

This is the Jesus Prayer, in English.

Jesus never prayed it.

Jesus didn’t ask His followers to pray it, even when they asked Him how they should pray (which would have been the ideal time to unleash this beaut’ on ’em!).

Yet, praying this one prayer has been, and continues to be, the whole spiritual devotion, the full spiritual formation plan, of countless Christians – both those living and those who have already joined the great company of the witness cloud by which we are compassed about.  This short prayer has been said to contain the entire Gospel (God’s good news of salvation through the Son, Jesus Christ); it is said to encapsulate all prayers; it is held in prayer, by some, in place of Psalmody.

My first words on this prayer, today, are these: it is called…

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Wise words on prayer from St Aelred.

The Contemplative Writer

Aelred of Rievaulx
Aelred of Rievaulx (c. 1110 – 1167) was an English Cisterician monk and the abbot of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire. In honor of his feast day tomorrow (January 12), I wanted to share with you a beautiful passage in one of Aelred’s works, The Rule for a Recluse. In this passage, Aelred explains to his readers how to pray for a world in need. I think you’ll agree that his thoughts seem especially appropriate in our day and age.

Praying for the World

What is more useful than prayer? Give it. What is more gracious than pity? Spend it. Hold the whole world in one embrace of love; consider the good to congratulate them, the wicked to grieve over them; behold the afflicted and compassionate the oppressed; call to mind the miseries of the poor, the groans of orphans, the desolation of widows, the sorrows of those who…

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On the subject of silence, a poem by Madeleine L’Engle for you this Epiphany.

The Contemplative Writer

Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007) was a beloved American writer. If you’re like me, her novel A Wrinkle in Time was formative for your young adult years. L’Engle also wrote poetry; today, I invite you to reflect on her beautiful poem about silence, brokenness, and the coming of Jesus.

Ready for Silence

Then hear now the silence
He comes in the silence
in silence he enters
the womb of the bearer
in silence he goes to
the realm of the shadows
redeeming and shriving
in silence he moves from
the grave clothes, the dark tomb
in silence he rises
ascends to the glory
leaving his promise
leaving his comfort
leaving his silence

So come now Lord Jesus
Come in your silence
breaking our noising
laughter of panic
breaking this earth’s time
breaking us breaking us
quickly Lord Jesus
make no long tarrying

When will you come
and how will you come

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What about university?

Dreher’s chapter about education in The Benedict Option also addresses university. Here, the idea essentially revolves around young men and women living out the chapter on the church as village. That in order to keep from devolving into the party culture, sex culture, porn culture, drinking culture, hedonism, relativism, and general social disorder that characterises the ‘freedom’ of young people at secular universities, young Christians need to create and seek out intentional community.

He does not call for only sending them to Christian universities, in part because some of these are being challenged in various ways, such as (to use a famous Canadian example) Trinity Western University whose code of conduct includes not engaging in extra-marital or homosexual sex acts. The bar on heterosexual activity doesn’t get you in trouble, but the bar on homosexual activity gets you branded bigot these days (this is not the point of this post, so please stay out of that debate in the comments).

Anyway, this portion of the chapter was, I think, done well. Throughout the book, one of my issues has been the randomness of the anecdotes, most of wish only point to symptoms of the problem, or the fact that the interviews with people simply give their views on life and strategy, rather than showing their success. These even counts for his interviews of monks at Norcia.

However, in this section as well as a few parts of the chapter on community, Dreher actually gives concrete examples of Benedict Option successes. He tells of various groups of young Christians at different universities, some Protestant, some Roman Catholic, and how they banded together to form communities that supported them throughout their time at university and helped their faith grow strong. He even tells of how one such group’s existence contributed to the church’s mission of making new disciples. So for this I am glad.

As a person who works in the university, I want the Christians to come to university to be able to come to secular institutions and get their degrees with a robust faith and even spiritual growth at the other end. There is no reason why the university should erode or destroy your faith. Sure, it will challenge it. I certainly had my share of challenges as a Christian in undergrad, but having the critical thinking skills and resilience to resist should be part of the young person’s journey through university.

I admit that I had good community as an undergrad, and this probably helped, besides my own determination to come to grips with arguments and ideas that challenged what I believed. I belonged to a supportive church community, was active in IVCF, and had a great group of Christian friends who were willing to talk matters of faith and of import.

Speaking about secular universities, the university should resist the urge to become secularist. Rather, universities should be pluralist, creating an atmosphere where the conservative Christian and the atheist and the Hindu and the Muslim and the liberal Christian can co-exist, make friendships, and have respectful, lively debate on topics that really matter. That was my experience as an undergrad 12 years ago, and I hope it is still the case. (I currently hold a research post, so I can’t say for sure, but it looks like my current place of employment would fit this model.)

Theosis and the Palamite Distinction: Questions & Concerns

Important thoughts on Palamism (which occasionally appears on this blog).

Eclectic Orthodoxy

by Fr Aidan Kimel

That there exists in God a real distinction between his essence and his energies, theologians assure us, is an irreformable dogma of the Orthodox Church. If so, it is a curious dogma, originating in a question that most ordinary believers today would find arcane and probably irrelevant to their lives: Is the light experienced by those who practice the hesychastic method created or uncreated? In this short article I raise four questions that urgently need to be addressed by Orthodox theologians and scholars.

1) How is dogma established in the Orthodox Church?

The distinction between the divine essence and the divine energies was asserted in the 14th century by a series of local synods, the two most important being the 1341 and 1351 Synods of Constantinople. Their Tomes were subsequently received as expressing authentic Orthodox doctrine; but precisely what level of authority do they enjoy? The…

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John Behr on the Trinity

Some brief, lucid thoughts on the Trinity from Fr John Behr.

Eclectic Orthodoxy

The Trinity: Scripture and the Greek Fathers

by the Very Rev. John Behr

Some 30 years ago, Karl Rahner claimed that most Christians are “mere monotheists,” that if the doctrine of the Trinity proved to be false, the bulk of popular Christian literature, and the mindset it reflects, would not have to be changed. Unfortunately, this is largely still true.

Defining the doctrine of the Trinity as a mystery which cannot be fathomed by unaided human reason invites a position such as Melanchthon’s: “We adore the mysteries of the Godhead. That is better than to investigate them.” But the danger of not reflecting carefully on what has been revealed, as it has been revealed, is that we remain blinded by our own false gods and idols, however theologically constructed.

So how can Christians believe in and worship the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and yet claim that there…

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