Sunday, November 16, 2008

On Prayer

I've been enjoying the book: On Prayer, by Archimandrite Sophrony. He writes about kenosis and recapitulation:
To transport ourselves in mind, whenever we suffer tribulation, into universal dimensions makes us like unto Christ. If we do this, everything that happens to us individually will be a revelation of what happens in the whole world. Streams of cosmic life will flow through us, and we shall be able, through personal experience to discern both man in his temporal existence and even the Son of man in his two natures. It is precisely thus, through suffering, that we grow to cosmic and meta-cosmic self-consciousness. By going through the trial of self-emptying in following Christ, crucifying ourselves with Him, we become receptive to the infinitely great Divine Being. In wearying penitential prayer for the whole world, we merge ourselves spiritually with all mankind: we become universal in the image of the universality of Christ Himself, who bears in Himself all that exists. Dying with Him and in Him, we here and now anticipate resurrection.

The Lord suffered for every one of us. His sufferings do indeed cover all our ills since the fall of Adam. In order to know Christ properly, it is essential that we ourselves enter into His anguish, and experience it all, if this be possible, as He Himself did. Thus, and only thus, is Christ-God made known, existentially -- i.e., not abstractly, through psychological or theoretical faith that is not converted into deeds.

From the outset when I returned to Christ, with a little more understanding now of Who Jesus was, my heart underwent a change and my thoughts took a different direction. From my inner conflicts I spontaneously shifted to humanity at large, and found myself suffering with all mankind. The experience made me see that we must not only live the ordeals that fall to our lot within the narrow framework of our individuality but must transfer them in spirit to the universal plane -- in other words, realize that the same cosmic life that flows through us flows in the veins of everyone else. Because of this apparently natural psychological impulse, I began to feel all the ills -- disease, disasters, feuds, enmities, natural catastrophes, wars, and so on -- that befall the human race, with increased compassion. This really quite normal compulsion was to bring forth precious fruit for me: I learned to live the fate of all mankind as if it were happening to me personally. It is precisely this that is enjoined by the commandment, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself'.
pp. 76, 77

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