JESUS PRAYER, THE KERNEL OF THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY
In the Eastern spiritual tradition the contemplation is made with the help of the Jesus prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner", which becomes the prayer of the mind in its higher phase when words are no longer used, but the mind is occupied by this prayer together with the heart. This combination was the work of Hesychasm. The hesychast is one who devotes himself to the prayer of silence, to prayer that is stripped, so far as possible, of all images, words, and
... ages, words, and discursive thinking. Jesus Prayer has become linked to certain physical exercises, designed to assist concentration. Breathing was carefully regulated in time with the Prayer, and a particular bodily posture was recommended: head bowed, chin resting on the chest, eyes fixed on the place of the heart, but these exercises did not constitute the essence of prayer. The Jesus Prayer is not a magic talisman, nor do there exist any bodily exercises that will lead us automatically to union with God. From Sinai and Mount Athos the Jesus Prayer spread not only throughout the Greek East but also to the Slav world and then, through Paissy Velichkovsky, the apostle of the Jesus Prayer, to Romania. He was the first one to initiate this revival on the Slavic monachism, and it is instrumental to notice how this revival flourished on Romanian land. Despite what has been said about it (by some Western detractors), the practice of the heart prayer consists in giving way to the burning of the heart by grace, while at the same time, steadfastly watching over (nepsis) its inward purity. Thus, Jesus prayer becomes a medium for the union of the soul with God, due to the frequent practice of it, that would divert the soul from sinful deeds and draw it to an essential selfknowledge. The Name of Jesus, present in the human heart, communicates to it the power of deification. Shining through the heart, the light of the Name of Jesus illuminates all the universe.