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Dating too soon after separation

Like St Gregory of Nazianzos (329-89) when he says that we are to remember God more often than we breathe, they may mean simply that prayer should be as constant and spontaneous — as much a part of our instinctive existence — as the act of respiration.

All that is necessary to fulfil one’s duty to God is to pray simply, to stand and say the Our Father as Christ taught us.

Metropolitan Kallistos addresses the question of whether there are parallels between the hesychastic method of prayer and other apparently similar techniques of prayer in Hinduism and Islam. This is something to which as Christians we need to give particular thought at this present time. Jung is typical: ‘Spirit is the living body seen from within, and the body is the outer manifestation of the living spirit — the two beings really one.’ If writers on Chris ­tian spirituality continue to assume a sharp contrast between body and soul — as they have frequently done in the past — their words will seem increasingly irrele­vant to their secular contemporaries. In fact Evagrios is less anti-physical than these words suggest, for he assigns an important function in prayer to such bodily experiences as the gift of tears.

Looking at the origins of hesychasm and the teachings of figures such as St Gregory Palamas, St Gregory of Sinai and Nikiphoros the Hesychast, Metropolitan Kallistos addresses the question: is the Jesus Prayer an essential and authentically Christian practice, or is it unnecessary and perhaps even harmful? For we are living in an age when, alike in philosophy, in physics and in psychology, it is proving less and less helpful to posit a dichotomy between spirit and matter, between soul and body. In reality a body-soul division of a Platonic type has no place within Christian tradition. One of the most thoroughgoing attempts in the history of Christian spirituality to ascribe a positive and dynamic role to the body during prayer was made by the fourteenth-century hesychasts.

Half a century after Diadochos, the two Old Men of Gaza, St Barsanouphios and St John (early sixth century) recommend a variety of short prayers that include the name of Jesus.

Around the same time or slightly later, the contains for the first time what came afterwards to be regarded as the standard form of the Jesus prayer: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.’ The addition of the words ‘the sinner’ at the end is not found before the fourteenth century.

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