Today has been an Orthodox day as I peeked through a Pinterest window into the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church, her icons, images and the sayings of her monks, nuns and saints. To say that this is fascinating would be an understatement because I discovered recently that my supposedly Protestant father was not raised Roman Catholic before his mum died when he was about 9 but as a Ukrainian Orthodox Catholic.
- Since I became a Catholic, I have always been associated with Madonna House apostolate. It was founded by Catherine De Hueck Doherty, who incorporated many Orthodox elements of spirituality into her apostolate. I love this prayer which is chanted while bowing, touching your forehead, heart and then touching the floor.
” Holy God
Have Mercy on us. “
- First interesting discovery was that although I was named after Melanie in Gone With the Wind, there is a St. Melania, an Orthodox saint that is not just some obscure minor saint but actually well-known and revered. I have been Catholic since I was 19 but just discovered her a few months ago. I have a namesake saint!!
Next I learned that many icons speak to my soul; they touch something deep within my spirit.I guess you could say they reverberate within me.I love many of the images.
Eastern Orthodox spirituality has fascinated me for years because it is mystical, based more on the gospel of John where as the Roman Catholic church is based more on the gospel of Matthew,. As an INFP, introvert, Intuitive, perceptive, feeling sort of person much of the writings and sayings of the Desert Fathers and of the Eastern Orthodox Church speak to me.
- Listen to these words from Elder Ephraim
” Each person must bear the weaknesses of others. Who is perfect? Who can boast that he has kept his heart undefiled? Hence, we are all sick, and whoever condemns his brother does not perceive that he himself is sick, because a sick person does not condemn another sick person.”
Elder Ephraim of Philothoeu, counsels from the Holy Mountain
- This quote is just as profound
“What does God want me to do?…The answer was: God is not interested in where you are or what you do…He is interested only in the quality and quantity of the love you give. Nothing else. Nothing else.”
- And of course, the famous Jesus Prayer, is said with our breathing till it becomes an inner mantra, praying automatically within our hearts continually.
The classical form of the Jesus Prayer is,
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.“
The words of this short prayers can vary. You can simply say, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” or “Lord Jesus, have mercy.” Monks of old said, “Lord, make haste to help me. Lord, make speed to save me,” all day long.
The history of the Jesus Prayer goes back to the early sixth century, with Diadochos, who taught that repetition of the prayer leads to inner stillness. Even earlier John Cassian recommended this type of prayer.