“Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on me, a sinner”. This is the Jesus Prayer. Our official catechism, “Christ Our Pascha”, explains the ancient prayer tradition of our Ukrainian Catholic Church, and explains to us the purpose of the Jesus Prayer.
Namely, to instil within our heart and soul “a continual and vivid consciousness of God’s presence.”
This is a part of our ancient Ukrainian spirituality. It has always been there, but not remembered or used by everyone. Communism and immigration have somewhat broken this tradition, but it has never gone away and in recent years is making a significant recovery in practice.
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It is recited on a prayer rope, or on a shorter wrist band. The rope itself has 100 knots, and the Jesus prayer is repeated a hundred times, and often is repeated many times over.
The Jesus Prayer is started with the usual beginning prayers, “Heavenly King”, “Thrice Holy Hymn”, and the “Our Father”. It is concluded by saying the hymn to the Mother of God, “It is truly right to bless you”.
The Jesus prayer is a mystical prayer. In other words, it is meant to be repeated very often so that it becomes part of our daily life. We wake up saying it, go to sleep saying it, and when we wake at night, we can automatically hear ourselves saying it.
We, in the Ukrainian Catholic Church have the Jesus Prayer. It is time that more of our faithful discoverer this form of prayer.
This is truly amazing for us. Something monastic people do. They say the Jesus Prayer because they are constantly united with God in spirit, (mystically). This is the goal of good Christians. That is what real meditation is all about. That is how you experience the inner peace, and love in a turbulent life and world.
Many cultures seek God in different ways. We, in the Ukrainian Catholic Church have the Jesus Prayer. It is time that more of our faithful discoverer this form of prayer.
Speaking of Jesus, the Acts of the Apostles say, “There is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”. (Acts 10:12)
This ancient form of prayer practised throughout the Christian East does not stand alone. It is anchored in the Holy Eucharist. It is part of the whole prayer of our church. Our Ukrainian Byzantine spirituality is very profound. One which must further be explored.
Those who are interested in exploring their spiritual heritage deeper, can start by picking up our official Catechism “Christ our Pascha”.
Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM
This article was published in The Church and Life Newspaper
This post is also available in: Ukrainian