In what will likely be my only attempt to participate in this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (in addition to a few meager prayers for that intention), I took time today to breathe with the other lung by watching/listening to this recent talk by Metropolitan Jonah of the OCA. His prior training in eastern monasticism gives his presentations a credibility and a depth that really draws me in.
The title of his talk, “Do not resent, do not react, keep inner stillness,” proposes three principles of living the Christian life taught by the Eastern Fathers. Underlying the successful implementation of these principles is the practice of intentional silence – a proposition highly incongruous with the busyness and wordiness of our current American culture.
Met Jonah begins with a quote:
St Isaac the Syrian:
Let us take refuge in the Lord and ascend a little to the place where thoughts dry up and stirrings vanish, where memories fade away and the passions die, where human nature becomes serene and is transformed as it stands in the other world.
He proceeds to teach how, through, silence, prayer, and repentance, we can ascend above the rational two-dimensional “Etch-A-Sketch” level of consciousness to attain the highest levels of spiritual maturity, having our senses transformed through the grace that comes with entering into cooperation with God. Then the entire creation will shimmer with God, and we’ll see God’s presence in everyone and everything, and all of creation is made new before our eyes. The highest level is to know the Father in the Son by the Holy Spirit, so that we can dare to say “Our Father”.
As we grow deeper and deeper in this spiritual maturity, we can become more like God, especially in his compassion and forgiveness. The grace of God’s presence within us will enable us to root out the criticisms, condemnations, and judgments to which we are so prone. Our increasingly compassionate and forgiving heart will empower us to practice not reacting, not resenting, and keeping our inner stillness.
As an example of the effectiveness of this path, he concludes his talk with an emotional testimony of apparition, healing, and forgiveness involving Matushka Olga, who has been supernaturally assisting abused and battered women.