The Invocation of Christ in Eastern Monastic Psalmody c. 350-450
Chapter One: Updating an Alsatian
← 6 | 7 → CHAPTER ONE
Updating an Alsatian
I. Noms du Christ et voies d’oraison
In Chapter 3 of Noms du Christ, Hausherr introduces the reader to what he understands to be the motivation behind the emergence of the Jesus Prayer. Quoting from the nineteenth-century Russian classic, The Way of a Pilgrim, he records the eponymous hero’s question to his staretz: ‘How is it possible to pray continually?’ He continues:
Many other men in preceding centuries had asked themselves the same question the Pilgrim asked. And the answers given have varied widely. It was from this very search for continual prayer that the Jesus Prayer was born. In order to understand and appreciate and situate this prayer we will have to accompany that search, discover its guiding principles and observe the results which it has produced.1
What follows is a Great Trek from the acts of prayer of the earliest Christian communities to Nicephorus and the Athonite teaching on the Jesus Prayer in the medieval period. For the purpose of this study our attention is focused on the third, fourth, and fifth chapters, which are the most relevant to our task. For in those chapters we are offered a detailed analysis of the elements within desert monasticism which, Hausherr claims, constitute the evolution whose end product was to be the invocation, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me’. Let us consider a brief...
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