Saturday, April 09, 2011

Premiere of Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer

Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer opened last night at the Quad Cinema here in NYC. A group of us from several seminaries went to see it. Go and see it if you can. Look for it on Netflix. The New York Times reviewed it on Friday.

From the monastery of St Catherine's on Mount Sinai to monasteries and convents in Romania and Russia, monks and nuns spoke about their spiritual practices including silence and the use of the Jesus prayer. "There is a difference," said someone, "between silence as the absence of sound and silence as interior peace." When asked about her personal experience of the Jesus prayer, a nun said, "You don't ask a bride about her experience of the bridegroom." After the movie Dr John McGuckin and Dr Chumley talked about the content and the making of the movie. The movement of the Jesus prayer from the head and the mind to the heart is part of what is being described. One sees God with the heart, Dr McGuckin said. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." How one does this is debated, but it is the kind of content that gives the movie a rich texture.

"Who can say the Jesus prayer?" the narrator asks a venerable monk. "Everyone,  of course. Monks, nuns, priests, bishops, laity," came the reply. It would have been wonderful to hear from laity accustomed to praying this prayer in their own spiritual lives.

Of the movie, IMDB says:

“Noted theologian Dr. Norris J. Chumley teams up with historian John A. McGuckin to explore early monastic Christian life, but make an incredible discovery about an ancient prayer that puts mankind in direct contact with God. For nearly a decade, McGuckin and Dr. Chumley traveled the globe to speak with religious leaders about the 13 holy sites where Christianity originated. Though the sacred sites they visited in such places as Egypt, Mount Sinai, Eastern Europe, and Russia opened their eyes to aspects of Christianity long forgotten by the mainstream church, it was the repeated discussion of an ancient, divine prayer that proved most compelling to the two seasoned adventurers. Dubbed the “Jesus Prayer” by the faithful, the chant is said to establish a tangible connection between mankind and the creator. Now, for the first time in modern history, this secret is finally revealed to the Western World.” - Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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