Saturday, April 28, 2012

"That which we are doing is higher than chanting"

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (
Note: The purpose of this anecdote is to encourage both monastics and laymen to pursue noetic prayer. Though some might feel that this demeans psalmody/chanting and the liturgical worship of the Orthodox Church, this is not so. The Fathers throughout history have been both hymnographers and chanters, and feel that this is the most appropriate form of common worship that is pleasing to God, and that there is a time and place for every form of true worship. However, the Fathers have always acknowledged that true prayer of the heart surpassess all, as St. John of the Ladder writes: "Men, whose mind has truly learned to pray, indeed converse with the Lord face to face, as those who have the ear of the king (that is his most close and trusted servants.)”
"That which we are doing is higher than chanting" (amateur translation)
An ascetic on the Holy Mountain once sent his disciple to sell his handiwork in Karyes. There, the disciple heard the most beautiful chanting, in the Church of the Protaton.

One day, he asked his Elder: “Elder, I have a thought. We here in the desert are not doing anything. You should see how they hymn God there: psalmody, choirs, and other things. Here we only pray with the prayer rope: “Lord Jesus Christ...”

Another day, the Elder came to him and said: “Let's go, my child, to see what those fathers are doing. Let's experience their typikon ourselves.”

And when they were there in church, the Elder bent down and whispered into his disciple's ear: “Truly, my child, here they are glorifying God.”

But before he could finish, a strong earthquake hit; everything was shaking.

Then, immediately, the chanters left their music books and the “terirems”, and pulled out their prayer ropes, crying out: “LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON US!!!”

The disciple turned to his Elder and said: “Elder, let's go to our work, to our hesychia, to our kalyve. That which we are doing is higher than chanting.”

Thus he was truly convinced that the best prayer is the prayer with the prayer rope.
Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

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