During the annual assembly of the superiors of all monasteries within the Archdiocese of Bucharest, which took place last Thursday at the Patriarchal Palace, Patriarch Daniel of Romania shared his thoughts on prayer, hesychasm, and the antidote to secularisation.
The most concise and intense prayer
“The first duty of a monk or nun is to pray, and this practise is all the more important because there is a greater need to illuminate the souls of afflicted people. Therefore, the Jesus Prayer or the Prayer of the Heart is the shortest and most intensive form of prayer.”
“The hesychast fathers cultivated this prayer in particular. The hesychast movement was primarily a monastic endeavour, but over time, individuals who visited monasteries learnt the Jesus Prayer, and thus, it spread among the lay faithful.”
Patriarch Daniel of Romania emphasised that the hesychast fathers commemorated this year by the Romanian Patriarchate “left behind direct or indirect disciples, who had the same hesychast spirit and who were also formed by the writings of the Holy Fathers, translated by the hesychast fathers, as was the case in the monasteries of Neamț and Caldarușani.”
“They practised the Prayer of the Heart, but they also translated the writings of the Holy Fathers for everybody and fostered a Christian culture and an organised church life.”
The remedy for secularisation
According to the Patriarch of Romania, the hescyhast current has seen “periods of immense intensity, although the intensity has occasionally reduced amid secularisation and the weakening of faith” over the ages.
“The 14th and 18th centuries were periods of secularisation, characterised by increasing worldliness and distance from the spirit of the Gospel.”
“The monasteries that preserved the faith of the Holy Fathers attempted and succeeded in providing not only an existential but also a theological explanation of the truth regarding the effectiveness of prayer. They also contributed to the renewal of life in several other monasteries, translated the writings of the Holy Fathers, and worked to restore the theological life of the Church.”
“The remedy to secularisation was increased prayer, a return to the Holy Fathers and their works, and an intensification of communion.”
In his address, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church also highlighted an issue relating to the Tabor light.
“The Apostles beheld the light not only because Jesus was transfigured but also because divine grace transformed the Apostles’ eyes, souls, and senses. Others would have seen nothing, but they were empowered to see. Therefore, they did.”
“Those who are blessed with the experience of uncreated light and those who see those in the light perceive because God has granted them this power,” Patriarch Daniel said.
Before the monastic synaxis, His Grace Timotei of Prahova, Assistant Bishop to the Archdiocese of Bucharest, led a Te Deum service in the “Europa Christiana” Hall of the Patriarchal Palace.
Photography courtesy of Basilica.ro / Raluca-Emanuela Ene