contemplative prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church
Hesychasm is a mystical tradition of contemplative prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
- Watchfulness is a continual fixing and halting of thought at the entrance to the heart.
- Saint Hesychios the Priest, On Watchfulness and Holiness, in Philokalia
- A brother asked an elder, “What is hēsychia and what good does it do?”
- The elder said to him, “Hēsychia is remaining in a cell with understanding and fear of God, refraining from rancor and arrogance. That kind of hēsychia is the mother of all virtues and protects the monk from the fiery darts of the enemy, not allowing him to be wounded by them.
- O hēsychia! The advancement of those who dwell alone.
- O hēsychia! The ladder to heaven.
- O hēsychia! The way to the kingdom of heaven.
- O hēsychia! Mother of sorrow for sin.
- O hēsychia! Patron of repentance.
- O hēsychia! Mirror of offenses, showing a person his shortcomings.
- O hēsychia! That does not hinder tears and sighs.
- O hēsychia! That lightens up the soul.
- O hēsychia! Mother of gentleness.
- O hēsychia! Concomitant of humility.
- O hēsychia! That brings one to a peaceable disposition.
- O hēsychia! That converses with angels.
- O hēsychia! That enlightens the way of the mind.
- O hēsychia! Espoused to fear of God, inquisitor of logismoi, and toiling together with discernment.
- O hēsychia! Mother of all good, the foundation of fasting, a bridle for the tongue and a barrier to gluttony.
- O hēsychia! School of prayer, school of reading.
- O hēsychia! Calm of logismoi and a sheltered harbor.
- O hēsychia! That importunes God, a weapon of the young that maintains a state of mind for which one need not repent and that preserves untroubled those who are desirous of remaining in their own cells.
- O hēsychia! The yoke that is easy and the burden that is light [Matt 11:30], conferring repose and support on the one who is supporting you.
- O hēsychia! Delight of heart and soul.
- O hēsychia! Exclusively concerned for that which is its own and speaking to Christ, ever having death before its eyes.
- O hēsychia! A bridle for the eyes, the hearing, and the tongue.
- O hēsychia! Looking for the coming of Christ by day and by night and keeping the lamp from going out [Matt 21:1-13]. In your longing for him you are ever singing the words, ‘My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready’ [Ps 56:8].
- O hēsychia! That restrains boasting and supplies weeping in place of laughter to the one who possesses you.
- O hēsychia! Mother of devotion.
- O hēsychia! Enemy of shamelessness and hater of loose talk, ever looking for the coming of Christ.
- O hēsychia! Prison of passions.
- O hēsychia! The field of Christ bringing forth good harvests.
- Yes brother, acquire this, being mindful of death.”
- No. 35, Chapter 2 (On Hesychia), The Book of the Elders (Sayings of the Desert Fathers): The Systematic Collection, translated by John Wortley. Cistercian Publications, 2012.
- "When you pray", it has been wisely said by an Orthodox writer in Finland, "you yourself must be silent... You yourself must be silent; let the prayer speak". To achieve silence: this is of all things the hardest and the most decisive in the art of prayer. Silence is not merely negative - a pause between words, a temporary cessation of speech - but, properly understood, it is highly positive: an attitude of attentive alertness, of vigilance, and above all of listening. The hesychast, the person who has attained hesychia, inner stillness or silence, is par excellence the one who listens. He listens to the voice of prayer in his own heart, and he understands that this voice is not his own but that of Another speaking within him.
- Ware, Kallistos. The Power of the Name: The Jesus Prayer in Orthodox Spirituality. SLG Press, Convent of the Incarnation: Fairacres, Oxford. (excerpt)
Quotes about hesychasmEdit
- Given all the ways – both explicit and subtle – in which hesychasm is profoundly embroidered into the fabric of contemporary monasticism at the Holy Mountain, it is thus justified to conclude that not only is hesychasm Athonite, but Athos too is fundamentally hesychast.
- Dorobantu, Marius (2022). Hesychasm at the Holy Mountain: Athos is Hesychast and Hesychasm is Athonite. Routledge Handbook of Mount Athos. London: Routledge.
- Through hesychasm ... different parts of the Byzantine Empire were linked with each other and to its centre. In a way, hesychasm became a cultural tradition common to Greeks, Slavs and Romanians and assumed the role of an intermediary, analogous to the role played by the Cyrillo-Methodian movement of the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries.
- A. Strezova, Hesychasm and Art: The Appearance of New Iconographic Trends in Byzantine and Slavic Lands in the 14th and 15th Centuries (Canberra: ANU Press, 2014), p. 27.
- Hesychasm, which is too often looked upon as a philosophico-mystical “curiosity” of purely historical interest, has its roots in Christianity as such, and ... it is not merely a rather special development of Christian spirituality, but its purest and deepest expression.
- Schuon, Frithjof (1953). The Transcendent Unity of Religions. London, Faber and Faber. (pp. 176–7f.) Quoted in: Johnson, Christopher D. L. (2010). Globalization of Hesychasm and the Jesus prayer: contesting contemplation. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-4411-2547-7. (p. 74).