“…contemplation is not a relaxation exercise.” ~ Fr. Carl J. Arico
Nonetheless, my periods of awkwardly praying the Jesus Prayer are incredibly relaxing. As my body and mind calm, sleep isn’t a risk. Well, it does become a wonderful benefit when I pick up on this prayer as I lay down for the night. It is a powerful sleep aid to practice between 30 minutes on toward the hour before drifting into sleep. So then, am I violating what he voiced in, “The Cloud of Unknowing”?
“Even as the soul of Christ had to descend into hell, before it ascended into heaven, so must the soul of man” ~ Theologia Germanica
So then, where is this “hell” as I drift off into sleep, those evenings I prayer the Jesus prayer after laying down? My being lulled off to sleep as the prayer is repeated, in my eyes, isn’t a violation of Fr. Arico’s words, but rather is akin to Archimandrite Sophrony.
Imagine Silouan’s statement, personally, There you are suffering in whatever your hell looks like, but are you doing so without any sense of self-abasement? Perhaps, you are condemning someone else for causing some kind of suffering. Should you be deriding yourself or blaming anyone else, in any fashion, for being there, then you don’t understand any of those quotes. None of life’s hellacious suffering or conflict are the problem. It is in this point that I have lived the least.
With those words, let me add what was built around that quote from “His Life is Mine”:
“There are two kinds of humility: human and divine. The first finds expression in the ascetic’s conviction, ‘I am worse than all other men,’ and lies at the root of our prayer-life in the Name of Christ. Without this humility the second kind, that of Christ and proper to God, will remain for ever out of reach. Of this divine humility Staretz Silouan writes:
‘The Lord taught me to stay my mind in hell and not despair. And thus my soul humbles herself; but this is not yet true humility, which there are no words to describe. When the soul approaches the Lord she is afraid; but when she sees the Lord the beauty of His glory fills her with ineffable joy, and in the love of God and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the earth is quite forgot. This is the paradise of the Lord: all will live in love and their Christ-like humility will make every man happy to see others in greater glory. The humility of Christ dwells in the lowly ones: they are glad to be the least of men. The Lord gave me understanding of this.” ~ Archimandrite Sophrony