Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer: Experiencing the Presence of God and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of an Ancient Spirituality

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For nearly two millennia, the holy menand women of Eastern Christianity havebuilt lives of reflection, humility, andconstant connection to God around asimple sentence, the Jesus Prayer. Now,Norris J. Chumley—a documentarian andprofessor—reveals the history, practices,and abiding wisdom of this mysticaltradition to the rest of the world.

Chumley traveled to some of the earlyChurch’s holiest sites with the VeryReverend Dr. John A. McGuckin, a priestand professor—to St. Anthony’s ...

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Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer: Experiencing the Mysteries of God and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of an Ancient Spirituality

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Overview

For nearly two millennia, the holy menand women of Eastern Christianity havebuilt lives of reflection, humility, andconstant connection to God around asimple sentence, the Jesus Prayer. Now,Norris J. Chumley—a documentarian andprofessor—reveals the history, practices,and abiding wisdom of this mysticaltradition to the rest of the world.

Chumley traveled to some of the earlyChurch’s holiest sites with the VeryReverend Dr. John A. McGuckin, a priestand professor—to St. Anthony’s Monasteryin the Egyptian desert and St. Catherine’sMonastery on Mount Sinai, to convents inTransylvania and to monasteries in Russia,the Ukraine, and Greece—in search ofChristianity’s first mystical tradition andits modern-day practitioners. The monksand nuns he met taught him how to movethrough the stages of the Jesus Prayer, andhow it can foster an unceasing, and everdeepening,conversation with God.

Enriched with stunning color photographsof these holy sites, where photography israrely allowed, Mysteries of the Jesus Prayerreveals the powerful theology packed intothis prayer’s few words.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

A rare investigation into the spiritual life of Eastern Orthodox Mystics.

Through the repetition of one prayer—"Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner"—monks, nuns and hermits have found inner silence and union with God for nearly 2,000 years. With the intention of bringing this prayer to the masses, Chumley (Columbia University Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life) and his friend Father John secured permission to visit and document the devotional way of life preserved in ancient monasteries. As they toured the Holy places as privileged guests, they crossed the Egyptian desert in an air-conditioned van to the oldest Christian monastery on Earth, viewed Moses' still flourishing burning bush at St. Catherine's on Mt. Sinai and experienced the powerful ringing of the world's largest bell at close range in Kiev. "Without prayer, a monk is just a man in a black dress," says Father Jonas in Kiev.The book includes full-color photographs and wonderful insights into a legendary world that still exists. In particularly evocative prose, Chumley recalls the myrrh-scented remains of saints as he views stacks of bones in the monks' cells, tells heroic but often gory tales of famous saints' demise and shares the peaceful wisdom of the monks. Although impressed by the warmth and love exhibited by the Holy people he encountered, Chumley remains an outsider and writes for the intellectual, rather than devotional, reader.

A blend of anthropological study, spiritual quest and travelogue that sheds light on the search for inner peace.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061874178
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/5/2011
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Introduction 1

1 The Power of the Jesus Prayer 7

2 The Living Tradition of the Jesus Prayer 25

The Monasteries of St. Antony and St. Catherine

3 The Life-Transforming Power of One Brief Prayer 49

4 The Jesus Prayer on the Holy Mountain 65

The Monasteries of Mount Athos

5 The History of the Jesus Prayer 87

6 The Jesus Prayer in the Painted Churches of Romania 103

7 Following the Jesus Prayer into the Caves of Kiev 129

8 The Jesus Prayer amid the Grandeur of Russia 149

Epilogue 171

Acknowledgments 181

Suggested Reading 187

Index 189

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Journey Into Christian Mysticism

    I both believe and observe that our culture yearns for direct experience, a feeling of connection with the Divine. As a (New Thought) Christian mystic and lifelong meditator, I won't settle for anything less myself. I see, feel and hear that same insistence becoming the norm. The old paradigm has become less satisfying as we are increasing aware of our thirst for real spiritual bliss. Perhaps we can discover hidden gifts as we explore really, really old time religion.

    "Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer" really touched my core. After years of meditation and practices in several traditions, this book links the wisdom of mysticism with authentic Christianity; it's at the same time ancient yet in this moment and very useful. For those who feel disconnected, alienated or even angry with religion in general, and specifically with Christian churches, Dr. Norris Chumley brings us the direct and beautiful teachings of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the words and actions of sages, saints and ascetics. Simple, yet deep; entertaining yet academic; historic but never boring -- I think you'll love this book and refer to it again and again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 5, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    Beautifully put together. A long time coming to show the world what the Christian East has known for two millenium.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Journey Into Christian Mysticism

    I both believe and observe that our culture yearns for direct experience, a feeling of connection with the Divine. As a (New Thought) Christian mystic and lifelong meditator, I won't settle for anything less myself. I see, feel and hear that same insistence becoming the norm. The old paradigm has become less satisfying as we are increasing aware of our thirst for real spiritual bliss. Perhaps we can discover hidden gifts as we explore really, really old time religion.


    "Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer" really touched my core. After years of meditation and practices in several traditions, this book links the wisdom of mysticism with authentic Christianity; it's at the same time ancient yet in this moment and very useful. For those who feel disconnected, alienated or even angry with religion in general, and specifically with Christian churches, Dr. Norris Chumley brings us the direct and beautiful teachings of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the words and actions of sages, saints and ascetics. Simple, yet deep; entertaining yet academic; historic but never boring -- I think you'll love this book and refer to it again and again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted June 27, 2011

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