October 30, 2012

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

Some people assert that the Jesus Prayer is always, or nearly always, followed by delusion, and strictly forbid the use of this prayer.

To accept such an idea and to make such a prohibition constitutes a terrible blasphemy - illusion of an utterly deplorable character. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the one source of our salvation, the only means whereby we can be saved: and His human Name has received from His divinity an unlimited and holy power to save us. How can this power, working for salvation - the only power that gives salvation - become distorted and work for perdition? Such a suggestion is absurd. It is melancholy, blasphemous, soul-destroying nonsense. Those who adopt this line of argument are indeed beguiled by the devil, and deceived by the spurious reasoning which comes from Satan.

Examine all the Holy Scriptures: you will find the Name of the Lord exalted and glorified everywhere in them, and its saving power extolled throughout. Study the writings of the Fathers and you will see that all of them, without exception, suggest and advise the practice of the Jesus Prayer, calling it a weapon stronger than any other in heaven or on earth; a gift of God, an inalienable heritage, one of the culminating and most exalted bequests of the God-Man, a solace most sweet and full of love, a sure pledge. Finally, tum to the canonical decrees of the Eastern Orthodox Church and you will find that in the case of all its illiterate children, both monks and laymen, the Church has established the recitation of the Jesus Prayer as a substitute for the reading of psalms and prayers in one's own cell or room.

What weight, then, can there be in the recommendations of a few blind men, extolled and applauded by others equally blind, as compared with the unanimous testimony of the Holy Scriptures, of all the Holy Fathers, and of the canonical decrees of the Church concerning the Jesus Prayer?


The correct practice of the Jesus Prayer proceeds naturally from correct notions about God, about the most holy Name of the Lord Jesus, and about man's relationship to God.

The Name of our Lord Jesus Christ is a divine Name. The power and effect of that Name are divine, omnipotent and salvific, and transcend our ability to comprehend it. With faith therefore, with confidence and sincerity, and with great piety and fear ought we to proceed to the doing of the great work which God has entrusted to us: to train ourselves in prayer by using the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Certain people have developed an unfortunate prejudice against the Jesus Prayer, although they lack the personal knowledge that comes from a correct and long practice of the Prayer. It would have been much more safe and sensible for such people to refrain from making any judgement on the subject: they should realize their complete ignorance of this sacred task, rather than take upon themselves the mission of preaching against the practice of the Jesus Prayer, and of denouncing this holy prayer as the cause of diabolic illusion and the soul's perdition. I must say to them by way of warning that to censure the prayer which uses the Name of Jesus, and to ascribe a harmful effect to this Name, is as bad as the censure which the Pharisees passed upon the miracles accomplished by Our Lord. This ignorant and blasphemous theorizing against the Jesus Prayer has all the character of heretical pseudo-philosophy.

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, On Practicing Jesus Prayer.

October 25, 2012

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. Ephraim the Syrian

Father and Son and Holy Spirit can be attained only through Their Names.
Do not investigate Their Hypostases,
Meditate only on Their Names.
If you will start to search out the Hypostasis, you will perish;
But if you believe in the Name, you will live. May the Name of the Father be a boundary for you: do not cross it and do not search out His Hypostasis. May the Name of the Son be a wall for you: do not try to overcome it and do not search out His Begetting. May the Name of the Spirit be a hedge for you: do not enter therein to investigate Him.

St. Ephraim the Syrian, Homily on Faith, 4, 129-140.

October 22, 2012

The Name of God in the Holy Scriptures: Prayer of Manasses, King of Judah.

O Lord, Almighty God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of their righteous seed; Who hast made heaven and earth, with all the ornament thereof; Who hast bound the sea by the word of thy commandment; Who hast shut up the deep, and sealed it by thy terrible and glorious Name; Whom all men fear, and tremble before thy power; for the majesty of thy glory cannot be borne, and Thine angry threatening toward sinners is importable: but thy merciful promise is unmeasurable and unsearchable; for Thou art the most high Lord, of great compassion, longsuffering, very merciful, and repentest of the evils of men. Thou, O Lord, according to thy great goodness hast promised repentance and forgiveness to them that have sinned against thee: and of Thine infinite mercies hast appointed repentance unto sinners, that they may be saved. Thou therefore, O Lord, that art the God of the just, hast not appointed repentance to the just, as to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, which have not sinned against thee; but Thou hast appointed repentance unto me that am a sinner: for I have sinned above the number of the sands of the sea. My transgressions, O Lord, are multiplied: my transgressions are multiplied, and I am not worthy to behold and see the height of heaven for the multitude of mine iniquities. I am bowed down with many iron bands, that I cannot life up mine head, neither have any release: for I have provoked thy wrath, and done evil before thee: I did not thy will, neither kept I thy commandments: I have set up abominations, and have multiplied offences. Now therefore I bow the knee of mine heart, beseeching thee of grace. I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I acknowledge mine iniquities: wherefore, I humbly beseech thee, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me, and destroy me not with mine iniquites. Be not angry with me for ever, by reserving evil for me; neither condemn me to the lower parts of the earth. For Thou art the God, even the God of them that repent; and in me Thou wilt shew all thy goodness: for Thou wilt save me, that am unworthy, according to thy great mercy. Therefore I will praise thee for ever all the days of my life: for all the powers of the heavens do praise thee, and Thine is the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

October 20, 2012

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. John Climacus

Flog the foes with the Name of Jesus; for there is no stronger weapon against them either in heaven or on earth.

St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 21

October 17, 2012

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. John Chrysostom

"And whatsoever ye do," he saith, "in word or in deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

For if we thus do, there will be nothing polluted, nothing unclean, wherever Christ is called on. If thou eat, if thou drink, if thou marry, if thou travel, do all in the Name of God, that is, calling Him to aid thee: in everything first praying to Him, so take hold of thy business. Wouldest thou speak somewhat? Set this in front. For this cause we also place in front of our epistles the Name of the Lord. Wheresoever the Name of God is, all is auspicious... Do all in the Name of the Lord, and all shall be prospered to thee. Whereonsoever the Name is placed, there all things are auspicious. If it casts out devils, if it drives away diseases, much more does it render business easy.

And what is to "do in word or in deed"? Either requesting or performing anything whatever.
Hear how in the Name of God Abraham sent his servant; David in the Name of God slew Goliath. Marvelous is His Name and great. Again, Jacob sending his sons saith, "My God give you favor in the sight of the man." (Gen. xliii. 14.) For he that doeth this hath for his ally, God, without whom he durst do nothing. As honored then by being called upon, He will in turn honor by making their business easy. Invoke the Son, give thanks to the Father. For when the Son is invoked, the Father is invoked, and when He is thanked, the Son has been thanked.

These things let us learn, not as far as words only, but to fulfill them also by works.
Nothing is equal to this Name, marvelous is it everywhere. "Thy Name," he saith, "is ointment poured forth." (Cant. i. 3.) He that hath uttered it is straightway filled with fragrance. "No man," it is said, "can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." (1 Cor. xii. 3.) So great things doth this Name Work. If thou have said, In the Name of Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, with faith, thou hast accomplished everything. See, how great things thou hast done! Thou hast created a man, and wrought all the rest (that cometh) of Baptism! So, when used in commanding diseases, terrible is The Name... If thou chant this incantation with faith, thou wilt drive away both diseases and demons, and even if thou have failed to drive away the disease, this is not from lack of power, but because it is expedient it should be so. "According to Thy greatness," he saith, "so also is Thy praise." (Ps. xlviii. 10.) By this Name hath the world been converted, the tyranny dissolved, the devil trampled on, the heavens opened. We have been regenerated by this Name. This if we have, we beam forth; This maketh both martyrs and confessors; This let us hold fast as a great gift, that we may live in glory, and be well-pleasing to God, and be counted worthy of the good things promised to them that love Him.

Commentary on the Epistle to Colossians, Homily XI