May, 2009. Holy Trinity Monastery hosts its one and only Memorial Day youth retreat. I join a small group in discussion with Hieromonk Cyprian, the resident Greek Australian. He read the following out loud, and it’s stayed with me:
I said to the Elder, “They are constantly saying prayers at the monastery. They are always saying the Jesus prayer. While at their various chores they recite supplications and salutations. They do this for whole hours at a time. After this they go to the Church for services.
I can’t stand it any more. My mind has become tired. But nevertheless I want to become a monk. What will I do? Help me.”
The Elder said “A young girl used to come here and confess her sins. She was in her second grade of Junior High School. She told me once, ‘Father, I have fallen in love with a boy and I can’t get him out of my mind. My mind is constantly on him, on Nick. One would think that Nick is here, (she pointed with her finger to her forehead). I begin to read and Nick is here. I go to eat and to sleep but nothing changes. Nick is here. What can I do father?’ ”
“My child,” I told her, “you are still young. Be pateint, finish school and then Nick will still be here. Now you must put your effort into your lessons. A week passed and she came again.”
“Dear Father, it’s impossible for me to concentrate on my lessons. Constantly all day long my mind and my heart are on Nick. NIck has become an obsession with me and it won’t go away.”
“Did this girl sit on a stool [to concentrate]? Did she force herself to think of Nick? No.
“This happened spontaneously. This was unforced love.
“The same happens with us. When we love Christ with divine love, without any coercion, pressure, or worry, with love we will proclaim His holy name, ‘Lord Jesus Christ.’
“And when the heart is flooded by this divine love, it does not requier us to verbalize the whole prayer, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.'”
Before he finishes the prayer the heart stops at that point out of love and rejoicing.
–Taken from The Divine Flame Elder Porphyrios Lit In My Heart. A short but beautiful book.