This series of reflections is on The Jesus Prayer: The Ancient Desert Prayer that Tunes the Heart to God by Frederica Mathewes-Green.
For this section, Khouria Frederica continues to draw from a treatise, About the Jesus Prayer and the Lord’s Grace, by Archbishop Anthony Golynsky-Mihailovsky (AD 1889-1976). The third stage is described as follows.
The third level, according to Abp. Anthony, is Mental-Heart Active Prayer, and in it the mind prays within the heart; “the entire inner man prays.” The site where attention rests “appears naturally in the depth of the breast, in the region of the heart.” It is still “active” because the person still follows her own will sometimes, God’s will other times; her whole being has not yet been united in the service of God.
It’s at this stage, when the active mind engages with the perceiving nous, that the extent of the threads of evil and sin within ourselves begins to become apparent. Our minds begin to find and expose the deep roots of the compulsions which drive us. When we work through those battles and corresponding confrontations with the evil one, the mind becomes free to descend into the heart. Abp. Anthony writes:
The Lord Himself, residing in the heart secretly up to this point, starts dwelling openly and with the full authority in this shelter that was destined for Him from the very beginning, and rests there on his throne.
Khouria Frederica writes that the next three levels or stages that Abp. Anthony describes are beyond her comprehension. That means they are certainly beyond mine as well. These three beginning stages may well take years or decades, though, and are more than enough to keep us occupied.