Saturday, May 26, 2012

Consecration to the Heart of Christ in Daily Practice

Consecration to the Heart of Christ
in Daily Practice-

The Christification of our Lives: A central theme of Eastern Christianity is that the life's journey is the divinization of our humanity in Christ. The Praxis of Prayer of the Heart is the actualization of this mystery.  Essential to this process is the way we consecrate the space, the activity, and the motivation of our daily human life.  We liturgically celebrate this consecration and Christification of our humanity in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, in sacred time and space we liturgically enact at the altar and Eucharistic table, the movements of the self-offering of our humanity in Christ, and the receiving of the Self-Offering of Divine Life in Christ.

Consecration of Time: To consecrate time is to make it holy, to set it aside as sacred offering. On a practice level, this means we set aside, or consecrate, time at intervals in the day to give ourselves to formal practice. For most this means the time in the early morning, just after rising, before the activities and responsibilities of the day began to ask our attention. At this early hour we give our first attention and responsibility to the vertical relationship with God alone, in solitude, silence, and interiority. This consecrated time of refuge in the Heart of Christ in interior silence and communion is the pivot point for daily life.

It is recommended in the early morning we set aside at least a half hour of silent sitting prayer of the heart time in addition to the devotional, intercessory, and lectio divina prayer we may practice. A similar amount of time in the evening is recommended. For some an evening prayer session may be difficult because of the demands of family. In that event it is recommended that two periods of sitting practice be integrated in one's life in the morning time.

Consecration of Space: In our homes too often we provide space only for what we regard as utilitarian purposes or the habit patterns and cultivated distraction of our lives. It is a vital necessity in the spiritual life to set aside space that is dedicated to the life of inner communion with Christ.  The qualities of this space are quiet, reverence, and symbols which hold the Heart of Christ ever before us as our refuge and home. 

In our sacred space the placement of an altar is recommended. In the mystical Christian tradition the altar as symbolic and liturgical point of contact between human and Divine is a primary way of establishing sacred space. The altar is also the symbol in Judeo-Christian tradition of the Eternal wedding feast of union between God and Creation.  In the Prayer of the Heart practice many people place icons or symbols of Christ on the altar, to help us connect with our purpose and motivations for entering sacred space.  There are many powerful versions of the icon of Christ Pantocrator, which symbolically point to the Heart of Christ and Mind of Christ in the Torah or sacred scripture. For some a Christ candle or light, representing the Light of Christ in our own Heart is also a central expression of our interiority of communion in Christ. This sanctuary of sacred space, where we reverence with silence, respect, and devotional expressions of bowing and respect, becomes our daily space of encounter and renewal of the practice of refuge in the Heart of Christ.

Consecration of Intention: Many motivations can be heard in this culture for undertaking contemplation or meditative prayer. In the Prayer of the Heart practice there is only one motivation, to be fully united and given in love to God in all things.  This motivation is already present within us. It can remain unrealized and unlived, however, unless we continually consecrate our motivation in our practice. We renew our motivation daily in prayerful expression and, as we purify our will, to be wholly given to our singular desire to be one with God in all things. This is the actualization of the Great Commandment of love. Yeshua invites us to love God with our whole, undivided humanity.

 A short prayer of consecration to be invoked at the beginning of our silent sitting prayer time can assist in this purpose.  In this prayer of consecration we connect our consciousness and will with the deeper "willingness" of the Heart. Each time we recite it in sincerity of purpose we are making an ever-deepening commitment to give ourselves over in entirety to the Love of God.  We enact the deep willingness and desire of our outstretched hands that continually bow, open, and offer, and cling to nothing.

Some examples of a prayer of consecration of intention might be: "Lord Yeshua, I give myself to You." "O Beloved Yeshua, I take refuge in You alone."  It is helpful for us to find the language that best expresses this inner intention in a personal way. This may require some listening and attunement, trying on language that fits for each person.  This prayer of consecration may not only be invoked at the beginning of our prayer period each time, but also at intervals during the day when we need to "bring ourselves back".  It is recommended to habitually bring the prayer word as a continual and ongoing anchor throughout all activity in my life. But at intervals in the day, one may take a short pause or breather, settling in deep breathing, and invoke the prayer of consecration.

Another form of consecration of Intention is a daily recitation of a "Vow of Practice." This is recited at the end of the first prayer period of the day. An example of a "Vow of Practice" might be: "O Beloved Yeshua, this day I vow to love you in all things." "Heart of Christ, this day I vow to take refuge always in you." "O Beloved, I will love you in all my being, in all my doing. I will love my neighbor as myself." This vow of practice then becomes the basis of our recollection at the end of the day. The inner desire and willingness, to offer ourselves, our humanity, to be wholly united in love with the Self-Giving Life of Christ in us, is at the root of our own Christification.

In this way in ceaseless Prayer of the Heart I participate in the receiving and offering of Divine Life which is at the heart of existence. In  "Breathing Yeshua" I open myself to the divinization or Christification of my humanity. I receive the gift of God, who is Christ, into my own humanity, and I offer in love the totality of my human life in Christ to the Abba, the Source of Life. Participation then in Divine Life, the Living Water of the Life of Christ, is one continual flow of endless bowing in adoration, endless offering in love.