Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Be Free From Your Complaint

34And (JESUS) said to her, "Daughter, your faith has restored you to health; go in peace, and be free from your complaint." (Mark 5:34)

Really like this translation of the verse from the healing of the woman who suffered 12 years from a hemorrhage.

She had firm belief that if she could just touch Jesus's garment that she would be healed.  She suffered for 12 years and she still believed if she could just touch him.  She somehow found her way in through the crowd pressing against him, and when he was purposefully following the synagogue leader, Jairus, to his home to heal his daughter.

I think that is what the Jesus prayer is becoming for me.  Pressed in by my duties, my weaknesses---especially those, my concerns for others, I need to find my way to Jesus.  I know his touch, his presence, his grace, his Holy Spirit will heal me, restore me, give me peace, and free me from my complaint.

Well, complaints . . . as in plural.  Other translations have diseases in there instead of complaints, and complaints seems to have a more powerful abstraction to make it easier to apply to any and all detractions to physical, emotional, spiritual, and interpersonal relationships' health.  That is why I like this translation.

In my last rambling, unpeaceful, unjoyous, post, I mentioned that when I was feeling the sadness and couldn't shake it, I started to pray the Jesus prayer.  I was praying it aloud, using a prayer rope, bracelet, that those of us in the Religious School at my church were given last Lent.

The sadness, and thoughts that were generating it, were more or less subdued, but I was not brought to peace.  It was good I was praying, but I was only touching the surface of the power of the prayer and was doing it not as a regular discipline, but more like taking couple of ibuprofen when I have an occasional bad headache.

The Jesus Prayer is a recurring theme for me.  I posted about it previously here.  As a young adult out of college, a priest in a confessional taught me this prayer for the first time.

Actually found a book in the public library in the new book section called The Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer: Experiencing the Presence of God and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of an Ancient Spirituality by Norris Chumley.  He goes to four ancient eastern monasteries and talks to monks (3 of the 4 monasteries) and nuns (4th monastery) to provide guidance to us in the west, as to how we can pray the Jesus prayer in a way that will lead us to unceasing communion with God.

As is often the case with the mysterious workings of the Holy Spirit and guidance of my guardian angel, I found the book just over 3 weeks ago, but there it was for me to read at the foot of my bed this past Sunday night, when I really needed it and had the prompting to read it.  Prompting as in: why did I have that prayer rope handy when I was so down Friday night, and why did I walk through the grocery store (Dominick's in greater Chicago area) with no care as to who saw me praying the Jesus Prayer out loud?

On his pilgrimage, the monks assured Norris and his companion that true peace is possible. Not peace as an abstraction, but peace within ourselves, between individuals.

"The first step is entrusting your life in every way to God; surrendering and putting ego aside, making communion with God the primary purpose of your life.

Set aside regular time when you will shut off the phone, the computer, the television, and the radio, and in the stillness give yourself up to silent prayer and contemplation.

By all means, fulfill your obligations to family, friends, work, and neighborhood, but make your actions an extension of your prayer life."

So those are my fresh marching orders.  Very much resonates with me the need to put ego aside, and that the path to this will not be my own self-mastery, but the work of the Holy Spirit within me.

I think it is important that I do this first thing in the morning, even though I am the opposite of a morning person.  That is how the rest of my day can be an extension of my prayer, and an offering to God.  That is how I can get in shape--through regular exercise--so that throughout the day it will become so easy, I hope, to slip into my inner room -- my soul and commune with my Lord.

Here is a quote from Origen (c. 185-254) to help.

"The name of JESUS can still remove distractions from the minds of men, and expel demons, and also take away diseases; and produce a marvelous meekness of spirit and complete change of character, and a humanity, and goodness, and gentleness . . . "

Need that, want that, but most of all want this:

"What is important is to be united with God . . . the important attitude is to remind us that we are in the presence of God.  And to start to speak with him silently, not just by words.  And this communion of our minds with God, it's the beginning of a good prayer, although we are in the cities, or are working in the office.  And it's a question of desire to meet God and to let God share in our life.  And in this sense we can conclude that to say that prayer (the Jesus prayer) is not only our activity; it's the activity of God in us."  (Bishop Daniel Crobotea, Patriarch of Romanian Orthodox Church)

Would love to make this another 1000 word+ post and tell you more of what I learned from this book, and the rich spirituality that can come from praying the Jesus prayer mentally in tune with breathing, but I am back to work now and have to have a little more discipline.  I'll need to break this up into another post.  Hope you'll come back to read more, or find the book yourself.  Maybe it is a new book in your public library too.

Also, it would be good for me to practice it more first!

(breathe in while mentally (heart in the mind) saying) 
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God"
(hold the breath for second or two)
(then while exhaling mentally say)
"Have mercy on me, a sinner." 
Thank you to all who did pray for me after reading my last post, or even after scanning it, because I know it didn't read that well, especially Noreen at Rosary Mom and Anne at Imprisoned in my Bones.


  1. Great post Colleen~honest and heart-felt. I love the Jesus Prayer. I also pray it when feeling anxious, overwhelmed, etc. I like how you connected it to the Woman Who Suffered a Hemorrhage. She unleashed His power through her faith just as we unleash His power when we pray that prayer with sincerity and humility.
    Continued prayers.
    PS- Nicole C. Mullen has a beautiful song called One Touch that tells the story of this woman and all of us, in song. Here's the link for the YouTube video.

  2. I'm looking forward to watching the video Karinann. Thank you for the encouragement, and also for highlighting importance of humility with sincerity. I'll be reflecting on that more.

  3. Hi Colleen, I'm happy to hear you've found peace in praying the Jesus prayer. I've kept you in my prayers!!

    I'm not a morning person either but I've been dropping my son off at school early enough so that I can go to 8am mass. I then stay for the rosary group before starting my day. So, it's not the first thing I do but it's close and I love how it sets the tone for my day!

  4. Noreen, thank you for your comment. I wouldn't say I have found peace, but I think I might be onto the way to finding it---if that makes sense? Mass and rosary are such great way to start the day. It is a blessing that this has worked into your daily routine for you!