Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer-A Journey Through Eastern Monasticism

I have recently purchased the book and companion DVD titled “Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer.” If you are in any way interested in the Eastern monastic traditions of the Desert Fathers, and those that continued on in the East afterward, then you will enjoy this book and DVD. An Orthodox priest the Very Rev. Dr. John McGuckin and Dr. Norris J. Chumley take you on an enlightening journey, providing superb and rare film footage from within desert monasteries such as St. Anthony’s, and St. Catherine’s on Sinai. There is also excellent photography and audio taken from their visit to Votopedi monastery on Mt. Athos. You will also be treated with many other beautiful images such as the Meteora monastery which is perched high atop a rock formation in Greece, then onto Romania where you will visit secluded monasteries and hear the words of spiritual wisdom on the Jesus Prayer. The journey continues on to the Ukraine, and finally ending in Russia where you are given a rare glimpse of the Russian Patriarch Kirill, celebrating the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Holy Trinity.

The DVD contains many brief interviews with monks as well as film footage of the Divine Liturgy and the monks at prayer. The video moves along as a travelogue, peppered throughout with nuggets of knowledge explaining the development and expansion of Eastern monasticism. It is not overly doctrinal and focuses equally on the historical and biographical elements of the monks and monasteries as it does on the “Jesus Prayer.” The spiritual messages given throughout apply to Catholics as well. The first being that we all need to devote time to silence, where we can offer our heartfelt prayers up to the Lord. The second is realizing that this will lead us to being able to see God and remain in prayer with Him in our everyday lives, whether we are at work or at home.

The book supplements the video nicely and goes into more detail in some places than the DVD does and I really enjoyed them both. If you want to break away and enjoy a spiritual journey to these astonishing places then I cannot recommend them more. Go to for more information. I ran across the book first in Barnes and Noble. I then ordered the DVD from the website and got it in about a week.  Enjoy!


norris said...

Thanks so much for your kind words. You'll be in my prayers, as I join you in the Jesus Prayer.

Norris Chumley, Ph.D.
Executive Producer/Director/Co-Author

James Bellisario said...

You are welcome! I hope that you will be dong more projects like this one in the future.

Jennifer said...

A group of Catholic and Protestant women in our area have been watching the DVD "The Jesus Prayer" and have love it. Your summary is excellent. Our reading in the Orthodox tradition is truly renewing our spiritual lives as Catholics. We have been reading Kyriakos Markides' books on Orthodoxy - beginning with "The Mountain of Silence."