Repent: A Cry of Hope

In the opening scene, and recurring many times throughout the 2006 Russian film, The Island, a monk named Anatoly cries out in anguish over and over again, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” He is tortured by an evil he committed many years before, but makes no attempt to lessen his culpability. He simply cries tears of repentance and sorrow for his sin, with this prayer on his every breath.

Anatoly’s prayer is not a morbid delight in his own pain. Rather, it is a cry of hope. This prayer, central to the spiritual life of Eastern Christians, is known as the Jesus Prayer. Typically, the Jesus Prayer is prayed on a cord called a Chotki, which looks a lot like a rosary. Based on the Gospels, the Jesus Prayer is an acknowledgement of one’s poverty and sinfulness, but also of God’s omnipotence, his power to heal the sinner (cf. Lk 18:10-14). We can cry out in hope knowing that God’s grace is sufficient for us, “for power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor 12:9). The Russian spiritual classic, The Way of a Pilgrim, provides an excellent introduction to this prayer.

When we pray this prayer we should slowly breath in, and say, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,” and then slowly exhale saying, “Have Mercy on me a sinner.”

Lord I need you, you are perfect love.

Lord I need you, you are the only who can save me.

Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

I am empty; powerless; like a child who is unable to do any good on my own.

Only you are perfect love; full of mercy and compassion.

I cannot love on my own, you love others through me.

Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

I find myself unable to forgive others.

I find myself unable to forgive myself.

I am so impatient with my own faults

I have such a difficult time believing that you can really forgive me

Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Yet I begin to understand, you came to fulfill all justice.

I cry out because I think there is no justice, yet I see that the cross is perfect justice, that it is perfect mercy.

You Lord are the Good God and all you do is good.  

The Body of Christ is suffering; and when one part suffers the whole body suffers (cf. 1 Cor 12:26). Let us repent of our own sins and pray for those who are hurting. In this small way, we find the grace to hope.

Photo by Br. Michael Solomon O.P.

From Dominicana Journal