Father Boris Bobrinskoy continues his discussion on the Inner Eucharist in the sixth chapter of The Compassion of the Fatherby looking at the common principles that unite the Eucharist and the prayer of the heart.

Both the Eucharist and the prayer of the heart have an “exclusive” aspect which involves a “setting apart” of both the liturgical community and the one who prays. Just as we are called to lay aside earthly cares in the Liturgy, so also inner prayer involves a withdrawal to the cell of the heart and a laying aside of thoughts.

But both ecclesial prayer and personal prayer also have an inclusive aspect, involving intercession for the world, and a carrying of the world that is both filial and maternal.

During the invocation of the blessed Name of Jesus, a content dark and ambiguous rises from the depths. The heart is purified and freed from the passions and their roots; the forces of evil are exorcised to the extent of the encounter with the Name of Jesus that consumes, purifies, and sanctifies. This deep healing is not limited to the praying individual, but spreads around him or her like a sweet-smelling perfume. Sufferings, pains, preoccupations, and passions good or bad fill the human heart, and they cannot be left at the outer door of the church. If unheeded, these invade us to such a degree that prayer ultimately becomes impossible.

Therefore, it is important to present to the Lord a heart which is “falling apart at the seams” with the misery and suffering of the world and to purify it and exorcise it. The more the heart is purified and freed from the forces of evil, the more it echoes the suffering found in the heart of the Master who had compassion on the crowds and the sick. Through purification, it images the Master’s own heart. (115)

Moreover, both the Eucharist and the prayer of the heart have an apostolic aspect which involves a being sent into the world. In the “liturgy after the liturgy” we see the relationship between the Sunday, which is both the first day of the week and the eighth day which represents fullness, and the rest of the week. During the week we both prepare for the Eucharist and live out its fullness.

The rhythms of the eucharistic liturgy have been compared to the flux and reflux of the blood in the anatomical heart. There is an alternation between the systole – the contraction of the heart for the expansion of the blood that penetrates the organs, the cells, and reoxygenates them – and the diastole where, on the contrary, the heart becomes larger. When we leave the eucharistic banquet – where the Name of Jesus has become our food and where we are absorbed in Him – the Blood of Christ flows in our veins and irrigates our cells. When our heart beats in unison with the heart of the Master, we are – in the image of the apostles at Pentecost – sent back into the world to announce the wonderful things of God. …

As in the Eucharist, the encounter with God in the prayer of the heart must pass into another mode, a mode in which we present God to others. In benediction and with compassion, we lay the Name of Jesus on every creature, our own inner world, and our remembrance of the past and the future. (115-116)

In addition, both the eucharistic Liturgy and the prayer of the heart ascribe a key role to the Holy Spirit. It is a misunderstanding to see the prayer of the heart as exclusively Christ-centred. Prayers to Christ

constitute, in reality, the Pentecostal turning point, the basic gift of the Spirit: “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit” (Cor 12:3). Consequently, the motion of the Holy Spirit causes the heartfelt urge to call Jesus “Lord,” and to desire His Lordship to live in the heart. (117)

It is the Spirit who engraves the Name of Jesus in our hearts so that Christ is formed in us.

Here we touch upon the deep meaning of spiritual fatherhood for those who seek to be awakened to the mystery of Christ through the grace of the Holy Spirit. The mystery of Christ is like a fiery name, a name of blood inscribed in the heart. The Spirit hides from view in the names of Jesus, which He makes present through the invocation of the same name in the heart. (117)

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