United in Prayer

The Ladder of Paradise icon (St. Catherine's M...

The Ladder of Paradise icon

“East and West are the two lungs by which the Church breaths; their unity is essential to the healthy life of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” (Pope John Paul II)

In putting together my post on the Jesus Prayer I discovered reference to levels or stages of prayer.  In the Eastern Church various Orthodox Fathers have described these levels of prayer using different numbers of levels (3, 7, 0r 9).  As I explored these stages of prayer I found that in the Western Church there has also developed over time a description of various levels of prayer.

Both the East and West speak of  three stages and nine levels of prayer.

The Three stages of prayer in the East are:

  • Oral Prayer (prayer of the lips)
  • Focused Prayer (prayer of the mind)
  • Prayer of the Heart

The three stages are more narrowly defined as:

  • The prayer of the lips
  • The prayer of the mouth
  • The prayer of the tongue
  • The prayer of the voice
  • The prayer of the mind
  • The prayer of the heart
  • The active prayer
  • The all-seeing prayer
  • The contemplative prayer

In the Western Church there are also nine levels of prayer grouped into three “ways:”

  • Purgative
    • Vocal Prayer
    • Meditation
    • Affective Prayer
    • Acquired Recollection
  • Illuminative
    • Infused Contemplation
    • Prayer of Quiet
  • Unitive
    • Simple Union
    • Conforming Union
    • Transforming Union

In both the East and the West the purpose of prayer is to come to know God and ultimately achieve union with God.  I know there are those in both the east and west who will focus on the differences here, but what I see is a synergy that can only be found in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Christ that is found in the East and West.

“And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” Luke 13:29

Here is a beautiful teaching on prayer:

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2 Responses to United in Prayer

  1. Sue says:

    It’s ironic that, since we’ve had our little one, we’ve been incorporating more thanksgiving in our prayer as she is learning words while we pray. We help her learn the words and she helps us learn the meaning.

  2. thai seo says:

    hello Interior Catholic , i read your blog , this a nice blog and perfect. Good for me. best review for Uncategorized and Religion and Spirituality content. i going to visit to read and comment your website.

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