Father Thomas Hopko often said, “All is well.” He would quote Saint Therese of Lisieux who said, “For the heart that loves, all is well.” But, at first glance, all doesn’t seem well. We need only look at the front page of any newspaper, or the insides of our hard hearts. All doesn’t seem well. That’s the point. We are called to see through reality to the other side. We don’t deny evil but we do try to see God working to make all to be well, here and now. All is well because Christ died and is risen. To say that all is well means that, for me, all is sufficient in the present moment. To say that all is well is a statement of faith and trust in our Lord.
We can only say that all is well if we have an active, inner relationship with Christ. God calls us to be “still,” clearly in Exodus 14:14 where He says, “the Egyptians you see today you will never see again. I will fight for you, you have only to be still.” In Psalm 46 we are told, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Again, Father Hopko in his 55 Maxims, suggests that every Christian spend 20 to 30 minutes a day in meditation, that is being silent and trying to be still. I suggest that each of us commit to five or ten or twenty or thirty minutes of sitting in meditation, and doing this daily. We can set a timer, sit comfortably, and gently repeat a short prayer in harmony with awareness of our breath.
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware says that such meditation is transformative, changing us at a deep level. The theology that I was taught is that when we speak prayer interiorly, in that act we are listening to God. How that works is, of course, a mystery.
Meditation is our attempt to put time aside to be present to Christ, to allow Him to speak to us.
The Jesus Prayer
Can the Jesus Prayer be the inner prayer of daily meditation? Yes. Can some other prayer, “Lord, have mercy,” or the single word, “Jesus,” serve as our mediation prayer? Yes.
The Jesus Prayer is the classical prayer for Orthodoxy through fifteen centuries. Some teach that the Jesus Prayer is a synthesis of the Nicene Creed. Here is a link from Saint Vladimir’s Seminary to an article I wrote on the Jesus Prayer.
In conclusion, we need to do what we can to allow Christ and His love into our lives. And we need each other as we walk the walk of faith. Then we might say “All is well.”
Dr. Albert Rossi teaches courses in pastoral theology at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY. He was a member of the SCOBA Commission on Contemporary Social and Moral Issues. He has written numerous articles on psychology and religion and published a book, Can I Make a Difference: Christian Family Life Today. He is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of New York. Dr. Rossi has a brief, bi–weekly podcast on Ancient Faith Radio titled “Becoming a Healing Presence.”