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Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer

4.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Leave your busy, stressful world for a moment to discover the ancient and powerful Jesus Prayer. Known by generations of eastern Christians, this mystical prayer has been in use since the Apostles, but remains largely unknown in the west. For the first time on film, desert hermits, monks and nuns reveal the simple prayer, bringing us into their private cells, caves and sanctuaries in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and Russia. Narrated by Dr. Norris J. Chumley and Rev. Dr. John McGuckin.

Review

...earnest, understated and profoundly respectful...the value of silence as a path to inner peace, a notion to which any Manhattan dweller can surely attest. --The New York Times

Critics Pick: Hermits, monks, and nuns share their practices, inviting us into their private sanctuaries throughout the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. --New York Magazine

Greatly aided by the echoing liturgical chants of indigenous monks, Chumley s richly illuminated imagery seeks to capture mystical experiences deeply rooted in firsthand immersion in specific places... fascinating artifacts and vistas... --Variety

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Norris Chumley, Rev Dr. John A. McGuckin
  • Directors: Norris Chumley
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Passion River
  • DVD Release Date: May 3, 2011
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004O63TQI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,193 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." These are the simple words of the Jesus prayer, used since the earliest Christian times as a means of quieting the mind, stilling the body, and opening the heart to God. This ancient prayer is now the subject of a new two-hour documentary, eight years in the making, by priest-historian Very Rev. John McGuckin and author-filmmaker Dr. Norris Chumley. "Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer" traces the steps of the two men as they visit hermitages, monasteries, and churches in five Orthodox countries, seeking spiritual insights from the monastics who have practiced the prayer for many decades.

The film opens in the Egyptian desert and shows us the tiny cave of St. Anthony, the third-century monk considered the father of Christian monasticism, and the oldest practicing monastery in the world named for him. It continues to the spectacular St. Catherine's Monastery in Sinai and journeys to Greece, Romania, Ukraine, and the majestic Holy Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Moscow. Along the way we meet several monks and nuns who reflect on the Jesus prayer, monasticism, and the Christian life. They include a young Ukrainian raised Communist and now eagerly serving the church as a priest, a widely esteemed Romanian elder, blind since birth and author of numerous theological books, who passed away shortly after he was interviewed for the film, and a young nun at an "urban" monastery in Kiev, Ukraine, who touchingly described sensing God's presence right next to her during prayer.

Richly photographed and enhanced by Byzantine and Slavic chanting, the film beautifully portrays the splendor of Orthodox worship and spirituality.
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Format: DVD
After watching the the 60-minute special that aired on PBS, I decided to buy the director's version. Longer in length of course, and worth every penny.

The DVD gives regular everyday people a chance to hear from some of the holiest people, and see some of the holiest places on earth.

Most of us will never get a chance to travel to even half of these monasteries, much less get the amazing opportunity to hear from people whose lives are fully, completely, dedicated to God. They have within them such peace, such joy, such love for mankind. It's really something worth seeing.

Thank you to the producers for all the effort put into this production.
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I am very grateful for this movie and wish to support it so that there may be others. It is a very interesting travelogue visiting many of the traditional Orthodox prayer centers. There are helpful interviews with women and men monastics about monasticism and the Jesus Prayer.

In my impression, there was something a little odd about the movie. For instance, there seemed to be an insistence by mostly Fr. John that the Jesus prayer is about "secret knowledge". The way it kept being brought up seemed almost like a marketing angle to appeal to seekers.

The other odd thing was Mount Athos. The segment on the Holy Mountain was surprisingly brief given the importance of Athos for hesychasm and the accessibility of English speaking monks like Professor Nick Constas aka Fr. Maximos. Fr. John must have known him prior to his becoming a monk. It was so brief and superficial that it was distracting and it seemed like there was an untold back story.

Lastly, while the movie was a nice, basic introduction to Orthodox monasticism and the Jesus Prayer, the focus seemed really to be on monasticism rather than the Jesus Prayer and so the title is slightly misleading. There are moments of real light in the interviews with some of the monastics. However, the overall effect of the movie, to me, was a bit disjointed and staccato. Perhaps that is inherent in the kind of travelogue/interview form of the movie. It was nice to see and hear women and men of depth and love for the Lord. However, there was not much progression of depth in understanding/practice of the Jesus Prayer as the movie developed. That lack of progression or development was a bit disappointing to me.
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Format: DVD
"Read the book" might provide a summary for my review of the film.

The script of this film leads one to view the rich legacy of Prayer of the Heart from the perspective of varied Monasteries and holy sites wherein the faithful have gathered to recite the Name that is above all names. In addition, the film script instructs one in how to pray and why the Prayer is for all Christians, and not only monks and nuns. It might seem simple enough to combine both threads in the same film script.

But, in practice, the combination creates moments of perceptual and conceptual imbalance for persons viewing the film who have little or no prior experience with the Prayer of the Heart, or Jesus Prayer. Why? Because all of the film's scenes pertain to monks and nuns reciting the Prayer of the Heart and to introducing the history, architecture, holy relics and icons of their monastic homes.

There are exquisite scenes in the film, which provide compelling reason to view the film not once only. For example, the views from elevated heights around the Monasteries of St. Anthony in Egypt and St. Catherine in the Sinai convey the silence and confidence of the Jesus Prayer. Combining anecdotes from history and hagiography, as retold by Father John McGuckin and Dr. Norris Chumley, such scenes as filmed from these heights capture the sound of wind and slightly obscured images below and become part of praying the Jesus Prayer for anyone viewing the film.

In my opinion, I benefited most from the scenes of Romanian Monasteries. I attribute the benefit that I received to Fr. John's formation as Orthodox presbyter inside the Romanian Church and, indeed, one of the Monasteries visited in the film's journey.
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