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Saturday, November 12, 2022

Always Think of God, and Your Mind Will Become Heaven

Written by  Dean Barker
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Always Think of God, and Your Mind Will Become Heaven

Today, Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Nilus of Sinai. This great saint, also known as St. Nilus the Wise, St. Nilus the Faster, and St. Nilus the Ascetic, was a disciple of St. John Chrysostom. He was married with two children, but after both had grown up, his wife took the daughter to a convent, and St. Nilus took his son to a monastery. Both St. Nilus and his son Theodulos would become priests. 

St. Nilus is known for many things; his rigorous asceticism and fasting, his defense of St. John Chrysostom, and his writings against heresy and in favor of the religious life. However, like many Byzantine saints, he is known for his profound spiritual wisdom. The Eastern Rite, particularly in the monastic life, has produced countless quotes of infinite wisdom to help us in the spiritual life. A quote of St. Nilus which resonates deeply with me is “Always think of God, and your mind will become Heaven.”

Far too often, we forget that the union with God that comes in Heaven is only a perfection of a union that already exists on Earth. Thus, if we fail to think of God, our minds will become Hell. Our minds are an extension of our souls, which means that if God is in our souls, He will naturally be on our minds. If He is not at all on our minds, it must mean He is not in our souls. As often as one is in the state of grace and has God on his mind, he is a living saint. Union with God on Earth is the only way to be eternally united with Him in Heaven.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This short prayer, which is even older than the Rosary, helps to humble the mind and center it on Our Divine Lord.

How does one always think of God? St. Paul the Apostle tells us that we should “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Douay Rheims). The simplest way to do this is through the recitation of the Jesus Prayer; “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This short prayer, which is even older than the Rosary, helps to humble the mind and center it on Our Divine Lord. By confessing the holiness of Christ and admitting his own sinfulness and need of pardon, man makes himself close to the Sacred Heart, which is prone to forgive and sanctify the repentant soul.

This prayer can be said on prayer ropes or bracelets, which contain 25, 33, 50 or even 100 knots. It can also be said on a Rosary, or even on one’s ten fingers. We can say it aloud, or simply recite it in the mind. The method of praying this prayer or the exact number of repetitions really doesn’t matter, what matters is uniting oneself with our ever-merciful King. The Eastern monks have been known to say this prayer thousands of times a day, and by focusing on the words of the prayer, they subject themselves completely to the lordship and mercy of Christ. It is very easy to pray many times, and does wonders for the sanctification of the mind.

While St. Nilus was a father, a monk and a priest, not all of us can do more than one vocation; we might even struggle to fulfill the one we have. However, that does not mean we cannot have a profoundly deep prayer life like him wherever we are. Through the humble recitation of the Jesus Prayer, which can be recited at all times in all places, we keep ourselves focused on Christ, and will therefore live in Heavenly peace. By doing this, we accomplish the great maxim of St. Nilus: “Always think of God, and your mind will become Heaven.”

St. Nilus of Sinai, Pray for Us!

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Last modified on Wednesday, November 9, 2022