Stand, Bow, Prostrate: The Prayerful Body of Coptic Christianity

Monastery of St. AntoniusIn The Clarion Review:

Many in the West tend to look at prayer life as a mental thing: we praise, we thank, we confess to, and we confide in God – with words. And yet, some kind of bodily movement always accompanies our prayers. Indeed, a great body of Christian wisdom has long known that while we think or pronounce our prayers, our bodies, too, are at work expressing and shaping our souls.  In the Coptic tradition it is the Liturgy of the Hours and the Divine Liturgy that become the occasions of formal psycho-physical prayer. Liturgical postures and gestures involve the whole person, for Christian prayer is not merely a mental activity, but rather one that proclaims and seeks to realize the union of body and soul. It recognizes, through the liturgy, that such unity is how God intended to create and save the human person…

… One of the central features of prayer in the Coptic Church, particularly as it developed in monastic circles, is precisely that the body is continuously involved in various actions during prayer. Unceasing prayer has been a feature of Egyptian monasticism from its very beginnings…

Well worth reading on. To do so, click here.

 

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