This important collection of papers contains the proceedings of the conference held by the Friends of Mount Athos at Madingley Hall, Cambridge, in March 2019. It will kindle many happy memories for the participants. This conference addressed the heart of Athonite life – that is, prayer in its many manifestations. The resulting volume makes the richness of Athonite spiritual tradition readily accessible, supported by illustrations of contemporary icons, and also of Byzantine music for monastic chanting of the Psalms. It includes a comprehensive bibliography and it stands in the well-established series of such publications by the Friends. These are listed here to encourage their purchase and circulation by Friends and others, as they constitute a highly significant record of one of the most important developments in worldwide Christianity in the last fifty years.
The book explores many dimensions of this mystery of Athonite prayer, beginning with the deceptively simple question, ‘what is prayer?’ Subsequent papers consider various aspects of prayer as practised on Mount Athos, both in public and in private: the prayer of the church and the prayer of the cell; prayer when working and prayer when painting icons; the musical tradition of prayer and also the poetic tradition of prayer, culminating in the Jesus Prayer or the ‘prayer of the heart’, which is the foundation of the current renewal of monasticism on Athos and an important key to its influence in Orthodox Christianity and beyond.
The book is edited by The Revd Douglas Dales and Dr Graham Speake, and its contributors include Fr Stephen Platt, Abbot Elisaios of Simonopetra, Fr Maximos Constas, Professor Elizabeth Jeffreys, Aidan Hart, Dr Dimitri Conomos, Abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi, and Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia.