WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF APOPHATIC LIVING
Fr. Steven Scherrer
November 18, 2006
The eremitic life seeks personally experienced union with God through silence, solitude, fasting, and prayer. The prayer is both cataphatic (vocal) and apophatic (wordless), but with the emphasis on the higher apophatic type. The eremitic way of life seeks depth in apophatic prayer through apophatic living, which means finding God in renunciation of the pleasures of this world. While we see God in all the things of his good creation, the more advanced path taught by the mystics is to seek him via the renunciation of the pleasures of this world, so as to have an undivided heart to be able to experience him more profoundly. Thus the beginning of the spiritual journey makes use of the cataphatic path of seeing God in the good things of his good creation and in vocal prayer, but the end of this journey is to come into deep union with God through the more advanced apophatic path of finding God in renunciation of the unnecessary pleasures of this world and in wordless mystical prayer.
Many today are interested in contemplative, apophatic prayer, sometimes called centering prayer; but not all are interested in pursuing it within the context of apophatic living, which is the eremitic life of silence, solitude, fasting, and renunciation of the pleasures of this world. It is only by pursuing apophatic prayer within the context of apophatic living that we can have the deepest success in arriving at union with God and growth in mystical prayer.
Apophatic living is ascetical living. It leads to deep apophatic mystical prayer and experience of God’s love. Thus the apophatic or ascetic way of life, which is the eremitical life, leads to apophatic or mystical prayer. The ascetical path is the path that leads us to mysticism. The eremitic life of prayer and fasting in the desert is the ascetical path which leads to deep mystical prayer. Apophatic or ascetic or eremitic living leads to apophatic mystical prayer and union with God. Those who seek to practice contemplative prayer, centering prayer, apophatic prayer, mystical prayer, the prayer of silence, or the prayer of union—all different names for the same thing—should do so within the context of apophatic living.
It is this integration of apophatic prayer within the context of apophatic living that is the focus of this Website.