The Prayer of Recollection

Deep calls unto deep. The deepest part of ourselves participates in the deepest aspect of the Divine. When we look inside ourselves and see the face of God, we are remembering our true nature. The sacred within us awakens from its slumber and calls out to God. The act of turning inward to encounter the deep is called the prayer of recollection.

Recollection is a gathering together of our wandering mind, a consolidation of all our mental faculties. It is a retreat into the solitude of our inner sanctuary. From within that solitude we are free to direct every aspect of our being towards the image of God, the Holy of Holies in the temple of our hearts. 

Recollection is free from distraction. It is like an eagle soaring high above the clouds. There is nothing up there to distract it from its goal. At that glorious height the eagle is free to put its own powers into operation, nothing obstructs it and nothing alters its course. Recollection is to see with a singular eye, a singular purpose. The recollected soul has set aside all other concerns and occupations in order to be attentive to itself and its relationship with God. 

In the prayer of recollection we turn inwards to gaze upon the image of eternity which God has planted within us. We enter into the depths of the infinite, the deep waters of the mind of Christ. There is no limit to the beauty contained therein. The image of God which we bear is Christ himself, who is both truth and life.

When we come to know Christ dwelling in our hearts we know the invisible God of whom he is the image. The Spirit of God teaches us everything so that we remember the things which Christ has commanded us, the virtues which God prepared beforehand so that we may walk in them. In Christ the fullness of God dwells with joy and through his incarnation into human flesh God has reconciled every creature under Heaven. For, as we are told in Colossians, Christ contains and gives life to every creature without exception.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Christ contains all things within himself and in him all things are held together. The visible creation is the material universe – stones, fish, and stars. The invisible creation is the spiritual aspect of the universe – the angels in Heaven who give form to what is visible. Both our animal and angelic natures are contained within the image of God. All beings are one in Christ Jesus and so the recollected soul remembers the unity of being in whom and for whom it is created. Eriugena spoke about this when he said,

“True knowledge of all these is implanted in human nature although it is concealed from her that she has it until she is restored to her pristine and integral condition, in which with all clarity she will understand the magnitude and the beauty of the image that is fashioned within her, and will no longer be in ignorance of anything which is established within for she will be encompassed by the divine Light and turned towards God in Whom she will enjoy the perspicuous vision of all things.” (trans by Sheldon-Williams and O’Meara)

The knowledge and vision of all things which recollection affords us is not the same sort of knowledge you gain from reading books. When we remember the magnitude and beauty of the image fashioned within us, it is not the same sort of remembering you do for an exam in school.

The vision of all things in Christ is a spiritual knowledge, one which transcends the realm of thoughts and ideas. We encounter the unity of being in an experiential way and our minds are lifted up beyond themselves into an understanding which cannot be communicated with words.

Therefore, the prayer of recollection is both a gathering together of our mental faculties and a deep remembering. By turning every aspect of our being inwards, we encounter the image of God, which is Christ himself. In that encounter, we remember the unity of all things in which and for which we have been created.

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