Behind this Exercise
It consists of repeating many
times this short prayer: “My Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me, a
sinner.” This is all the practice consists of. Although it seems simple,
it needs some effort of concentration and a lifting of the heart to God.
These prayers are called “arrow-like prayers” by the Church for they
are, in a manner of speaking, spiritual arrows that penetrate the thick
veil that can exist between man and God, rises to the pinnacle of heaven
and enters the sanctuary of the Lord and is most effective.
When you repeat this prayer with concentration, you will experience the
1.. You will feel that the Lord is opening you eyes while you talk to
2. You will realize your sins and weaknesses, and lay them in His Hands.
3. You will humble your heart as you ask for mercy and the forgiveness
of the many sins you commit against the Lord, against others, and
4. Your heart rejoices when you feel the consolations of God’s Spirit
who comes near you and comforts you. You then feel that the Lord Jesus
Christ enters into your feelings and emotions.
1. You should choose an
appropriate time to carry out this exercise. You can, for example,
repeat this prayer several tens of times in a few minutes before the
morning prayers (Prime), before the evening prayers (Vespers), when you
lie down for a nap at noon, or when you go to bed at night. On all these
occasions, you either get
ready for prayer or you protect your heart and mind from being immersed
in thoughts or images of evil.
2. You will initially feel somewhat bored and that it is a monotonous
routine. This feeling, however, will disappear if you concentrate on
what you are saying and if you visualize the Lord Jesus Christ before
3. At the beginning, the words will be uttered by your mouth; then your
mind will pay attention to them and you will feel that you are engaged
in a humble dialogue with the Lord because of your sins. Next, your
feelings are stirred and the prayer is entrenched in your heart in joy
and the awareness of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. What is joyful is that this “storing up” in your heart will be very
important for your daily life. You will discover that this prayer will
leap from your heart to your lips unawares and you will find yourself
saying: “My Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me...”. This will alert
you to the presence of the Lord and to the possibility of repeating it
several times. If you are in a sinful situation, you will correct it
quickly, and if you are upset for any reason, you will quickly be
comforted by the Lord.
of the Exercise
The significance of any
spiritual exercise resides its purpose. Is the aim of the exercise to
become a spiritual hero who does exercises that other young people do
not do, or is the aim simply to unite with the Lord Jesus Christ because
of your pressing need for Him, to forgive your sins, sanctify your life,
comfort your spirit as you travel in the vale of tears? This is the
objective, the need of a weak man for a loving God, for a spiritual
breath of fresh air or a dose that energizes your feelings for the Lord
Jesus Christ who did not begrudge you His divine blood.
The validity of the objective, therefore, is basic and the guidance of
your spiritual father guarantees the clarity of the purpose and the
soundness of the way.
This exercise has its roots
in the gospel because it is taken from the prayer of the tax collector
who stood afar off and would not so much as lift his eyes to heaven, but
smote his breast saying: “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk. 18: 13),
and who went down to his house justified. Its roots are also in the Old
Testament, for David, the prophet, said: “O, how I love Your Name; it is
my meditation all the day” (Ps.119:97), and “I remember Your Name in the
night, O Lord” (Ps. 119: 55).
Has not St. Peter said: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise
up and walk....... Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no
other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
(Acts 3: 6, 4: 12)?
Did not Isaiah the prophet say: “The desire of our soul is for Your
Name” (Isa. 26: 8)? It is the name of salvation: “and you shall call His
name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1: 21).
It was an exercise which St.
Augustine advised his disciples to do asking them to repeat always: “ My
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me; my Lord Jesus Christ, help me; I
praise You, My Lord Jesus Christ.” The Psalmody gives us the same
feeling when we repeat continuously: “My Lord Jesus Christ, my good
What is important is that the call to the Lord Jesus Christ be repeated,
if only in various short requests as the need arises, and any number of
times in a flexibility that aims at bringing us into the presence of
God. The idea is not to follow fixed way or repeat it an exact number of
times, but to say it in spiritual freedom. When we feel we want to speak
differently with the Lord, we leave this prayer and talk to Him about
what we want. It is only a “key” that enables us to enter to the Lord.
A State of
The fathers say that this
exercise puts you in a state of “tranquility of the heart”, or
spiritual, intellectual, psychological, and nervous peace, which we need
urgently in our era which is full of causes for worry.
What is most wonderful about this exercise is that it goes with you
everywhere: when you are among people, on the bus or waiting for the
bus, before going to bed and on getting up. It is an exercise for every
time and every place.
Let us repeat together, my
“My Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me; my Lord Jesus Christ, help me;
I praise you my Lord Jesus Christ.”
May the Lord be with you.