A true story:
It was an August Sunday in Lent.
I had gone to church, and as usual I would occasionally say the Jesus Prayer, mixed with some "request" I had to God.
"Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me... have mercy on me... on... me"
I stopped praying when the word "me" hit me in the stomach!
"Only for myself am I praying for," I thought to myself.
I was reminded of the words of St. Porphyrios: "Since we are all "one", if you pray for yourself, you pray for everyone."
Again, though, in this case the "me" was 90% about me.
"How is it possible to pray for another with the same fervor as you pray for yourself?" I thought.
It seemed impossible for me to feel for another the same "need to pray" as I felt for myself and my problems.
So I continued: "have mercy on me... have mercy on me", while my mind was only thinking about myself.
The time was passing, "after fear of God..." was heard, I stood in line to take communion. Standing in front of me was a gentleman, around 45... nice looking.
The line was moving slowly, I was still saying the Jesus Prayer "have mercy on ME"
And then, I took a closer look at that gentleman. While we all took small leisurely steps forward, he clutched his waist with each step and grimaced in pain!
He was trying to support himself wherever he could so as not to fall down.
He was in almost excruciating pain in his lower back. But he wouldn't leave the line.
I approached him, stood beside him, and inclined my shoulder towards him:
"I see your back is hurting. I've been through it too. Do you want to hold on to me until we get to the front?
He turned and looked at me with surprise and an invisible smile of joy as if he was relieved.
"No, thank you very much," he answered me. "I'll make it!"
Maybe he was embarrassed to hold on to me. I didn't insist, smiled at him and went back behind him in line.
AND THEN IT HAPPENED TO ME...
I felt a wave of love wash over me for this man, who, despite his pain, was still moving towards the Holy Chalice. He was waking as if he was walking towards his own Golgotha, his own Resurrection.
And all of a sudden, I felt the "Jesus Prayer" I was saying inside of me was for that person TOO! Again "have mercy" I said, but in some strange way the meaning of "ME" was no longer just about myself. It was mostly about that man who was in pain but kept walking towards the God of mercy.
"Have mercy on ME" had unexpectedly, in my heart, taken on the meaning of "Have mercy on US"
And so, almost effortlessly (as God always effortlessly whispers to us) I got an answer to my question: the only way to become "one" is to put ourselves in the place of the other, to feel his own path to Calvary, to give him "our shoulder" to hold on to.
Then, we both enter into Divine Mercy.