A note to my dear readers,
God seems to have had me on sabbatical from blog-writing for the last month. I would have forewarned you but I did not know myself that this was going to occur. He does indeed work in mysterious ways.
He continues to be at work in me, for which I am most grateful, and new projects abound (though they do not always get completed!). One of these projects, God willing, will start next week. You are invited.
The plan is to begin an online book reflection group with the book, Orthodox Prayer Life, The Interior Way, by Matthew the Poor. Since this is a book to be prayed rather than simply read, my idea is that we may share it slowly over a longer period of time (how long I do not know).
The starting time is to coincide with the Western Church’s beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday or shortly thereafter. I have noticed that Western and Eastern Church calendars are separated by nearly a month this year. Since the book centers on prayer and not any particular liturgical season, our different calendars should not interfere with how we share the book.
For those not familiar with the author, Matthew the Poor, also known as Father Matta El-Meskeen, began his adult life as a pharmacist who amassed considerable wealth early in life. In 1948, he left the two pharmacies that he owned for the solitary life, spending the next 55 years as a monk in the desert of Egypt. He studied both the Eastern and Western Fathers, revived Egyptian monasticism and wrote 181 books and numerous articles. He died in 2006.
Here is an excerpt from the book’s preface:
“Whenever physical hunger turned cruel against me, I found my gratification in prayer. Whenever the biting cold of winter was unkind to me, I found my warmth in prayer. Whenever people were harsh to me (and their harshness was severe indeed), I found my comfort in prayer. In short, prayer became my food and my drink, my outfit and my armor, whether by night or by day.”
The publisher has graciously given permission for liberal online quoting of the book (but not pages or chapters) so purchase of the book is encouraged. It is available on Amazon (as of this writing) as well as from the publisher. I am setting up a separate site (Here to pray…) for this purpose so that unrelated posts here, should God give me any, do not disrupt the book reflection.
I look forward to sharing this experience, even if there are only a few people. However, please invite anyone that you think might be interested in joining in.
Please pray for me, as I do for you.
Trying to pray, or at least wanting to. But very forgetful. Also wondering what prayer really is. My words to God seem so hollow, formulaic at times, too informal and presumptuous at others. Then very embarrassed at the thought that my prayers should somehow be “better,” as if it were a contest which I could win if I only tried harder. So you see, Mary, what God is giving you to do (through your writing) might also be His gift to me, coming just when I need it. I look forward to hearing from you, Matthew, and others on Prayer
Thanks, Al, for this honest (and humble) perspective on a dilemma that all of us face at times. So hard not to get caught up in evaluating our own prayer… It will be wonderful if you can join in the ongoing reflection on the book. May God bless us all.