march downfalls, and some thoughts on prayer

Some brothers asked Agathon which good work required the most effort. He replied, “No labor is more difficult than prayer. Demons understand that prayer is a path to God. They will do everything possible to hinder this journey. Prayer is like fighting a war.

By Way of the Desert, entry for March 4

This month literally brings with it the beginning of Lent for us Orthodox folk, which is a beautiful as well as a stressful time. It always feels as if there is more to be concerned with, when really this time is about focusing on the one thing needful.

I have been doing a lot of reading for school, mostly Pindar with a side of St. John Chrysostom and a bit of Herodotus thrown in for good measure. My favorite is the Philokalia, which I am working through in a non-linear fashion because apparently that is how one is supposed to do it. If anyone wants to know this order, please let me know through email or whatever, because this way definitely beats cracking open Volume 1 and starting with, “There is among the passions an anger of the intellect, and this anger is in accordance with nature.” Oof. Start in the middle of Volume 4, my friends. It is much easier.

For personal reading, yesterday I (re)read from start to finish C. S. Lewis’ classic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I would say it was a delight, which it was, but it was also very challenging, because I’ve been in a bit of a rough patch recently spiritually. It’s all good and probably means I’m growing, but you know when an allegorical children’s book is challenging, things are rough.

On the same spiritual front, I’m about halfway through a book called The Divine Flame, which is a book about a divine flame that St. Porphyrios lit in one man’s heart, which inspired him to become a monk. I’m obsessed with St. Porphyrios; he’s absolutely wonderful and has been very active in my life, so this book is very dear to me. I actually got the copy as a gift when I was visiting his monastery (the Hesychasterion of the Holy Transfiguration), which is near my monastery in Greece.

I’ve also been reading Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea for my book club. It’s a literary ode to the story, which despite its relative lack of a plot I don’t mind overmuch, but one does have to acclimate to her writing style. Alongside that, I’m (still) reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. I really should finish it, but school and spiritual reading has been taking priority recently.

After writing all that it occurs to me that I’m reading a lot of things simultaneously. I’ve always done this, it keeps me entertained. Since the whole going on brain meds thing has happened, I’m at least a lot better at finishing them, which is nice.

As far as crafting projects go, I’m working on the same sweater and the same embroidery and many of the other same projects as recent posts will mention. I’ve also started a Honey Study Hat (pattern by Andrea Mowry, because apparently I’m addicted to her patterns) in a lovely gray wooly wool that didn’t have a label. I will say, brioche stitch is much easier than I thought.

Whether it is at night or during the day that God grants you the gift of praying with a pure intellect, undistractedly, put aside your own rule, and reach towards God with all your strength, cleaving to Him. And He will illumine your heart about the spiritual work which you should undertake.

A Discourse on Abba Philimon, from the Philokalia

P.S. I’m sorry about the lack of pictures, but my room is a mess and I really couldn’t be bothered to take any. So writing it is.

(linking with Ginny’s Yarn Along)

4 thoughts on “march downfalls, and some thoughts on prayer

  1. My mama loves to retell the story of her discovery, when I was in third grade, that I was reading 8 books at once. I have that brain that works harder to do one thing at once than to do too many at once. What impresses me about you is the weight of the books you mention here – these are substantial books, full of content. I admire your attentiveness, to keep on with them. The last time I tried to be in a book club, I finally confronted the fact that I am no good at book clubs. At all. It’s a violent struggle to pay attention to a book that doesn’t truly interest me, and even I can’t predict what is going to be interesting. All of which is to say, good strength to you in the battle. May it be blessed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You worded that so perfectly – it is so much harder for me to do one thing at once than to do many things at once! I really struggle when I don’t have a thousand things going on.
      I’m super selective about book clubs, knowing full well that it’s the book just as much as the people that make it worth it. I really love the discussion though because it reminds me of a seminar-style class. It’s funny, though, because I never pegged myself as a book club person until this one came up in my life, and we read a John Green novel. It has been so rewarding spiritually and intellectually for me!
      And thank you! Good strength to you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.