Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Hardest Task

A friend of mine recently became pastor of a small church. The minister with oversight for the area said the main problem they will have is prayer and I assuming he meant getting people to practise it. The main problem, please note, would not be the difficult member who creates havoc, not the roof which needs mending and not the lack of attendance. This is such an irony. You don't have to pay to pray, you don't have to leave your home and no one knows whether you succeed or fail. Yet, why is it so hard to do?

Perhaps one reason is that you rarely get any praise for praying. I know a little shy Italian lady who prays regularly in my local church. I am not sure if the clergy notice her but I have never heard them mention her. She seems to keep to regular times and draws no attention to herself. No one pats her on the back and says well done. She is never wins 'parishioner of the year' awards. 'But more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of'' the poet Tennyson said. Who knows what is achieved by God with this little lady through prayer. They say English is a language of prepositions and I am careful of using them here. God invites us to join in His work through the medium of prayer. Now, I hope I have got it right. Now why are there so few who accept his invitation?

Spiritual discourse always keeps the soul free from self- esteem, for it gives every part of the soul a sense of light, so that it no longer needs the praise of men. St Diadochos

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Passions

The word passion has changed in meaning. It is now a positive word. If you are passionate about your profession you attack it with gusto. Passion can summon up the tango, steamy tropical nights, hot blooded lovers, Italian divas singing opera and on and on. Once however it had negative connotations. The passions were things in your head and heart that you struggled against. To the writers of early Christian works the passions were what kept you from living a holy and God centred life.
All who want to follow God seriously will probably be up against the 'passions' they suggested.

..those who are beginning the life of holiness should try to hinder the activity of the passions. At this stage they are still driven frantic by the pleasures that accompany the passions.. The Philokalia

So if like everyone who is trying to serve God you are being distracted by anger, lust, envy, avarice how do we deal with it? To try and suppress the passions is not the way. Like water in a shoe- it will find a way out somehow. The 'trick' the same writer of the above suggests is to have an opposing passion- the love of God and His wisdom. When you burn yourself you are so taken up by the pain of the burn your mind is concentrated on this to the exclusion of everything else. Replace the burning pain with the fire of God in your heart!

Thus opposing passions are mutually exclusive and will never unite the Philokalia continues.

Recentering your passions will probably not happen overnight. God perhaps will want to know you mean business first.
It is good to know there is a game plan though. Go well.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

All that glitters

This photo always catches my eye. I took it a couple of years ago. A firm were promoting a product or service in the City of London. I can't remember what was being advertised but I remember the girls!! Like any man I am drawn by a pretty face and a shapely figure. I suppose also it was the incongruity of these glittery showgirls amongst the soberly dressed outside Liverpool Street Station.

Mackerel can be caught on just a hook covered in silver paper. We are drawn to the brightly coloured and our eye is drawn by the beautiful.

I was reading the Philokalia today which is a collection of writings mainly by monks. There is great wisdom in this book. One of its features is to try and keep those in religious life from being distracted by things that glitter both in front of the eyes and in the memory.

We do not appreciate how much better the blessings of the spiritual world are than the tawdry attractions of this present world, which dazzle us with their specious glory and draw all our desire to them. In the absence of what is better, what is worse will take its place and be held and be held in honour. If only we had a deeper understanding of the realities of the divine world, we would not be taken in by the attractions of this world. St Neilos the Ascetic

St Neilos alludes to a technique that might help should you want to not be dominated by such distractions if you find them unhelpful. If you are drawn by the superficial try and fill your thoughts with the substantial, something better.

Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life. Proverbs 4.23
Don't try and repress the thoughts as this will make things worse but just try and take them somewhere else. Phillipians 4.8 is worth having in your memory bank.

Also it is good to use a bit of common sense for it is silly of me to think that those pretty girls would take an interest in me were they not hired to do so!!!
Go well!! MG

Sunday, 1 November 2009

First day

Hi folks, my name is Mal Grosch and this is Groschblog. It is dedicated to God and is simply my walk in the world and my reflections on it. I live in Bethnal Green, London, England.
Today is Sunday 1st November 2009. This morning I went to my church. I didn't want to go but I am glad I did. My friend John Boy was telling me his priest was talking about Divine Energy and maybe it was that that got me to church.
Last week I went to a talk on Calvin at the Protestant Truth Society. A wise man wrote to me this week and said if you read the Lord's prayer there is no mention of any denomination. He is right. We love to hang onto our differences. I heard a bit of sniping at the PTS but it was made up for by a friendly welcome. You can have wonderful worship, great preaching and so on but without a warm welcome the former is meaningless. The Book of James ( James 2.15 ) agrees with me.
So bless you Sarah at the Protestant Truth Society!! You are wiser probably than many of the
writers of the books you stock. You have got the basics right. A cup of tea for the stranger!!
So there you have it. Do read the Groschblog and may the Lord bless you and keep.
The mog in the picture is Charlie. He is my mate Pete's cat. He is very wise- he doesn't work and doesn't pay council tax yet he has a nice flat and eats very well. Also he loves being loved.