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Monday, February 16, 2009

Faith, Prayer, Sloth, Transformation

Reading Acedia & me by Kathleen Norris - various quotes that I like:

"We shortchange ourselves by regarding religious faith as a matter of intellectual assent. This is a modern aberration; the traditional Christian view is far more holistic, regarding faith as a whole-body experience." (p. 84)

"Prayer is warfare to the last breath." (Abba Agathon, quoted p. 96)

"If the Church has made too much of the sin of pride, which seduces us into thinking too highly of ourselves, it has not made enough of the sin of sloth, which allows us to settle for being less than we can be, both as individuals and as a society." (p.113)

"The concept of sin... is meant to encourage people to believe that they are made in the image of God and to act accordingly. Hope is the heart of it, and the ever-present possibility of transformation." (p. 114)

This is a fabulous book. It talks about "acedia," which I had never really heard of before. It's difficult to define - but I think I understand it to basically be the temptation to not stick with it when it gets hard to be faithful. It was a term first applied to monks and nuns living their simple and arduous lives, and the temptation to chuck it! But this book applies the same temptation to artists, writers, even married people who want to give up on their vows. It's all about commitment of all sorts, and following through when you don't feel like it.

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