Friday, March 02, 2007

Thoughts Do Matter

Thoughts do matter. Last summer a good friend and spiritual advisor, Father Cyril Gorman (now aka Father Tony) suggested that I read a book by Sr. Mary Margaret Funk, OSB. The book is entitled Thoughts Matter and it covers the eight areas of thought life discussed by John Cassian in his Conferences. These are food, sex, things, anger, dejection, acedia, vainglory, and pride.

Now it's been a year and I am returning to the book once again during Lent in order to walk with some brothers who are using this book for their own Lenten table reading. Sometimes it's great to return to familiar books, because it gives one a better idea of how far you have, or in some cases, haven't come.

In this case, a lot has transpired since I devoured that book basically in one weekend while at St John's Abbey last year. Coming back to it I can see now how important thoughts are. I also perceive how much of the progress I've made this past year in discernment and holy living has come from being aware of and directing my thought processes consciously toward God.

By no means have I come very far, but the reality is that my interior landscape began to change with the recognition that my inner dialogue was a conscious part of my spiritual life. Over time I'll be blogging about the eight areas as I cover them over the next 4 weeks of Lent, leading up to my Lenten retreat just before Holy Week.

Here is one quote from the introduction to the book. I hope it will entice others to pick it up and read it:

"To renounce one's thoughts may seem out-of-date to a casual observer- harsh, foreboding, even unrelenting. Yet, the theory about this, developed 2,000 years ago, is being rediscovered and reappropirated in our time by both mystics and scholars. A mind at peace, stilled, available for conscious thinking at will is of major value for those of us who confront chaos, confusion, noise and numbness as we move into the third millenium."

How true. Most of the men I know struggle, consciously or unconsciously, with a bombardment of images and information about sex, food, power and other enticements which seems to be taken for granted by our society. This caustic environment can't be escaped, at least not totally. So, resources to deal with it must come from within. John Cassian and his modern interpreter, Meg Funk, have given us those resources.

As some have said more eloquently than I, the place of struggle, the modern desert, for spiritual seekers, is not a place apart, it's right here, within our own culture. In this place we wrestle our demons to the ground and dash them against Christ, the Rock.


Bryan said...

I really want to pickup a copy of this book. I remember A writing about it as well. Sounds ultra practical.


Phil B. said...


It is VERY practical! I highly recommend it. Look for some additional posts on each of the eight thought areas she covers over the next 3-4 weeks.

Phil B. said...


It is VERY practical! I highly recommend it. Look for some additional posts on each of the eight thought areas she covers over the next 3-4 weeks.

Kyle said...

I picked it up and am reading it now because of a previous post by either you or A-dawg. Either way, I'm quite grateful for it.

Phil B. said...

prob'ly was A-dawg... but either way, I'm glad you're reading it- report back, please! I am getting ready to post about the first area soon, I think. Also, I'm going to be at a retreat led by her during Passion Sunday weekend.... please pray!