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Thoughts Matter: The Practice of the Spiritual Life
Sister Mary Margaret Funk explains the theory and practice of dealing with mindless thoughts developed by the great fourth-century monk John Cassian. She interprets the techniques in a contemporary way suitable for lay persons who are serious about the spiritual life.>
Paperback, 144 pages
Published December 1st 1998 by Continuum
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Based on the desert fathers Cassian and Evagrius, presenting maturity in spiritual life as awareness and direction of our thoughts regarding: hunger, lust, possessions, anger, sadness, boredom (acedia), posing (vainglory), and arrogance (pride). Quite amazing - I didn't at first agree that snacking between meals (seems so little) can have an effect on prayer or mindfulness, but she makes a good case. Interior and exterior life inform and influence each other.
Funk draws on the list of the eight thoughts which provided the basis for the medieval Seven Deadly Sins. By exploring the eight thoughts she advocates that progress in the Spiritual life consists of, at least in part, learning to discipline and purge your thought life of competing temptations and desires, so that you can devote yourself more fully to God.
An introduction to the way mental vices can erode the spiritual life. The writer comes out of the Benedictine monastic tradition, but that tradition can help orient the self in ways that are not always related to God but to the dimensions of the person that promotes wholeness and gentleness.
I would give this five stars based on her chapters on vain glory and pride, but in other parts I sometimes found her writing a little hard to follow. With that said, this book is helpful and has many "gems" to help anyone along the spiritual path. I plan on reading more of her works.