Monday, August 01, 2005

Happy August!

I managed to complete my Latin course on Friday. It was a terrific experience, though it left little time for the Prior's blog. As I mentioned a few posts ago, I hope to explore some links between the ethics of the ancient Stoics and the monastic ethos in the West, beginning with Evagrius and Cassian, immediate forerunners of St. Benedict. Interspersed with this, I will make some comments on the Rule, and also give over some insights that come of my present lectio on 'Second Isaiah', that is, Isaiah 40-55.

For today, let me simply note this correspondence:
"The demon of acedia--also called the noonday demon--is the one that causes the most serious trouble [to the monk] of all. He presses his attack upon the monk about the fourth hour and besieges the monk until the eighth hour [i.e. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.]. First of all he makes it seem that the sun barely moves, if at all, and that the day is fifty hours long. Then he constrains the monk to look constantly out the windows, to walk outside the cell, to gaze carefully at the sun to determine how far it stands from the ninth hour [i.e. dinner time], to loko now this way and now that to see if perhaps...[someone might visit?]
--Evagrius Ponticus, "Praktikos" chapter 12, tr. by John Eudes Bamberger, OSCO

"There is no reason to suppose that this too is evidence of people living a long time, that the day seems long to them, or that until the time appointed for supper, they lament that the hours drag on slowly; for when occupations fail them, these, abandoned in leisure, itch for something to do, nor do they seek for a way to arrange this downtime or extend it."
--Seneca "On the Brevity of Life" chapter 16, my (loose but more or less accurate!) translation

Four or five years ago, the religion writer for the Chicago Tribune, Steve Kloehn (whose columns I truly miss) observed that one of the overwhelming vices of modern Americans is actually sloth, despite our appearance of being on the go. His reasoning was that our penchant for being busybodies leaves no leisure time for the things of God and the cultivation of virtue. With regard to the things that really count, I believe that Seneca and Evagrius would concur that we Americans truly are slothful.

I am pleased to be posting again, and I very much appreciate the comments I've been receving. Hopefully, I will be more regular in my posts and we can work through some thoughts together and encourage each other in our pursuit of holy lives. I wish you peace in Jesus Christ!

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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