'Of all the categories of sin and spiritual difficulty which the ancients called the eight principal thoughts and the Middle Ages the seven capital vices or sins none is more fluid and elusive than acedia.' (Hugh Feiss, OSB). Acedia is the term that represents our consensual attempt to precisely name that condition, which has also been described as sloth, torpor, despair, boredom, indifference, or ennui. In truth, no one word serves. The classic diagnoses have been those that emerged from the great laboratory of the spiritual life, the Desert of fourth-century Egypt, unforgettably articulated by Evagrius of Pontus and John Cassian. It is with a profound exegesis of these that Kathleen Norris begins her own investigation, through memoir, of this insidiously devastating spiritual disease, as distinct to each of us individually as it is common to all. Through a narrative of her marriage (ending in the death of her husband David) and her saving relationship with a community of Benedictines, Norris offers her own life as another laboratory of spiritual discovery. She is in dialogue with us, while never straying far from the presence of Evagrius and Cassian. Acedia and Me is a gift of sacrificial vulnerability and ten years of rigorous research, represented not least by the concluding forty-page 'commonplace book' of quotations from an eclectic selection of ancient and modern sources. Those already acquainted with Norris and those just meeting her for the first time will be well served by this substantial work.
An Eighth Day View:
The extraordinary "New York Times" bestselling masterpiece from "one of the most eloquent yet earthbound spiritual writers of our time ("San Francisco Chronicle").
Kathleen Norris had written several much loved books, yet she couldn't drag herself out of bed in the morning, couldn't summon the energy for her daily tasks. Even as she struggled, Norris recognized her familiar battle with "acedia," a word she had discovered in early Church text years earlier. Fascinated by this "noonday demon," so familiar to those in the early and medieval Church, Norris knew she must restore this forgotten but important concept to the modern world's vernacular. An examination of acedia in the light of psychology, spirituality, the healing powers of religious practice, and Norris's own experience, "Acedia & Me" is both intimate and historically sweeping, brimming with exasperation and reverence, sometimes funny, often provocative, and always insightful.