Cassian taught that real intimacy with God in prayer demands renouncing one's former way of life, the thoughts belonging to that former way of life, and one's very idea of God. In Thoughts Matter, Mary Margaret Funk focuses on the second of these: renouncing the thoughts belonging to one's former way of life. Her eight chapters focus on different thoughts"-food, sex, anger, dejection, acedia (profound weariness of the soul), vainglory (taking credit for good actions), and pride.
Funk explains well how failure to control these thoughts can undermine our spiritual life, and she instructs readers on how effectively to overcome these thoughts and to focus instead on thoughts in harmony with God's will. The result is an experience of joy, hope, and freedom from enslavement to our appetites. Readers will come away enlightened, strengthened, and inspired to delve more deeply into a life of intimacy with God.
Benedictine nun and former prioress Funk translates the vocabulary of fourth-century Christian mysticism into accessible prose for 20th-century spiritual seekers. Using primarily the writings of the early desert father John Cassian (b. A.D. 356), other Christian mystics and an occasional Eastern religious mystic, Funk, the executive director of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, explores Cassian's premise that serious knowledge of God involves three renunciations: of one's former way of life, of the thoughts belonging to that former way of life and of one's very idea of God. Most of her text deals with renouncing the thoughts belonging to one's former way of life. Her eight chapters focus on different "thoughts"--food, sex, anger, dejection, acedia (profound weariness of the soul), vainglory (taking credit for good actions) and pride. In each chapter, she shows how such thoughts can interfere with one's knowledge of God. As Funk states: "To renounce one's thoughts may seem out-of-date to a casual observer--harsh, foreboding, even unrelenting. 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 millennium."