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Tools Matter for Practicing the Spiritual Life Paperback – August 31, 2004
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Funk turns to the wisdom of the desert fathers for the means of removing obstacles to spiritual growth, which include thoughts of food, sex, possessions, anger, dejection, and pride, among other preoccupations. Redirecting thought away from such weeds in the garden of the spirit can lead to a greater awareness of God. This somewhat Zen-like method to mental discipline may seem impossible at first, Funk admits, but those who succeed at it are rewarded with a liberating experience as they come to observe and control individual thought processes. Drawing on the writings of the fifth-century monk John Cassian, Funk goes on to explore deeply using such tools as memory, imagination, and rational thinking--tools right out of early Christianity--to work on inner healing. She also explains how other positive tools, such as ceaseless prayer, manual labor, and isolation, may lead to uncluttering the mind and purifying the heart. Worthy guidance for contemplative spiritual seekers. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Worthy guidance for contemplative spiritual seekers."—Booklist "an excellent place for one to begin spiritual renewal"—Catholic News Service "In [Tools Matter, Mary Margaret Funk] discusses the tools needed to advance in the Christian Life.... Her Negative tools come from the monastic tradition: guarding the heart, watchfulness of thoughts, fasting, dreams, adn repentance. Her positive tools: ceaseless prayer, manual labor, the cell, vigils, manifestation of thoughts. There are, in addition, social tools: humility, ministry, and the common table....Funk shows how a person might borrow one form of spirituality in order to enrish another....This is a rich work. Funk, like the householder of the Gosepl, is able to draw out both old things and new."—Commonweal
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Top Customer Reviews
Sr.Meg truly takes her readers "back to the sources" of the desert and early Christian monasticism as she places in our hands another insightful and helpful 155 pages for the spiritual journey. Those who haven't yet read or may have forgotten the contents of her first volume: Thoughts Matter, will be happy to find that the author gives us not just a brief replay of the "eight thoughts" or "afflictions" that obscure our awareness of God but adds many new insights, nuances and examples. Of the more than 25 practices Meg shares here from our Christian tradition that can be reappropriated today as tools on the contemplative path, she gives pride of place and repeated focus to Lectio Divina "the classic individual prayer form". Her presentation is very well done. Sr.Meg's years of compassionate intermonastic exchanges echo through her volume as she uses phrases like "right effort; right thinking, right relationships" and "the transmision of God". Her breakdown of the tools into negative, positive, social, and prayer tools is helpful. Under the social tools the author gives an exposition of humility with a unique glimpse at St. Benedict's 12 degrees (Chap. 7 of the Rule)and as she herself says "The tools involved in using these twelve steps form a refrain rhroughtout this entire book". Motivation is critical! Attention and intention are frequent "wake up calls" thoughout the seven chapters of the work.
In the final chapter on discernment the author indicates what we can learn from each of the eight afflictive thoughts, using the suggested tools and knowing the goal of each effort. The "downside" or limitations of each of the tools is offered to help all walk in the Turth! Spiritual direction is also included in the final chapter with a view to the listener and the seeker.
The books is highly recommended for all seekers, monastics and lay alike!
In the Benedictine tradition during Lent we have a special time for spiritual reading. I read "Tools Matter..." for Lent this year. It has reminded me of many of the essenbtial tools that are basic, but which can easily set aside over the years. This book has encouraged me to review and return to some of these basic practices.
of inspiration and a practical guide for the development of spiritual
practice. The importance of having tools and knowing how to use them as we
tend "the garden of our souls" is articulated in a fresh and accessible way.
While it draws on practices from the early Christian tradition, the depth
and universality of its message is applicable to anyone on a contemplative
path. Tools do matter; they provide us with the means to bring our spiritual
practice to life in an ongoing way. Many thanks to the author for this
important manual of the heart.