Monasticism/Neo-Monasticism, spiritual disciplines

Advent reflection from- Why We Are Waiting…

I’ve been receiving Advent updates and reflections from one site  in particular that is intriguing. It is called: Why We Are Waiting… It has been very helpful so far.

What I would particularly like to highlight is today’s Advent reflection excerpted from Abbott Christopher Jamison’s book Finding Happiness. Unfortunately, this excerpt rang true about some Christian groups I’ve been a part of in the past. Moreover, if we are to really pursue/be pursued by God then does it not stand to reason that Abbott Jamison’s suggestions would be the case? In a culture that is obsessed with physical exercise, could we not pray that we would have such devotion spiritually?

I’ve included the entire reflection below.

May Christ the Daystar continue to dawn in our hearts as we await his advent!

The interior world of human beings is a mixture of irrational and rational forces. The spiritual exercise of reason was the ancient and monastic response to this world, with daily reflection on the workings of my innermost soul; from such exercises flowed the solutions to life’s challenges and temptations. By contrast, in our culture, we are brought up without explicit and systematic spiritual formation, being informed that we can do and think what we like providing we don’t harm others. Spiritual practices such as meditation are considered purely optional extras for an eccentric few and so we are subtly led to understand that the spiritual struggle is not worth the effort.

While we want music with ‘soul’ and condemn ‘soulless’ bureaucrats, we have created a culture of spiritual carelessness that neglects the disciplined life of the soul. This state of mind is often accompanied by statements such as ‘I have not time for that sort of thing’, where having no time means both not having enough hours in the day and not having the inclination.

…A parallel can be drawn with the world of medicine. Before the discovery of germs, hygiene was not considered essential so many deaths were caused by infections that nobody could see. Once the existence of germs had been identified, physical hygiene became rigorous and lives were saved. Similarly, the cause of much unhappiness lies hidden from view but is truly present. Our demons are unseen thoughts that make us unhappy and spiritual hygiene is as necessary as medical hygiene if these diseases of the soul are to be healed. But we are a spiritually unhygienic society. While we know we must find time to brush our teeth, to visit the doctor and to take exercise, we have no such shared conviction about the need for spiritual exercises.

Finding Happiness. Pp56-57 by Abbot Christopher Jamison. Published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson


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