Quotations: March 2009 Archives

from Acedia and Me
Kathleen Norris

One of the first symptoms of both acedia and depression is the inability to address the body's basic daily needs. It is also a refusal of repetition. Showering, shampooing, brushing the teeth, taking a multi-vitamin, going for a daily walk, as unremarkable as they seem, are acts of self-respect. They enhance the ability to take pleasure in oneself, and in the world. But the notion of pleasure is alien to acedia, and one becomes weary thinking about doing anything at all. It is too much to ask, one decides, sinking back on the sofa. This indolence extracts a high price. Esther's [from The Bell Jar] desire to "do everything once and for all and be through with it" has all the distorted reasoning of insanity. It is a call to suicide.

The refusal of repetition--the refusal to the small details that make life livable. The refusal, for example, to practice the discipline of the Liturgy of the Hours can, for some, lead to acedia--particularly those who are bound by rules of an Order. But the refusal of the mundane--cleaning house, ironing clothes, being present to friends for conversation, all of these are like items on a checklist that show how far we have sunk into either depression or acedia. The difficulty, of course, is in the distinction between the two.

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The Shepherd and the Sheep


According to St. Asterius of Amasea

from The Office of Hours

Let us look more closely at the hidden meaning of this parable. The sheep is more than a sheep, the shepherd more than a shepherd. They are examples enshrining holy truths. They teach us that we should not look on men as lost or beyond hope; we should not abandon them when they are in danger or be slow to come to their help. When they turn away from the right path and wander, we must lead them back, and rejoice at their return, welcoming them back into the company of those who lead good and holy lives.

It is all too easy to dismiss someone. It is all too easy to do so without even being aware that you are doing so. It is so easy to overlook a voice giving advice or asking for help; it is so easy to be annoyed with those who want something from us. How easy it is to give up on everyone and every thing, to give up the transformation of our own lives and the lives of those around us. How easy it is to bulldoze ahead with our own ideas and our own ways of doing things. How easy it can be to curse someone--particularly someone we do not know well; how simple to wish them ill.

And what an effort of will it takes to invite someone back--especially someone who has done a wrong to us. And yet that it what Lent is about--inviting back all who are children of God. And sometimes that means inviting back someone who has personally offended me.

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A Sobering, Realistic Thought


"For I had become aware that it was possible to reject time, as well as embrace it. If I wanted to I could live just barely, refusing the gift of each day."

Kathleen Norris in Acedia and Me

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Quotations category from March 2009.

Quotations: February 2009 is the previous archive.

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