Friday, 20 July 2012

A Son of the Church

This is a wonderful little book which can easily be read in a single sitting, and to which I find myself returning again and again. An "antidote to...indifference", to use the words of the translator, it has frequently helped me re-focus and wake myself up from spiritual lethargy. Its beauty lies in its simplicity. It contains no elevated discussion about doctrine, no poetic meditation on the wonders of God's love, nor does it delve into the depths of the spiritual life. Instead "it is a concise manual of rules of piety in outward behaviour [which] at the same time breathes a spirit of deep inward reverence and reflectiveness." For many, focus on outward behaviour signifies a departure from genuine spirituality, a descent into legalism, phariseeism, vain repetition, and empty ritual. Of course, if the focus is only on the outward this will always be the case, but it is when we cease being attentive to what we do and no longer stop to consider the purpose or significance of our actions that we make them vain and empty. Although simple and self-evident, how often do we really stop to examine our conscience before entering the church to pray, how often do we remember to eat our food with gratitude and humility, how often do we make prostrations, bows, or the sign of the Cross with proper consideration to their meaning? Reminding me of my unfaithfulness in the little things, this book never fails to bring me back to basics (which is where my spiritual life is, however disheartening that might be to face), and from there to make a new attempt.

No comments:

Post a Comment