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After fifty years of monastic life, prayer, and spiritual direction, Meg Funk knows what it means to listen with the ear of one's heart to the Holy Spirit. InDiscernment Matters, she shares what she has learned. This book is a resource for those who want to learn and practice discernment as taught by the early monastic tradition. It includes an accessible summary of teachings about discernment from monastic traditions of late antiquity, consideration of important tools for making decisions today, and practical examples from the lives of St. Benedict and St. Patrick, as well as from the experience of monastics today. With this fifth volume of the Matters Series, Funk completes one of the most comprehensive presentations of the spiritual life available today, demonstrating why this inner work is both necessary and such a joy. Mary Margaret Funk is a Benedictine nun of Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Beech Grove, Indiana. From 1994 through 2004, she served as executive director of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, which fosters dialogue among monastics of the world's religions. In addition to the volumes of the Matters Series, she is the author of Islam Is…: An Experience of Dialogue and Devotion and Into the Depths: A Journey of Loss and Vocation.
In January 1984, Sr. Mary Margaret Funk, a Benedictine nun from Indiana, paid a visit to Maryknoll missionary nuns working in Bolivia. On what should have been a routine trip to the local town for a convocation ceremony, a flash flood swept away the jeep in which she, three nuns, a priest, and a disabled boy they had adopted were traveling. Only she and the priest survived. What happened that night catapulted Sr. Meg into twenty-five years of prayer and self-examination. She relentlessly explored her relationship with the transcendent and immanent God, the profundities of her religious tradition, her commitment to spiritual practice, and her very human failings. It was a journey that left her spiritually naked before the terrible love of God; a journey to keep one's heart open to the transforming wounds of suffering. In the great tradition of spiritual confessions from Augustine to Thomas Merton's The Seven-Storey Mountain, Into the Depths is a fearlessly honest and simply told account of one woman's struggle to engage at the deepest levels with the most profound questions of faith.
Lectio divina is a way of praying by sustained immersion into a revelatory text. While Scripture is the classic place of encounter with God, the text could also be the book of life or the book of nature. InLectio Matters, respected spiritual guide Meg Funk accompanies the reader in exploring the various levels of lectio divina as taught by the ancient church writers and by sharing her own long experience. By means of this wisdom both ancient and new, lectio divina can become our burning bush, a real encounter with the living God, in which we take off our sandals and bow our brow to the ground.
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.
How can we tend the garden of our souls? Meg 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 and purity of prayer. This 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. Mary Margaret Funk is a Benedictine nun of Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Beech Grove, Indiana. From 1994 through 2004, she served as executive director of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, which fosters dialogue among monastics of the world's religions. In addition to the volumes of the Matters Series, she is the author of Islam Is…: An Experience of Dialogue and Devotion and Into the Depths: A Journey of Loss and Vocation.
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.
As faithful Christians, it is important we hear, see, feel, and think with the heart, for it is through the heart that we attune ourselves to the Spirit and to what God wishes for each of us. Learning to Hear with the Heart—written as a companion for your discernment journey—invites you to spend thirty days listening for God's guidance not only for the big questions of your life but for everyday matters as well. Drawing on a wealth of stories, Scripture, prayer, and questions for reflection, author Debra Farrington encourages readers to be fuller and more joyful participants in discerning the shape and direction of their lives and in learning to live closer to God. Individuals and groups can use Learning to Hear with the Heart as a companion book to the author's earlier work Hearing with the Heart or as an individual, inspirational guide to the discernment process.

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