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Cloister Walk

Norris interprets acedia to the modern reader as a condition of being unable to care about what is important. The term resonates deeply with Norris’s experience, and she shares the effects of acedia on our society and her life and marriage. She feels that acedia, although well understood among monastics, encompasses an important concept for all in our contemporary times and should be restored to our vocabulary. “Lethargy, acedia: in some ways I think they define American culture today. The plethora of 24-hour news sources are perfect carriers of the disease, bombarding us with so much ‘information’ that we can no longer distinguish between what is important and what is not, and discern what we truly need to care about,” is how Norris put it. Norris has become increasingly active in the university over the years. “Br. Dietrich Reinhart kept asking me to consider becoming a Regent,” she said. “I told him I didn’t have any expertise to offer, in higher education, finance, business.” But the late Br. Dietrich, (L to R) Norris, Josue Behnen, OSB, and Paul-Vincent Niebauer president of the university from 1991- 2008, ’74, OSB, field questions at a panel discussion on acedia last fall. insisted that she would offer something For a video of the discussion, go to http://bit.ly/KNorris. important to the Board, a perspective on what the monastic community brings to the university. “I’m so glad he kept asking,” Written in the aftermath of her husband’s death from Norris said, “because it has been a wonderful experience.” cancer at 60, Acedia & Me explores the meaning of the term Norris is in the first year of her third and final term as a acedia—an ancient word for the spiritual side of sloth— Trustee (formerly Regent), serving on the Board of both the unfamiliar to most moderns but common in the early and university and the graduate school of theology. medieval church. She first discovered it in The Praktikos, a “What I see on campus, and what the faculty and manuscript by the fourth-century monk Evagrius Pontikos. administration sometimes fail to understand, is that the Thomas Brossart ’14

and speaking on her latest book, Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks and a Writer’s Life, she was eager to get back to her first love, poetry. She also took time out to lead a wellattended panel discussion for the community and public on the topic of acedia.

The Collegeville Institute Several of Norris’s best-sellers were written or edited during her residencies at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at Saint John’s. The institute is a meeting place and residential center on the Saint John’s

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Profile for CSB & SJU

Saint John's Magazine Summer/Fall 2012  

Saint John's Magazine is published in the fall and winter for alumni, parents, friends and the Saint John's University campus community.

Saint John's Magazine Summer/Fall 2012  

Saint John's Magazine is published in the fall and winter for alumni, parents, friends and the Saint John's University campus community.

Profile for csbsju
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