The opening words of the ‘Yorkshire National Anthem’ * seem like a good heading to explain to (surviving!) readers why this site got off to a quiet but steady start in 2015, only to then sit seemingly inactive for four and a half years. ‘Where have I been’? No, I haven’t been in prison! No, I haven’t been in Yorkshire either (well, only to visit relatives now sadly Departed), but life and ministry can take unexpected turns, and I have been massively involved in supporting a Chaplaincy in the Diocese in Europe after the Chaplain retired and a long vacancy ensued, as well as in some teaching and formation assignments. If anything, I’ve been doing spiritual guidance and pastoral care, rather than writing about it!
Well, now Ask Fr Chris is back! When I started this site I felt I was responding to a definite vocation, and during this apparent absence the shape of that vocation has become clearer as I’ve taken time to read. pray and reflect. I’ll be honest and say that myriad distractions have sprung up every time my mind has returned to this task (don’t they always?!), but I’m now feeling I have some useful things to say.
In particular I’ve been reading and reflecting about the important but neglected subject of what is misleadingly labelled ‘spiritual depression’, a poor substitute for the untranslatable term ‘accidie’, or ‘akedia’, against which I have struggled all my Christian life. Until very recently the classical writing about this has been largely inaccessible to ordinary Christians. Very recently there has been more interest in the subject in the USA: this has led to some modern writing on the subject, so that information is a little easier to find. Hopefully help to fight this condition will become easier to find as well. I’m now convinced that the Church in the Western world is in the grip of an epidemic of this problem for which there isn’t even an English name, and that our failure to name and deal with the problem leads to the spiritual fading away of hundreds – thousands! – of Christians every year.
So… I’m not claiming to write from a lofty height of patristic insights, but I hope to write at a personal Christian level, as a fellow Christian dealing with the same problem, to share encouragement and hope wherever I find it. Watch this space – now, I’ve got a website to tidy up!
* ‘Yorkshire National Anthem’ is of course ‘Ilkley Moor’. For Soft Southerners, this opening line translates as ‘Where have you been since I last saw you?’