Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | March 15, 2010


I am beginning a four day “retreat” early; I’ve carved out four days off from work to enter deeply into…four days of contemplation, prayer, spiritual reading, and reflection. I know I’m going to get pulled into work throughout the four days; there’s no avoiding it, but for the most part, I’ll actually be able to blend it in with my self styled retreat. I’m looking forward to these four days.

I began tonight, Sunday, sitting in meditation, calling the Holy Spirit(A bit undefined as of now), and reading from the Book of Wisdom. Food for contemplation were the four things of wisdom: moderation, prudence, justice, and fortitude. Moderaton. Prudence. Justice. Fortitude.

I am also working on naming God, because when we use the word, God, it comes with so many connations and denotations. So, as so many religions do not speak the name of God, and as in Taoism we call it the thing that cannot be named, I am leaning towards these:
The numenous or divine. Numenous, a term created by Carl Jung, it brings to me both the ineffable nature of the divine, and the sort of lustrous haziness/cloudiness of our ability to know God.
The Universal Mind of God–I am drawn to the idea that God is mind, or thought, that he spoke and everything was created, that in the beginning was the word(I intend, during my four days, perhaps tomorrow, to go back to the beginning, and work on Genesis for a bit).

I also have scheduled for tomorrow, reading the Book of Sirach, a text included in Catholic bibles, but not protestant ones, but it’s a book of wisdom teachings.

I have scheduled for the four days, chores, like cleaning the kitchen and bathroom and vacuuming and doing laundry and going food shopping, but these tasks, again, will be woven into the framework of a retreat.

It seems as though the theme for the four days will be Wisdom, and the Numenous, or Universal Mind of God. After all, it is from the Universal Mind of God that we are infused with wisdom.

And finally, throughout the four days, I will be focused on my practice of tai chi chuan kung fu and qi gong, and will be mining the I Ching, a work that is filled with wisdom.



  1. Excellent. Thank you for the distinction. I know in Bednedictine monasticism, the virtues of moderation are extolled–not trying to be a super hero saint, just do the path…so I suppose the monastic life itself is the temperence part, where a person attends to the tempering of the inner self. This is what I’m trying to do in these four days!

  2. “Food for contemplation were the four things of wisdom: moderation, prudence, justice, and fortitude. Moderaton. Prudence. Justice. Fortitude.”

    You’ve listed the four cardinal virtues, except you’ve replaced temperance with moderation. But temperance is not moderation. What in English we call temperance is in the original Greek called ‘temperantia’. It goes far beyond mere abstaining from certain foods and drink. It has to do with preservation of the inner order, of tending to one’s spirit. Josef Piper calls it “selfless self-preservation.” As I understand it, it is as much a positive thing, requiring certain actions, as it is a negative thing, restraining us from certain actions. To replace temperantia with moderation would be like replacing an automobile with a seat belt; safe, certainly, but it won’t get you anywhere.

    In materials science, when we temper a metal, we make it ever so slightly softer, and in so doing we substantially decrease its brittleness. In absolute terms we have weakened the metal, though in practice any tool made from it will effectively be stronger because it will not shatter so easily. When we lose our temper, we become brittle and shatter. Temperance, then, might be thought of as the molecular fine structure of the soul. When all the molecules are correctly aligned and ordered, the metal is strong and the tool capable. When there is disarray at the molecular level, the metal is flawed and the tool prone to failure.

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