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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 24, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2004

Aaron Stalnaker
Pages 137-170

Spiritual Exercises and the Grace of God
Paradoxes of Personal Formation in Augustine

AUGUSTINE'S MATURE, ANTI-PELAGIAN UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN AND divine willing might appear to conflict with his advocacy (in numerous sermons, for example) of human striving to "make progress in righteousness" through various practices of personal reformation. In this essay I consider exercises such as reading and listening to scripture, fasting, and Eucharistie worship; I argue that although deep tensions exist in Augustine's account, ultimately they are not contradictions. Furthermore, recent attempts to retrieve "spiritual exercises" or askesis for contemporary ethical reflection would do well to grapple with Augustine's thought and practice in this area.

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