I read the following sentences from Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire:
"Without prayer, that act of confession for merely existing, one might live forever and not know it."
I suppose "that act of confession for merely existing" refers to prayer. But what does it mean by "for merely existing"?
"I enjoy the spasmodic tics of human endeavor, the aimless urgency, the pride of it. The superbia. Hurrying feet, muttered curses, cross remarks sent winging about the estate."
What I sense from this passage is people are nervously busy. Does this have anything to do with "pride" and "superbia"?
I presume it contrasts parayer with the actual act of confession, where people confess the sins of the activities. The mere existence would refer to the belief that humankind is fallen, so prayer establishes the dialogue between a postlapsarian fallen being and the creator. (This is how I read it, but I am not a practising Christian, so there could be other ways of looking at it)
Oh, it's definitely a tough sentence to grasp, I agree. I'm not sure I can help out with the meaning of the sentence itself, but here what I believe the author may be referring to with 'merely existing':
'merely existing' as in living day-to-day to feed, cloth, and house oneself. That is, there's nothing more to life - just the basic need to survive. Now, if we carry that meaning over to "prayer", or what Maguire re-defines as "the act of confession for merely existing", I get, there is more to prayer than the basic spiritual need to confess one's sins.
superbia means, unreasonable and inordinate self-esteem.
To me the sentence expresses a sense of 'make-work' - there's not a lot to do so look as if you have something important to do. Keep up the pace, and sooner or later you'll begin to believe that it's more important than it actually is.