Archives For Monasticism

 

Rooted in Scripture
and Monastic Tradition

 
A Review of

Benedict’s Daughter: Poems
Philip C. Kolin

Paperback: Resource Publications, 2017.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Frederick W. Bassett
 
 

Benedict’s Daughter is Philip C. Kolin’s eighth and most recent book of poems. The mere titles of these earlier books, such as The Wailing Wall, Deep Wonder, Emmett Till in Different States, demonstrate his deep and wide-ranging poetic efforts. In a special way, this latest collection expands his poetic interests in Benedictine spirituality by shining light on the journey of his long-time spiritual director, a Benedictine Oblate named Midge in the poems.

In the midst of a gifted academic career (more than 40 books, over 200 scholarly articles, plus countless poems), Kolin wrote Benedict’s Daughter as a poetic tribute to Midge and those who live according to St. Benedict’s Holy Rule (“ora et labora,” prayer and work).
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Thomas_Merton

Sunday is the birthday of Thomas Merton, born 31 January 1915.

Merton was a monk who not only wrote elegantly about contemplative life, but also was a gifted poet and social critic. Here is an introductory guide to some of his best books. I’ve included an excerpt, where possible with each of the books.

 

1. The Seven Storey Mountain

 

Merton’s bestselling autobiography of how he found his way to monastic life. This is the most familiar of Merton’s books, but if you haven’t read it, it is a great place to start.

 

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Allowing Grace to Move us Forward
 
A Review of 

Seeking Surrender: How My Friendship with a Trappist Monk Taught Me to Trust and Embrace Life
Colette Lafia

Paperback: Sorin Books, 2015
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Reviewed by Paul D. Gregory
 
 
Our lives are filled with numerous starts and stops, ups and downs and thrilling and devastating experiences. For most of us, the view from the summit is sublime and easy to negotiate. However, how do we handle the disappointment and loss that invariably arrive at our doorsteps? Some are able to quickly adept on their own, while others spend days, months and yes, sometimes years, learning how to survive the valleys. For many of us, the challenges life throws at us can be overwhelming, shattering our beliefs in friendships, family, as well as God.  Colette Lafia’s book entitled Seeking Surrender: How My Friendship with a Trappist Monk Taught Me to Trust and Embrace Life beautifully tackles these issues.
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An Antidote to Sin?

A Review of

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of Ancient Monks

Dennis Okholm

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2014
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Reviewed by Julie Lane-Gay
 
Despite constant occurrences of politician’s sexting employees, NFL players assaulting women and Wall Street tycoons cheating investors, sin remains fascinating, and ubiquitously destructive. The litany of lousy things people do to each other, and to themselves, continues to need our attention.
 
Dennis Okholm’s, Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of the Ancient Monks is a study of sin, of what the Catholic church and many others, refer to as the cardinal sins: gluttony, lust, greed, anger, envy, sloth and vain glory. These seven aren’t just the most common; they’re the parents from which all other sins originate. More specifically, Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins is a look at the seven sins from parallel perspectives: that of early monks, namely, Evagrius (4th C.), Cassian (5th C.) and Gregory the Great (6th C.), and that of current psychologists.

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Three volumes of Thomas Merton’s Journals have been deeply discounted for Kindle… starting at 99c!

I’ve been reading Entering the Silence, and really enjoying his stories of life in the monastery.

Thomas Merton (Monk, Mystic and Poet)

Entering the Silence: Becoming a Monk and a Writer (The Journals of Thomas Merton #2)

Only 99c!!!

Run to the Mountain: The Story of a Vocation (Journals of Thomas Merton #1)

$3.79

Learning To Love: Exploring Solitude and Freedom (Journals of Thomas Merton #6)

$3.79

*** NOTE: Prices stated are for The United States, prices outside the US may vary. Sorry.
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A Parable of Community


A Review of

The Rule of Taizé

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Erin Zoutendam.

 
The question at the heart of the publication of a book such as The Rule of Taizé is not whether we should read it, but why it was published at all. Surely the rule of a monastic community in rural France, a rule intended to order the lives of about a hundred monks, coincides very little with the lives of those of us who, instead of praying and laboring, commute to work, buy groceries at big-box stores, and collapse onto couches at the end of the day to tap and scroll on tiny screens. Even the most pious of us are hardly eager to hold all our possessions in common.

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Chris SmithIn 2013, we are encouraging our readers to mix up their reading habits, and read (or re-read) classics in addition to new books, such as the ones we review here in the ERB.

Broadly speaking, a classic is any book that is not a new book, or in other words that is worth reading five, ten or even one hundred years after its initial publication. ERB Editor Chris Smith has an article on The Huffington Post website arguing for reading a mix of classics and new books in 2013.

We’ve asked a number of noted writers to pick the classics that they often return to, and we will be running these lists as a weekly feature on our website through 2013.

This week’s post in the series is by ERB Editor, Chris Smith.

Writers on the Classics:
[ #1 – Shane Claiborne ] [ #5 (Last Week) – Ragan Sutterfield ]

Chris Smith is the author of five books, including The Virtue of Dialogue: Conversation as a Hopeful Practice of Church Communities (Patheos Press 2012) . He is currently finalizing the manuscript for a book entitled Slow Church, co-written with John Pattison (forthcoming IVP Books, Late 2013).  John and Chris blog about this new book project on Patheos.


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The Years that Lie Ahead

A Brief Review of

The Sun at Midnight: Monastic Experience of the Christian Mystery

Bernardo Olivera

Paperback: Cistercian Publications, 2012
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Reviewed by Danny Wright

 

In The Sun at Midnight, Bernardo Olivera, a Cistercian monk, examines the history of mysticism as it has been experienced through the Cistercian tradition and posits that mysticism is what we need in order to move forward in our relationships with God and our fellow man.  He believes that the West is not only experiencing a change of era, but an era of change, and that every era of change has its moment of religious awakening.  Religion is paramount, because it pushes us to discover our ultimate meaning and answers the basic existential questions of life.  He encourages the reader to understand that mystery is the most intricate and integral level of reality and that it gives meaning to everything that exists, and that mysticism itself gives birth to religion.  The author purports that every baptized believer is a mystic and that we should follow the example of the greatest mystic of all, Jesus of Nazareth.  As we experience God and his mystery, we will continually see the need to grow and develop because we will forever be dumbstruck in the presence of an Almighty God that reminds us that everything we know is a mere approximation and that our best descriptions of the mess in this sin-ravaged world are simply gibberish.

 

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Francis Kline - Lovers of the PlaceThe Staircase to Richer, Fuller Living

A Feature Review of

Lovers of the Place: Monasticism Loose in the Church

Francis Kline

Paperback: Liturgical Press, 2012
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Reviewed by David Nash

When I received Lovers of Place, I opened the book with eager anticipation.  I was intrigued with the subtitle “Monasticism Loose in the Church” and looked forward to reading the book. Then I was disappointed to find out that the book was first published in 1997, and was republished in 2012 without revision.  “Why?” I wondered.  As I read through the book I found that my hopes were not high enough!  Indeed, Lovers of the Place, though only a few years in print, holds the promise of becoming a spiritual classic.

The opening chapter presents an extended allegory of the life of the church, an allegory that rings true with my experience as a parish pastor, and sets the agenda for the rest of the book.  The second chapter opens up the allegory as the author explains the transition from “personal pre-occupation to wonderment at the larger world of the church paradoxically inside the building.” (18)

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It’s hip to be a monk. Monastic practices have become the rage in North American Christendom and not just among Catholics and Anglicans. It would not be surprising to find a young Southern Baptist for whom the praying of the hours has taken a significant place in their life with God. Or a Vineyard pastor organizing a retreat for solitude and silence.

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