Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life

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9780060624828: Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life

For everyone seeking to experience some of the deep tranquility of contemplative life, this artfully crafted guide brings together concise selections from the great writings of the tradition, from Saint Benedict to Thomas Merton. It explores all the essential ingredients of monastic life in brief chapters on such themes as speech, humility, discernment, patience, longing, and love. By providing a brief account of how monastic life evolved and the best examples of monastic writing through the centuries, from the desert fathers to the medieval nuns Julian and Hildegard to John Chittister today, Father Hugh Feiss offers a rich treasury of monastic wisdom on living a full life.

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Review:

Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life, edited and translated by Hugh Feiss, is the Benedictine version of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Feiss assimilates a broad range of arcane material and makes it accessible to the general reader without rendering the tough parts of monasticism toothless. His book begins with a concise history of monasticism; then it provides hundreds of quotations describing three essential concerns of Benedictine life: "Ordering Time and Place," "Character," and "The Good Desired and Possessed." Concrete expressions of each concern are further organized into collections of quotations with headings such as "Hospitality," "Discernment," "Longing," and "Love," making Essential Monastic Wisdom an extremely useful resource for readers seeking inspiration and guidance in many essential aspects of spiritual life. In addition to the oft-heard voices in the monastic chorus--such as St. Anthony, Thomas Merton, and Hildegarde--this book introduces readers to a number of characters whose wisdom is more seldom heard. Among these are Amma Syncletica, a fifth-century nun who describes the suffering of women in childbirth, offering the still-valid observation that "towards women generally there is great hostility in the world"; and Peter of Celle, a 12th-century monk and biblical commentator who describes a room that contains nothing to read as "a hell without consolation ... a tomb without ventilation." --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:

Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B., has been a Benedictine monk for over thirty-five years. He is a teacher, scholar, author, and translator whose works include several studies of the monastic tradition.

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Feiss, Hugh
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