Synopses & Reviews
This intimate, vibrant, and deeply moving portrait of monastic life in America today examines the long-debated question of whether the spiritual life can be led in the everyday world or whether it must, in its highest and truest forms, involve an ascetic life of renunciation, stern discipline, and celibacy. Thirty elders of the Benedictine Order share their touching and thought-provoking life stories, from the everyday rhythm and ritual of prayer and work, solitude and community, sanctity and humor, to the most challenging moments of questioning, uncertainty, and tribulation, but also to moments of infinite inner peace and mystical joy. Part graceful memoir, part sacred legacy, this book offers an inspirational journey into the hearts, minds, and souls of 30 exceptional men and women.
"As Joan Chittister suggests in the powerful foreword to this book, our postmodern culture does not listen closely enough to what elderly people have to say. Yet what wisdom abounds in their experiences, argues writer and artist McGinnis in this collection of conversations with 30 elders of the Benedictine Order, all born between 1901 and 1925. McGinnis succeeds at capturing the sagacity these religious have acquired in their cloistered world of prayer and work. Although some of the testimonies don't translate into lucid prose, the lives of these monks and nuns provide a fascinating view into a different age, one less encumbered by e-mail, instant messaging and cell phones. Despite the sometimes awkward writing and poor syntax, the stories keep the reader engaged, especially when the elders discuss the spiritual significance of The Rule of Benedict, a timeless document from the sixth century C.E., or concentrate on a specific teaching of Benedict of Nursia, like the importance of hospitality. The stronger accounts require less effort to decode a lesson, like Fr. Stanislaus Maudlin's tale about saying yes to God, but all of them tell intriguing tales of personal joys, regrets and hopes. McGinnis complements the stories with detailed descriptions of the abbeys and monasteries and vivid portraits of the elders. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This is a wonderfully nourishing book full of honest and inspired insights. It gathers the essence of Benedictine life, chronicled by those who have lived it and who know it best. Readers will find warmth, clarity, and a spark of the divine in these lives." —Katharine Le Mée, author, Chant
and The Benedictine Gift to Music
Thirty elders of the Benedictine Order, all born between 1901 and 1925 and at home in thirty monasteries and convents across the country, share their touching and thought-provoking life storiesthe everyday rhythm and ritual of prayer and work, solitude and community, sanctity and humor; the most challenging moments of questioning, uncertainty, and tribulation; and moments of infinite inner peace and mystical joy.
About the Author
Mark W. McGinnis
is an artist and professor of art at Northern State University, South Dakota, who has had numerous solo and group art exhibitions across the United States. He is a lay member of the Benedictine Blue Cloud Abbey and lives in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Joan Chittister
is the author of In the Heart of the Temple; Scarred by Struggle
, Transformed by Hope;
and Wisdom Distilled from the Daily
. She is the executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality. She lives in Erie, Pennsylvania.