“The Monastic Heart”, by Joan Chittister, is written with the pandemic and all the recent global trauma in mind. As such, it opens with a questions “Where do we go now as individuals to find our way out of the shadows and toward a new light?”. From there, each chapter unpacks just one element of monastic life, it’s origins and purpose as well as how to apply it to modern life. Joan writes “Monasticism is the single-hearted search for what matters in life.” and this is theme woven consistently throughout.
Ladened with insights, I found it best to digest no more than a chapter a night and, on occasion, to come back and reflect on the previous day’s reading. It is a book upon one needs to meditate in order to appreciate all it offers.
“Community is the commitment to carry others through their periods of darkness as they carry you through yours.”“The Monastic Heart” by Joan Chittister
It is a book of hope written from the perspective of someone who has endured much, loved and encouraged many and is full of wisdom. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it is a five out of five on the enJOYment scale and highly recommended.
Five stars are just not enough stars for this book. It is just the right message for me, at the right time. I am sure there will be many others who feel the same way about it. I just love the way the author digs into these, “50 Simple Practices for a Contemplative and Fulfilling Life”.
Encouraged by a friend, who she describes as her muse, the author achieves the goal of, ” turning monastic language into language people can understand in their own lives.” I am very grateful that while it took 25 years to come to fruition, I have had the privilege of reading it.
There are just too many words of wisdom for such a small space, I have highlighted so many in my copy that I think I may just as well have coloured the entire text 🙂
Some partial thoughts, “… Solitude saves you from …”, “Willingness is no substitute for preparation…”, “Monasticism is a call to develop the best of ourselves… “, “God the Creator trusts you…”, and, “What we give time to creates us..”
There is much, much more to this incredible book. I do hope this short review encourages you to engage with it. You won’t be sorry.
We received complimentary copies of the book from Convergent Books through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in these reviews are completely our own.
From the back cover:
The activist, nun, and esteemed spiritual voice who has twice appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday sounds the call to create a monastery within ourselves—to cultivate wisdom and resilience so that we may join God in the work of renewal, restoration, and justice right where we are.
“Essential reading for anyone wishing to find the compass of their heart and the wellspring from which to live fully.”—Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries and New York Times bestselling author of Tattoos on the Heart
“In every beating heart is a silent undercurrent that calls each of us to a place unknown, to the vision of a wiser life, to become what I feel I must be—but cannot name.” So begins Sister Joan Chittister’s words on monasticism, offering a way of living and seeing life that brings deep human satisfaction. Amid the astounding disruptions of normalcy that have unfolded in our world, Sister Joan calls all of us to cultivate the spiritual seeker within, however that may look across our diverse journeys: “We can depend only on the depth of the spiritual well in us. The well is the only thing that can save us from the fear of our own frailty.”
This book carries the weight and wisdom of the monastic spiritual tradition into the twenty-first century. Sister Joan leans into Saint Benedict, who, as a young man in the sixth century, sought moral integrity in the face of an empire not by conquering or overpowering the empire but by simply living an ordinary life extraordinarily well. This same monastic mindset can help us grow in wisdom, equanimity, and strength of soul as we seek restoration and renewal both at home and in the world.
At a time when people around the world are bearing witness to human frailty—and, simultaneously, the endurance of the human spirit—The Monastic Heart invites readers of all walks to welcome this end of certainty and embrace a new beginning of our faith. Without stepping foot in a monastery, we can become, like those before us, a deeper, freer self, a richer soul—and, as a result, a true monastic, so “that in all things God may be glorified.”