The Monastic Heart: 50 Simple Practices for a Contemplative and Fulfilling Life (Hardcover)
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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.”
About the Author
Joan Chittister, OSB, is an internationally known writer and lecturer and the executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality in Erie, Pennsylvania. A Benedictine Sister of Erie, Pennsylvania, she served as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses, and was prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie for twelve years. Sister Joan received her doctorate from Pennsylvania State University in speech communications theory. She has authored sixty books and received numerous awards for her work on behalf of peace, justice, and women in church and in society.
“This mystical wholeness aligns our souls with our spacious God. Seeing as God sees is within our reach, and this book helps us find our true selves in loving.”—Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries and New York Times bestselling author of Tattoos on the Heart
“One of the Church’s contemporary prophets teaches us, simply and clearly, how to cultivate our inner lives, and so encounter the One who desires to encounter us.”—James Martin, SJ, author of Learning to Pray
“To engage these pages is to hear a grateful hymn to the monastic life Sister Joan has known and loved. I notice particularly how often in this book Joan uses the word you. She seems to be handing over the baton, asking each one of us who listen to pick up our own share of the will of God for the world.”—Norvene Vest, editor of Still Listening
“Refreshing, practical . . . We learn that the ‘monastic heart’ is a portable thing, a heart that we all can carry in our busy lives as we respond deeply to the suffering of Mother Earth and the world around us. . . . A beautiful, handy guide to bringing out the best in ourselves as we try to serve the future charged with the wisdom of the past.”—Rev. Matthew Fox, author of Julian of Norwich and Hildegard of Bingen
“A beautiful and wonderfully useful book for introducing the wisdom and peace of the monastery into our daily lives. . . . I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to bring the joy of St. Benedict’s Rule into their hearts.”—Philip Freeman, PhD, professor of humanities at Pepperdine University
“[An] impeccable guide . . . Filled with many suggestions for ways to forge greater connections with one’s community and God’s will, Chittister’s program will serve as a powerful corrective to those looking to slow down.”—Publishers Weekly