Sunday, June 21, 2009

Short Monastic-Book Pilgrimages. A Benedictine oblate blog

After my blog about buying “Word & Spirit 17 Monastic On-going Formation” for $1.95, another oblate at St. Leo Abbey sent me a link to where someone is selling “Word & Spirit 7" (an earlier journal in the series) on E-Bay for $37.69 plus $3.50 shipping.

I am learning much from the book I bought. Every few pages I read a new-to-me idea about monastic formation (how men and women are trained/learn/develop as monks/nuns/sisters). Such insights cause me to stop reading and begin thinking. I am on page 11.

Here is what I am mulling over now from pages 10 and 11 (with footnote references omitted):

“Caught up in a wave of professionalization and compartmentalization, monastic communities are subject to losing sight of the importance of the "wisdom figures" and spiritual directors without portfolio who constitute such a vital reserve of sanctity and holiness in monastic life. The "educating of the heart," so essential to generations of monastic formation, did not always find a comfortable fit in the fonts of new programs that came into being under the rubric of monastic formation.

“There was also a form of damage control that was required
when some experimental programs of monastic formation became untracked. In the name of pluralism, ongoing formation became a Procrustean bed of centering prayer and Jungian psychoanalytic theory, Meyers-Briggs and the Enneagram, twelve-step therapies and Journaling. Helpful as some of these methods may have been for individual or community spiritual development, they often had the effect of slighting the components of mainline monastic spirituality that were expected in formation programs. The discipline of lectio divina and traditional ascetical practices seemed to be overlooked by many involved in formation, replaced by a set of individualized "career" specializations and even more basic "survival" skills for human development.”
I do not know what else “Word & Spirit 17 Monastic On-going Formation” may describe, but in relation to the lay person seeking a more ascetic/monastic manner of living in the world, the heart-centered daily conversion seems to be path for me.

Both “Word & Spirit 17" and a book I got last year, "The Love of Learning and the Desire for God," by Jean Leclercq, OSB. Fordham University Press, New York, 2001, were acquired during trips to the St. Leo Abbey bookstore when I was not looking for a book or expecting to buy one. But as soon as I looked at the cover of each book, I knew I would buy it — without knowing that each was a used book or that it was the only copy at the bookstore. And as I picked up each book I thought "this is why I came today."

Both of these books have special places in my small library, like old teachers they say, "First, you must know the question."


Picture is Santiago de Compostella by jamesdale10. My blog about this pilgrimage site is here.

Here is a prior blog on the book "The Love of Learning and the Desire for God."

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