'My thoughts on the spiritual exercises proper to cloistered monks'; the ninth prior of La Grande Chartreuse (†1180) articulates the monastic contemplative tradition in distinctively western terms. '...reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation. These make a ladder for monks by which they are lifted up from earth to heaven. It has few rungs, yet its length is immense and wonderful, for its lower end rests upon the earth, but its top pierces the clouds and seeks heavenly secrets.'
The fifth prior of the Grande Chartreuse, Guigo I was esteemed as 'a prior worthy of eternal fame', a prudent man and immensely erudite in both secular and sacred studies. His personal reflections on Holy Scripture take the form of a spiritual journey in which he blends theology and personal experience, daily practicality and ascetic insight, in a way both typical of twelfth-century reformed monasticism and uniquely carthusian.
'A mirror for the diligent, a gad-fly for the indolent', one Benedictine called the Cistercians of his day. Although cistercian studies have flourished over the past quarter century, most attention has been directed to events and literature of the second generation, the Age of Saint Bernard. Here, in commemoration of the nine-hundredth anniversary of the foundation of 'the new monastery' in 1098, documents from and studies on the earliest cistercian years have been assembled to introduce readers to the 'first founders of this church' at Citeaux.
We find the essence of holiness deep in the Scriptures, in the teaching and imitation of Jesus. When a Christian lives a particular way of holiness back to its scriptural source, we see in the person the Church as it waits for the Saviour, beyond all activities and ministries. We hear the testimony of that holy person speaking both of the peace and the energy of the last times, which the holy one sees as now. This is the experience of the contemplative. The contemplative aspect of the Church, where the Spirit is rushing things along to their fulfillment in his chosen one, has long been neglected. We are simply not aware of it in our ministerial preoccupations. Yet it is the place where all ministries are directed. In this book the author has chosen four ways of holiness which, if taken back to their scriptural source and lived there, help rectify the imbalances in our doctrinal and ecclesiastical life. Monasteries dedicated to profound Christian contemplation, as privileged places where the imbalance is righted, are essential to the revelation of the true nature of the Church, both in the daily reality as well as in the searing vision of Christ in glory.
In his chapter on the procedure for the reception of new brothers, Saint Benedict makes provision for entrusting them to the care of "a senior who is skilled in winning souls who will diligently pay attention to them in everything" (58.6). In The Art of Winning Souls: Pastoral Care of Novices, Michael Casey, OCSO, reflects on what this means today, based on his own experience and observation of the fruitful ministry of others.Here Casey focuses on the pastoral care given in the name of a monastic community to those who enter it, from initial contact up to the point where their vocation has recognizably stabilized. His reflections are not intended to be prescriptive. They are, rather, descriptive of what he considers to be best practice, as he has encountered this in his experience of many different expressions of the monastic and Benedictine charism. This book promises to serve as an indispensable resource for vocation directors, novice directors, and junior directors for years to come.Michael Casey, OCSO, is a monk of Tarrawarra Abbey (Australia). He holds a degree in Scripture at Leuven and a doctorate from Melbourne College of Divinity for a study of desire for God in the writings of Bernard of Clairvaux. In recent decades he has been engaged in exploring different aspects of monastic spirituality, writing, and giving conferences throughout the English-speaking monastic world. His books include The Road to Eternal Life: Reflections on the Prologue of Benedict's Rule (Liturgical Press, 2011) and Seventy-Four Tools for Good Living: Reflections on the Fourth Chapter of Benedict's Rule (Liturgical Press, 2014).