Cover Image: The Monastic Heart

The Monastic Heart

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Member Reviews

This is a beautiful, demanding book about applying the Rule of St. Benedict here in our tumultuous everyday lives. The writing is crisp, clear, and not for the faint of heart. An excellent choice for anyone who feels like their life is not spiritually demanding enough and who would appreciate the challenge of structure to change that.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book.
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Even if you don't want to become a nun or monk yourself, The Rule of Saint Benedict, a book of precepts written in 516 by Benedict of Nursia (c. AD 480–550) for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot, contains useful advice to live closely with God and your community. The activist and nun Joan Chittister reflects in The Monastic Heart: 50 Simple Practices for a Contemplative and Fulfilling Life on habits, rhythms, ceremonies, rituals, and life-changing practices. She not only borrows from The Rule of Saint Benedict and the Bible, but also from the other mainstream religions that have a monastic order or fraction.

Bells to remember you about the daily patterns, hospitality, and humility up to singing praise and communal prayer. The author sheds a light on burning candles and silence, contemplation and study, staying away from worldly temptations yet serving the community around, finding inner peace, and keeping your heart pure. Fifty chapters with a short description of the Benedictine sources, verses from holy books, putting the rule in practice, and a twist or two to keep it as lightweight as possible.

Plenty of food for thought, personal reflection, and deepening your spiritual life. Go with God!
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Sister Joan cuts through all the noise and chaos of this present day in the preface alone (which I underlined and mediated on and and whispered and shouted an Amen to many times) and brings us back to the essentials of a life of faith and devotion. And that’s just in the preface! She reminds us we can have a life of wholeness and “free of the grasping of gadgets”. I am a fan and highly recommend this book.
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I fell in love with this book from the moment I began reading… posted on it immediately and in conversation with friends have shared how it is a life changing reminder to “ Instead, we must each seek to discover what spiritual sanity means for us, so that whatever changes around us does not change our best longings, does not corrupt our best selves.”
This book is the perfect hand to hold as we enter our shared communities and world as it slowly reopens.  It also confirms that to not hold on to whatever mistakes or challenging feelings we experienced during this past time but to nurture our souls with the tenderness we would a beloved garden.  Highly recommend!
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Sister Joan highlights various aspects of monastic living and makes them accessible for the reader whether they are a religious or not. She gives the history behind monastic practices and shows how they can transform anyone (monk, nun, or lay person) when we open to the Spirit behind them. I always appreciate how sister Joan makes St Benedict so practical. Great book for anyone curious about spiritual formation and monastic living.
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