This is a really interesting little book. But know that it is more about principles than practices. It's about how the philosophy and sentiment behindThis is a really interesting little book. But know that it is more about principles than practices. It's about how the philosophy and sentiment behind Benedictine monasticism can sort of inspire different rhythms of life for us non-monastics. But it does not offer specific activities one can take on that gives us a kind of "Benedict" light. For example, his Chapter entitled, "Singing the Psalms" offers no practical ways of incorporating the Psalter into our every day lives. The whole chapter is about the history of how Benedictines structure their prayer times, and then talks about the wisdom of having SOME structure to our times of prayer, and he encourages us to consider going to bed and waking up much earlier than we normally would. Again--more principles than practices. But that's not bad. We can get obsessed with "practical application", and I appreciate the attempt to more create an ethos than give us every little act we ought to do in response to this. The book is good. It has gems of pastoral wisdom throughout and some beautiful pieces of writing. It's also a quick read, so if you get the chance to read this--do it; just have the right expectations....more
This is a great little biography. It's a new edition of a biography written in the early 20th-century. I mention that because this is not your typicalThis is a great little biography. It's a new edition of a biography written in the early 20th-century. I mention that because this is not your typical modern history or biography. It is very casual, less scholarly, more conversational. He also accepts the worldview of the subject. He speaks of Catherine's ecstasies, miracles, visions, spiritual "eating disorder", and other aspects of her life in a very matter-of-fact way. He does not offer critiques of these incidents nor does he clearly say he believes they were genuine spiritual manifestations. Catherine (and others) said this happened, and so he writes that they reported it happened. No judgment. No analysis. Just telling the story as neither hagiography nor as suspicious modernist treatise. The annotations from the editor of this new edition are genuinely insightful, offering some of those little nuggets that we as modern readers would likely appreciate. Whenever an unfamiliar name pops up, we see a call-out box from the editor telling us who it is. There are asides about Catherine's unhealthy eating habits, views on the Crusades, gender issues, and theological insights.
Regardless of all these issues, Catherine's is a fascinating life that was cut too short (likely due to her own behaviors). I can't say that I would have bought wholeheartedly into her theology and actions at the time, but in hindsight, if one can look past just how odd her mysticism was, and take from it what they can, they can learn so much about this remarkable woman--one of only two women that the Catholic Church has named a "Doctor of the Church". She deserves it....more
Amazing book. For a book so heavy on character, it's astonishing how many major plot twists there are. What a complex, beautiful, intelligent, piece oAmazing book. For a book so heavy on character, it's astonishing how many major plot twists there are. What a complex, beautiful, intelligent, piece of art....more