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Book Review: How To Be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job May 12, 2011

Posted by brendaannkeller in book review, modern monasticism, Paraclete Press.
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How to be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job:
An Invitation to Oblate Life

Brother Benet Tvedten
Paraclete Press (2006)
Paper: 119 pps.

I’ve loved the Benedictine tradition since stepping into the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky almost a decade ago. Something deep within my soul said, “this fits.” I knew nothing about monastic traditions at the time.

The Daily Office, The Rule of St. Benedict….no idea.

I’ll always be thankful that my introduction to monasticism was observing the monks at that monastery.  My first feeling was one of being welcomed with genuine love. A monk sits at a desk in the main hall greeting visitors. When you enter and he simply says, “Welcome. Would it be helpful for you to receive spiritual assistance during your time here?”

If your response is, “No, thank you,” he hands you your key he and says, “Then may you find within these walls all that you need from the God who already knows.” I’ve wanted that tattooed on my face since the first time I heard it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the monastery this week probably because I’m long overdue for a visit. Tonight, as I was atoning for my carb sins of the day on the treadmill (totally worth it), I read How to be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job. Great book. Living in the moment enhances our spiritual lives.

Monasteries are the Gold Standard of intentional community when it comes to living in the moment. When they’re called to pray they pray. When they’re called to work they work. Wherever they are — they’re all there. Oh, I’m sure their minds wander and they have bad days too, but overall, they’re giving all of who they are to what they’re called to be right this moment. God is interested in my obedience right now. St. Benedict says, “The Lord calls out to us daily. Persevere wherever you are by embracing the routine of your daily life. This is how you find God now.”

I don’t know what God has for me 10 years from now or if I’ll even be here. I do know that God is calling me to walk with him, to give him these moments, and to trust him with today. I really believe Jesus managed to keep his eyes on the cross and on the events of daily life simultaneously.

Maybe the secret of a fulfilling life with God is keeping all this in balance. I’m going to start looking for more ways in my day to point people to “the answer” without trying to be one. And then as I leave the situation pray, “God may they find all that they need from you who already knows.” Freeing.

The Liturgical Year – A book review May 5, 2011

Posted by brendaannkeller in modern monasticism.
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The Liturgical Year:
The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life

Joan Chittister, OSB
Thomas Nelson (2009)
Paper: 229 pps.

There are years to mark every stage of life, from childhood to old age. And in the center of them all, unchanged for centuries is the liturgical calendar. Beginning at Advent and rolling through the following November, the churches liturgical year represents nothing less than the life of Jesus Christ – he whose life and attitudes Christians strives to emulate. It proposes, year after year, to immerse us repeatedly into the sense and substance of the Christian life, until, eventually, we become what we say we are: followers of Jesus all the way to the heart of God.

Joan Chittister, a long time Benedictine nun, presents a work about the Liturgical Year that’s heartfelt, honest, easy-to-read and even easier to apply to everyday life.

We’ve recently stepped from Ash Wednesday, Lent and through Holy Week into the Easter season.  We’ve walked where Jesus walked. We remembered his death and hopefully strengthened our resolve to live faithfully for him.  The church calendar runs all year but for me, I’m closest to the heart of Christ during the Easter season.

This is the first year I’ve experienced Lent and Easter in a liturgical church.  The symbolism, ancient traditions and practices are changing my life in ways I’ve yet to process.  I’m glad this book by fell into my lap during this season.  I’m finding the subtitle to be true: the spiraling adventure of the spiritual life.

The Liturgical Year  is a beautiful reminder that by following and acknowledging the liturgical calender, we live in sync with the Church and her people.  So many things in life we prepare for, accomplish, and discard.  I love that the liturgical year never ends.  Every year we join the rest of the Church to stand at this time, in this moment, to worship God.  It may be an “important” time like Advent or Lent or Easter, but it also may just be a regular Sunday when, falling in step with routine, we find that even in the ordinary moments we can be changed.

The liturgical year is an adventure in bringing the Christian life to fullness, the heart to alert, the soul to focus. It does not concern itself with the questions of how to make a living. It concerns itself with the questions of how to make a life.


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