Beatrice of Nazareth: Seven Manners of Divine Love

Seventeenth century Dutch painting depicting a "family tree" of Cistercian holy women. Beatrice of Nazareth is in the bottom row of medals, second from the right.

Today is the feast day of one of the lesser known of Cistercian blesseds (and medieval mystics), Beatrice of Nazareth, who lived ca. 1200-1268 CE.Born in or around 1200 CE, Beatrice of Nazareth was the youngest child of a devout Flemish family; her father may have been a mason involved in the construction of three different monasteries. A devout child, after her mother’s death when she was 7 Beatrice lived for a year with Beguines (lay women who lived communally). Afterward she went to live w … [Read more...]

Prologue 9

This 1996 translation of the Rule of St. Benedict, by Brother Luke Dysinger, gets it right.

“Prologue 9”? What does that mean, pray tell?It’s an allusion to the Rule of Saint Benedict, and — by a sort of happy coincidence — also to the Gospel of Saint John. Both the Rule and John are documents renowned for their prologue — and in both documents, verse 9 of the prologue is packed with meaning.The Prologue to Saint Benedict’s Rule is itself a renowned spiritual document, a stirring cry to holiness and fervor for anyone who might seek to follow the way of Christ without compromise. … [Read more...]

Monastic Life from the Inside

Light in the Shoe Shop

Recently I have read two wonderful books that offer a glimpse into the life of a Trappist monk and Trappistine nun. Both books are autobiographical, yet imbued with a deep and rich spirituality. Both of the authors entered the cloister before Vatican II, went on to become an abbot or abbess of their respective communities, and are still alive today. Taken together, these books celebrate the down-to-earth simplicity and beauty of monastic life as lived in our time — and for those of us who are n … [Read more...]

“That God’s Love Might Live in Us” — A Few Lovely Words from Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton in his hermitage. Photo by John Howard Griffin

I've been re-reading Thomas Merton's The Waters of Siloe for a class I'm teaching at the monastery. It's basically Merton's history of the Cistercian order, but it's also full of his insights into Cistercian spirituality (and monastic spirituality in general). I especially love the book because it devotes several pages to the founding of the monastery in Georgia, including a wonderful photograph of the monks sitting in front of the old barn where they lived when they first came to the … [Read more...]

Living with Hospice

"The Grace in Dying" — a book which explores the contemplative dimension of death and dying

Today is my stepdaughter Rhiannon's 29th birthday. It's always a sweet day, but today is a bit sweeter than most, because just a few months ago we thought she wouldn't live to see it.As I've explained in a previous post, Rhiannon lives with kidney and liver disease. Born with polycystic kidney disease that was so serious she almost didn't make it out of neonatal intensive care, she developed problems with her liver as a result of her kidney problems. To top it all off, she is also … [Read more...]

A Prayer for the Morning

Beautiful God, Blessed Trinity, I thank you for the gift of this new day. O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me. I ask for the gift of grace today. All that I long for can only come from you. I ask for the gift of peace today. Lead me to the silence deep beneath my inner turbulence. I ask for the gift of light today. May your resplendence shine on me, without and within, and on all people. I ask for the gift of true repentance today. Change my mind and give me the … [Read more...]

Finding Faith in Midlife

Catholic By Choice

Talk about a trip down memory lane.Richard Cole's Catholic By Choice: Why I Embraced the Faith, Joined the Church, and Embarked On the Adventure of a Lifetime (Loyola Press) recounts the story of how the author, at midlife, suddenly embraced the Catholic faith, even though he had spent most of his adult life looking down on religiously devout people as somehow mentally or emotionally deficient. Raised a mainline Protestant, like so many members of his (my) generation, Cole never gave the … [Read more...]


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