Come along as author Jon M. Sweeney sits in the warm October sun
talking with Father Luke or enjoys a December afternoon in the
monastery with Father Ambrose.
In Cloister Talks, Sweeney offers a rare glimpse into his decades-long friendships with monks and shares the wisdom and insight for everyday living he has gained along the way. The contemplative monasticism Sweeney practiced with these monks has been the greatest source of guidance in his journey of faith, and here he shares it with poignant honesty.
Sweeney's conversations with monks engage various universal areas of life, including life, death, love, work, play, and spirituality. Readers will emerge with a deeper understanding of this ancient way of Christianity, a much needed antidote to the hurry of contemporary life.
Ambrose has such an interesting mind. When he talks it's as if he's painting the circles on a target, beginning at the outer ones. "If I had to give you one piece of advice it would be this: Don't look for sudden enlightenment. People call them ah-ha moments; don't worry about those. I know that you may feel your time is wasted here if you haven't had enough ah-has, but I assure you it won't be."
"So what should I be doing?" I asked him, feeling confused.
"When you finally quiet down enough you'll begin to hear the divine voice.
"Don't walk around looking for moments of enlightened insight," Ambrose continued. "For one thing, we're not that smart!" He laughed. "Instead, you should walk around praying. Sit in the church before dawn, praying. Or just shut your mouth for a few days. Listen to the talks given by the retreat master, if you like. Just sit. Try your best to stop thinking."
It sounded too easy to me. I told him that.
"What I'm suggesting is much harder than you might think. You'll see."
Monastic Insight for Everyday Living
Cloister Talks is a series of glimpses into Jon Sweeney's decades-long friendships with Cistercian and Benedictine monks in monasteries across the country. These communal brothers hold the keys to many of the things we all yearn for: stillness, solitude, simplicity, contemplation, and clarity of purpose. Here Sweeney shares with poignant honesty the wisdom he has gained among these holy yet still very human men. Their conversations engage a wide range of topics, including life, death, love, work, play, and spirituality, offering a deeper understanding of this ancient way of Christianity--a much-needed antidote to the hurry of contemporary life.
"In this poignant, richly nuanced book, Sweeney gives us our best record yet of the sweet tension between the cloister and the world that, like a leitmotif, sings always within those of us who yearn for both."--Phyllis Tickle, The Divine Hours
"If you ever wondered what a monk's life might be like, if you don't mind looking into a mirror to see the craziness of life in our culture, if you think you might splurge and go deeper with God, Sweeney shares his cloistered, very human, and wise friends with us as companions along the way."--James C. Howell, author of The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray
"Cloister Talks is a contemplative conversation inviting us to know ourselves in the deep, deep love of the One by whom we're already known."--Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of New Monasticism
"This will be a very encouraging book for those who want to glean insights from monks for everyday life outside the cloister and need permission to fail from time to time in implementing what they have learned."--Dennis Okholm, author of Monk Habits for Everyday People