In this set of novitiate conferences from the late 1950s, Thomas Merton provides a vivid and detailed introduction to the traditional pattern and practices of the monastic day during the period immediately preceding the momentous changes that would be introduced in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Combining practical instruction with spiritual and theological reflection, this fifth volume of Merton’s teaching notes brings the reader into the choir and chapter room, scriptorium and cloisters of the Abbey of Gethsemani, and provides insight into the ecclesial, contemplative, paschal, and Trinitarian dimensions of Cistercian life.
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However much some critics may want to paint the later Merton as a contradictory voice on the margins of monasticism, these conferences reveal the mind and heart of someone who had ingested and treasured the entirety of monastic spiritual practices in a fashion that had no rival for the time in which it was written.
The American Benedictine Review
Thoughtful and edited and compiled masterfully by Patrick F. O’Connell, Monastic Observances is a solid addition to any theology collection.
The Midwest Book Review
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