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Above the Thunderstorm

At first glance, it seems odd that a major academic publisher should commission a volume on, as it were, the phenomenology of religious life. Insofar as they are perceptible at all, religious have retreated to the margins of our imaginative universe, as defendants in court cases, amiable extras in . . . . Continue Reading »

What Monks Do

I am in a 1982 Volvo, headed north on I-5 toward Oceanside, at a pace I could easily beat on a bicycle. A universe of cars spreads to the north and the south. Twenty-five miles, on a five-lane freeway, will take an hour or more. How can people live like this? The ordeal of rush hour in Southern . . . . Continue Reading »

Secular Monks

Jack Dorsey, cofounder and CEO of Twitter and founder and CEO of Square, wakes up at 5 a.m. After drinking a juice made from Himalayan sea salt, water, and lemon, he takes an ice bath. He meditates for one hour each morning and one hour each evening. On weekends, he eats nothing and drinks only . . . . Continue Reading »

Where the Icons Aren't Yet Dry

This monk is not letting us go without a sermon, but he’s earned it. We—a group of scholars brought together for a conference in Romania celebrating the legacy of the historian Peter Brown—have been treated well. We are standing in the Neamț monastery library, where the Philokalia, that . . . . Continue Reading »

Pope Francis and the Hidden Path to Holiness

Five years ago the Catholic Church had a Year of the Priest, and now Pope Francis has declared a Year of Consecrated Life. To mark this year, he has issued an Apostolic Letter, building upon Vatican II’s decree on religious life, Perfectae Caritatis (1965), and St. John Paul II’s post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consecrata (1996). While everyone seems to have a concept of the priestly ideal, the unique charism of consecrated life, especially for men, is more obscure. In particular, religious brothers tend to have lower profiles than do priests and nuns. Continue Reading »

Elder Iosef’s Rules for Hermits

Wake at four o’clock, Byzantine time.Attend to yourselves.Recall that all is vanity.Say together Matins.At the First Hour, lift the sunwith open palms.Water now may slake your thirst.Remain here close enough to be seenbut far enough apart to be unheard.As is our custom, the Third Hour.You often . . . . Continue Reading »

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