Monastic Wisdom


Thank you for your interest in Monastic Wisdom Essentials.

We believe that the monastic traditions and practices that inform our lives as Brothers can help others to confront the challenges of knowing and loving God in our contemporary world. Our “Monastic Wisdom: Essentials” series explores a nugget of wisdom from the monastic tradition, illustrated with suggested spiritual practices to try today, reflection questions, and further resources.

The Monastic Vows


One of the three monastic vows, poverty is not the sole purview of monks. Christian poverty implicates the whole of our vocation as creatures before God. Br. Sean Glenn invites us to discover the new, countercultural freedom to be found in accepting our true poverty as creatures and receiving God’s alms of love.


One of the three monastic vows, celibacy can be a confusing subject. While few are called to practice Christian celibacy, it can offer meaning, clarity, and encouragement to all. Br. Lucas Hall invites us to discover in the witness of celibacy the invitation to surrender ourselves in trust, wholly and joyfully, to God’s love.


The toughest of the three monastic vows, obedience is not about hazing others into conformity, nor infantilizing grown adults, nor abdicating personal responsibility, but about discovering the freedom to be fully alive. Br. Curtis Almquist invites us all to embrace this rich fare for our souls.


If God were to turn to you and say, “I adore you!” what would your reaction be? Would your heart race, your face flush, and your palms sweat? Br. Jim Woodrum invites us to discover adoration as a way of knowing ourselves beloved by God. You are the apple of God’s eye. Don’t believe it? Try adoration and see.


All of us have parts of our lives that need protection for the simple reason that they are precious. We fence in our gardens, to keep them safe from predators, but what about our innermost goals, devotions, and relationships? Br. James Koester invites us to take up the essential monastic practice of enclosure: setting up intentional boundaries on our space and time. Through enclosure, we can foster those most precious qualities, relationships, and experiences, which the demands of life would otherwise devour.


More than just a feeling, gratitude is actually a practice: one we can cultivate and even develop, which will transform our experience of ourselves, our lives, and our world. Br. David Vryhof offers practical encouragement for rediscovering this essential, countercultural practice. Find out why there is always reason for gratitude.


In our moment in western culture, we assume self-sufficiency. Yet in the desert of contemporary life we are all wayfarers, dependant on the generosity of strangers for survival. None of us can make it alone. Br. Luke Ditewig invites us to the practice of hospitality, which is not simply about sharing meals or shelter, but about receiving and offering sustenance of a much deeper kind.


Humility has gotten bad press in the modern era. Too often, it has been associated with passivity, weakness, complacency, low self-esteem, or an unquestioning submission to authority. But true humility, as Jesus taught and modeled it, maintains a healthy balance between a proper self-esteem and an honest awareness and acceptance of our limitations, weaknesses, and faults. Br. David Vryhof explores this virtue that is at the heart of the monastic tradition, one which can help us to see the truth about ourselves and everyone else.


How should we deport ourselves in the presence of those who are different – because of their culture or race, religion, class, education, sexual orientation, age, hopes, or values? This age-old question has never been more pressing than in our own time. Br. Curtis Almquist invites us to the transformative practice of kindness, a necessary intervention for our disquieted world.

Life Together

Life together is the best … except when it’s not. Br. Curtis Almquist distills thirty years of life in community into a series of practical invitations for how we can live together, so that we will not only survive, but thrive with others.


Against the busyness, the tasks, the striving, and the strain the characterize so much of our lives, Br. Nicholas Bartoli offers the radical practice of doing nothing at all. In rest, we discover the stillness at our core. Resting, we can fall into the grace of God.


When was the last time you were silent? And what was the quality of that silence? Was it gloomy, angry, expectant, anxious, bored … or joyful? Br. James Koester invites us to embrace and experience the joy of silence.


Today we are overwhelmed and inundated with too much of everything: too many possessions, too much food, too much stimulation, too many activities, too much work, too much information, too many choices. Br. David Vryhof invites you to discover the freedom of simplicity.


Where are you from? It’s a simple question that, for many of us, has no simple answer. Yet our tendency to pick up and move on – from our homes, as well as from tough moments in our relationships and careers – can leave us feeling rootless and unsettled. Br. Luke Ditewig takes on our culture’s increasing mobility, inviting us to embrace instead the transformative power of staying put.


“What should I do with my life?” We never grow out of asking this question. The job we do to earn a living can fall short of being a vocation, and we’re left wondering if there is more to life. Br. Jonathan Maury invites us to listen for the eternal call of God, speaking in our circumstances and ushering us to the fullness of life we were born to discover.


In our Western society, we hate having to wait. We want everything now. Yet Br. Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE suggests that if we have lost touch with the wisdom of waiting in our life, we’ve lost touch with part of our soul. God likes us to wait. Discover why waiting is countercultural, radical, transformative, and true.


Life, for all its dreams and delight, can also be quite crushing. On dark days, or dull days, we can lose touch with the sheer joy of being alive. Br. Curtis Almquist invites us to rediscover wonder: the experience of living life in utter amazement. He offers from the monastic tradition two practices to rekindle wonder in our hearts.