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Monastic Wisdom


Thank you for your interest in Monastic Wisdom Monthly. Each month, a nugget of wisdom from the monastic tradition, illustrated with suggested spiritual practices to try today, reflection questions, and further resources. Subscribe here >


Explore past issues of Monastic Wisdom Monthly below:


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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 upintentional boundaries on our space andtime.Through enclosure, we can foster those most precious qualities, relationships, and experiences, whichthe demands of life would otherwise devour.


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. 


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.


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.


Glory is at the heart of John’s gospel and its promises about how Jesus reveals to us his Father. But what does “glory” mean? And, more importantly, what does it mean for us? Br. Keith Nelson uncovers the true meaning of glory in John’s gospel, and points us toward an intimate practice that can help us to discover how we participate in God’s glory.


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.


"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.


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.


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.