eople think they are in control of their life; the opposite is true.

"När du stiger upp på morgonen är allt just så som Kristus är i denna stund. Ingenting behöver ändras. Många människor försöker ända till ett annat tillstånd, som de saknar."

monastic wisdom series: number eight
Edited by Patrick Hart, ocso

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

Where Do We Go from Here?

monastic wisdom series

Patrick Hart, ocso, General Editor

Advisory Board
Michael Casey, ocso Terrence Kardong, osb
Lawrence S. Cunningham Kathleen Norris
Bonnie Thurston Miriam Pollard, ocso

MW1 Cassian and the Fathers:
Initiation into the Monastic Tradition

Thomas Merton, ocso

MW2 Secret of the Heart: Spiritual Being

Jean-Marie Howe, ocso

MW3 Inside the Psalms: Reflections for Novices

Maureen F. McCabe, ocso

MW4 Thomas Merton: Prophet of Renewal

John Eudes Bamberger, ocso

MW5 Centered on Christ: A Guide to Monastic Profession

Augustine Roberts, ocso

MW6 Passing from Self to God: A Cistercian Retreat

Robert Thomas, ocso

MW7 Dom Gabriel Sortias:
An Amazing Abbot in Turbulent Times

Guy Oury, osb

monastic wisdom series: number eight

A Monastic Vision
for the 21st Century

Where Do We Go from Here?

Edited by

Patrick Hart, ocso

Introduction by
Dom Bernardo Olivera, ocso

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Cistercian Publications, 2006
All rights reserved

Cistercian Publications

Editorial Offices
The Institute of Cistercian Studies
Western Michigan university
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008-5415

The work of Cistercian Publications is made possible in part by support from
Western Michigan University to The Institute of Cistercian Studies.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

A monastic vision for the 21st century : where do we go from here? /
edited by Patrick Hart ; introduction by Bernardo Olivera.

p. cm. — (Monastic wisdom series ; no. 8)
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN-13: 978-0-87907-057-1 (alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 0-87907-057-9 (alk. paper)
1. Monastic and religious life. I. Hart, Patrick. II. Title: Monastic
vision for the twenty-first century. III. Series.
BX2435.M587 2006

Printed in the United States of America

In grateful memory of Thomas Merton,
whose prophetic vision embraced
monasticism in all its expressions.


Foreword ix
Patrick Hart, ocso
Introduction xiii
Dom Bernardo Olivera, ocso
“Soli Deo Placere Desiderans” 1
Bonnie Thurston
Thoughts on Monasticism’s Possible Futures 23
Michael Casey, ocso
The Secret Ingredient 43
Kathleen Norris
Thoughts on the Future of Western Monasticism 57
Terrence Kardong, osb
Monasticism as a Schola:
Some Reflections from the Ivory Tower 73
Lawrence S. Cunningham
Old Vision for a New Age 89
Joan Chittister, osb
Monasticism: A Poetic Perspective 105
Robert Morneau, D.D.
Fragments for a Vision of Cistercian Life
in the 21st Century 119
John Eudes Bamberger, ocso

viii A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century
Enclosure: The Heart of the Matter
Gail Fitzpatrick, ocso
To What Holiness?
Monasticism and the Church Today
Francis Kline, ocso
The Fruits of Monasticism:
A View from Washington
Daniel P. Coughlin
North Woods Abbey: On Lake Gogebic
Mary Margaret Funk, osb
Epilogue: Lectio on the Easter Proclamation
Miriam Pollard, ocso
Notes on Contributors 231


Where Do We Go from Here?

by Patrick Hart, ocso

At the first meeting of the new board of directors of Cistercian
Publications following the “alliance” with Liturgical Press in
January of 2005 at Mepkin Abbey near Charleston, South Carolina,
the suggestion was made by the participants that we should
seriously consider publishing a volume of essays on the future
of monasticism. I was asked to contact not only monks and nuns
of the monastic tradition, but also laypersons who have had a very
real and deep experience of monasticism through their retreats
over the years.

My question was expressed this way: what can the church
and the world expect from monasticism in the 21st century and
how do you see it ideally incarnated for the future? I asked a
dozen persons to contribute to this volume which we felt would
be of interest not only to monks and nuns but those legions who
faithfully make retreats in our guest and retreat houses all over
the world. Then, too, witness the extraordinary popularity of
Taize, and more recently Bose in northern Italy where the same
kind of phenomenon unfolds before our eyes.

As anyone who has ever edited a volume of this kind will
realize, each participant approached the subject from a very personal
perspective. As far as I know none of the authors contacted
one another to compare notes as the work progressed. So we
ended up with a wide range of approaches to the topic, all quite
different from one another in their vision of what would be the
essence of an authentic monasticism for the years ahead.

Opening the volume is Bonnie Thurston’s clarion call from
her anchorage outside of Wheeling, West Virginia, which sets the

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

tone for what follows. I’m happy she includes in her very personal
essay two poems, which balance the prose poem of Sr. Miriam
Pollard’s in the Epilogue. They form bookends for the stimulating
and at times provocative presentations by both monks and
nuns of the Benedictine and Cistercian persuasions, mixed in
with laypersons who have a great love for the monastic life and
desire nothing so much as to see it continue to flourish in the
years to come with God’s help.

Of course, we all know that there is nothing in the Scriptures
which assures us that monasticism as we have known it in the
West will continue to the Parousia. We pray each day, and many
times a day, that the reign of God will be established in our midst,
although each particular form of monastic life may be altered in
various ways.

When I was younger in the monastic way I had dreams of
a kind of monasticism in the Christian West that would be open
to young men and women who after completing their college
work, and before deciding on a life situation, would retire to a
monastery for several years as part of their growth process, much
like Hindu and Zen Buddhist monks of the Far East have done
for centuries. Most of these men and women would return to
“the world” following their monastic training, which hopefully
would deepen their Christian commitment, and would prepare
them for the awesome responsibilities of raising a family in a
secular culture with its emphasis on doing and having rather than
on being. It was my hope that three or four years in a monastic
setting would deepen the person’s commitment to Christian
principles and develop moral values that would remain with these
young men and women for the rest of their lives. I also hoped
that some of these who after some years in the monastic milieu
would decide to make it their life’s vocation and enter the monastic
way as a permanent commitment.

The dozen authors have in the following pages explored
some of these possibilities with forthrightness which might prove
challenging. Fr. Michael Casey and Sr. Joan Chittister in particular
offer new ways of incarnating the monastic charism which
some may find provocative. Monks and nuns who have been
well seasoned in the monastic way, reflecting on their many years
of fidelity to the monasticism of the West as handed down to us,


now look to the future with ideas and suggestions that will undoubtedly
unsettle the satisfied, and satisfy the unsettled, to
paraphrase Dorothy Day’s dictum, “to disturb the comfortable
and to comfort the disturbed.”

Fr. Terrence Kardong’s stimulating presentation is a masterpiece
in its own right. He does not hesitate to quote Chesterton
in his closing remarks about Christianity not having been tried,
and suggests that we apply it to our efforts at monastic renewal
during the past half century. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Morneau
of Green Bay knows monasticism well having made retreats and
preached them to monks as well as to diocesan priests throughout
the world. He approaches the subject of the future of monasticism
from a poetic perspective (mainly George Herbert) which
is refreshing. Lawrence Cunningham of the university of Notre
Dame is a professor of theology who knows and loves monasticism
in all its expressions, and speaks from his particular “ivory
tower” with great insight.

The essays by Fr. John Eudes Bamberger of Genesee Abbey,
Sr. Gail Fitzpatrick of Mississippi Abbey, and Fr. Francis Kline of
Mepkin Abbey articulate a solid monastic vision built on a tradition
that goes back to its origins, although with an openness to
the Spirit’s work in our own times. They present the future of
monasticism as one in continuity with the past and present, but
still open to surprises of the Spirit.

Fr. Daniel P. Coughlin, chaplain to the House of Representatives,
writes of how his yearly retreats in monasteries, both Benedictine
and Cistercian, have sustained him in his ministry over
the years, both in his home diocese of Chicago, and more recently
in Washington, DC. Kathleen Norris has had many experiences
with monks over the years, especially at the Ecumenical Institute
at Collegeville, where she lived with her husband, the poet,
David Dwyer. Her writing in Cloister Walk and in her contribution
to this volume expresses well her deep and abiding love for the
monastic charism and how she was able to incarnate its values
as a writer over the years.

Finally, closing this volume is Sr. Mary Margaret Funk’s
creative imagination at work as she foresees a visitation in 2030 by
Irish Abbess Bridgit to her new foundation in northern Michigan.
The visiting abbess ends up learning more about the new vision

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

of monasticism from her dialogue with Abbess Gertrude and the
novices who experience a great desire for the mystical life. It
recalls Karl Rahner’s well-known saying that “in the future Christians
will be mystics or nothing at all.”

A word of gratitude is in order to each of the contributors
to this volume. May their insights encourage others to share their
vision of the new monasticism for the 21st century and the centuries
to follow.


A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

by Dom Bernardo Olivera, ocso

Institutions with a long history and a tradition built up over
the centuries usually look more at the past than at the future.
Based on what we can see, Christian monastic life as it exists
today in western, North-Atlantic countries is no exception to this
tendency. That is why a book that tries to steer the monastic
vision into the future is one that stirs us up from lethargy,
challenges us, encourages us, and even fills us with a new enthusiasm.

Human history shows a certain continuity in its ongoing
processes. Sudden shifts are rare. This makes it easy to say that
monastic life in tomorrow’s world will be in continuity with the
past even though open to new developments and exposed to the
inevitable uncertainty of the future. In other words, it will be
the same as now, but different, with the same basic motivation
behind it, but in new historical forms which will always be
contingent on the circumstances.

For better or for worse, I am quite shortsighted when it
comes to periods of time. My shortsightedness makes me easily
confuse the future with the projection of my own desires. When
I am asked for a word about the future of monastic life, necessity
rather than virtue makes me only able to talk about my longings
and hopes, my desires and my dreams.

To put it briefly, my desires for the future of monasticism
are reduced to longing for a monastic life deeply rooted in the
Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ for the glory of God the Father
and the divinization of men, women, and the universe. Realism,
common sense, and good humor oblige me today to talk about

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

monastic re-evangelization. This gospel process implies three
different realities which are intimately related one to another,
namely, refounding, renewing, and reforming monastic life.


Refounding refers to grounding our existence in the mystical
experience of those who first founded the monastic way of
life. There is a transforming encounter with the Absolute One.
This encounter is the fruit of a dedicated search for the Living
God. Search and encounter are lived in the purified passion
which longs for his Presence.

It is worth repeating that the inner substance and purpose
of this quaerere Deum is obviously the loving encounter with God.
All monastic life is a way to this end, and this way is traveled
every day, thanks to a certain number of meditations or exercitia.
Among the exercises practiced yesterday, today, and always, the
following should be listed: silent and continual prayer, liturgical
prayer centered in the Eucharist, lectio divina, the asceticism of
fasting, Vigils, work, voluntary poverty, and the different renunciations
(chastity and obedience) leading to the heart’s conversion
and purification, with everything lived in a climate of solitude
and silence.

Our cenobitic search for God is lived in a context of interpersonal
and communal relationships. Koinonia, or life in the
communion of love, is also essential to our monastic tradition.
We search for and find God in community. Saint Benedict says it
succinctly: “May he bring us all together to everlasting life!”
(RB 72,12). We can add something more: each brother or sister is
a “sanctuary” where we can meet God, since the Lord dwells in
each of them.

To sum up, it is obvious to all seekers of God that the most
important reality in their life is finding him. It is precisely that
encounter which makes eminently worthwhile all the pains and
crosses of their search. Monastic life loses all its meaning if
mystical or contemplative union with God is taken away, since
it is God himself who calls, purifies, embraces, and transforms
the human person by means of the dazzling shadows of divine


Love. If monastic life in the future is not a living, updated edition
of the Song of Songs, it will have very little to say to tomorrow’s
generations! Monastic foundations in the future have to be
founded on the conviction that without mystery there is no
mysticism and without mysticism there is no monasticism.


Renewal refers to the fact of rooting the human heart in the
New Covenant with its new commandment of loving God and
one’s neighbor as Christ has loved us. It is a single, yet double,
precept which finds its unity in preferring nothing to the love of
Christ, who is God made man for our salvation. The radical
nature of this option for Christ is experienced in ardent and
measureless love for one another.

Our monastic life today opens up to an unknown future. We
are invited to follow Jesus by embracing the blessed radicalism of
the Gospel. Our future will depend on our reply to this challenge.
It is not a question of having a monopoly on the radical following
of Christ, but of being faithful to our identity. The words of Jesus
are challenging: Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect (Mt 5:49).
The Master is telling us that our life does not consist of traditions,
usages, permissions, and observances, but in the perfection of a
love which identifies us with the Father who is in heaven. This
requirement of love brings us to the very roots of Jesus’ teaching,
namely the kingdom of God as Father of every human person
and the universal brotherhood or sisterhood that flows from this
divine fatherhood. Radical nuns and monks are those who are
rooted and grounded in love (Eph 3:17), rooted in him and built up on
him (Col 2:7). If we believe—as I hope we do—that he loved us
and gave himself up for us, there is only one option possible: to
die in order to live in him and to serve everyone.


Reform refers to the historical or institutional form that our
monastic life assumes in order to become culturally or counter

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

culturally meaningful. History teaches us that the spiritual
experience of any religious founder instinctively seeks forms of
institutionalization so as to become meaningfully communicable.
These institutional forms are always provisional, conditioned by
times and places. Their relevance is determined by a double
criterion, namely the ability to promote the spiritual experience
of the founder and the possibility of bearing a meaningful witness
to the Church and the world.

This is where we are today. We are invited to be creative in
order to be faithful to tradition and to the Giver of all charisms
in the Church. More specifically, crucial decisions will often have
to be discerned and made. The object of our discernment and
options could be:

• re-dimensioning our buildings according to the size of the
present community;
• reordering our economic structure in relation to a globalizing
world which shoves its poorer elements to one side. Yet this
reordering must avoid getting caught up in this world to the
detriment of the poor;
• readjusting our work so as to have it serve the spiritual purpose
of our existence;
• inculturating our liturgies so that they express with greater
feeling our worship of God in spirit and truth;
• simplifying the forms taken by authority, to make it serve the
community and each person in particular both affectionately
and effectively;
• examining the meaningfulness of many of our symbols,
customs, and forms of expression;
• searching for new forms in which to live some traditional
values, such as fasting, poverty, austerity, solitude, silence,
and fraternal correction.
As monks and nuns we certainly have a long story to tell
and, with God’s help, we also have a story to create. There is a
special place reserved in purgatory for those monks and nuns of

Introduction xvii

all ages who sin by being slavishly faithful to tradition instead
of daring to be creative so as to hand on an enriched tradition to
others. There is also a corner prepared for those who reform
without renewing or, still worse, without making sure of where
they are starting from.

In the context of monastic re-evangelization, experience
teaches us two things: that it is easier to raise up a dead monk
than to convert a live one, and that it is harder to reason with a
founding nun than to motivate an installed one. Dead or alive,
retrogrades or pioneers, asleep or awake, we all dream of a more
authentic future and, if many of us have the same dream at the
same time, we can be sure that it will become a reality.

Perhaps in the past we have been too “prudent” and now
we are too “farsighted.” We need a little more passion and slightly
less logic! Not, however, any type of passion, but God’s own
passion. It is this passion of divine love that made him become
man, preach the revolution of the Kingdom of heaven, and finally
undergo the supreme passion: dying on a cross out of love so
that we also can learn to love.


by Bonnie Thurston


The invitation of Jesus to His apostles when they return
weary from the mission on which He sent them (Mark 6:7-13)
contains the whole of the monastic project: “Come away by yourselves
to a lonely place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). To “come
away” is to separate one’s self from everyday life, the larger
whole, to be set aside for a special task, which is the theological
meaning of “holy.” It encompasses the renunciatory aspect of
monasticism. “By yourselves” seems to suggest the solitude of
an individuated life, one which resists the conformity and “mass
produced-ness” of society. But as the pronoun in Greek is plural,
it is, in fact, an invitation to alternative community, to relationship
with all who choose to withdraw. “To a desert place” conjures
up images of the geographical remoteness traditionally associated
with great monastic (especially Cistercian) houses. But “desert”
can be understood in contrast to “city.” To be invited to the desert
is an invitation to leave what passes for society, to leave the cultural
norm for a holier alternative. The “desert” is the place where
one meets self and God. “Rest” encompasses that greatest (and
most neglected?) of monastic virtues, the end toward which the
life is organized: leisure. To rest is not to be idle, but to avoid
frenetic activity that prevents deep confrontation with who one
truly is. To “rest” is to give up care and anxiety, to cast all one’s
cares on the One who cares ultimately for us. As Jacques Winandy,

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

former Abbot of Clervaux in Luxembourg, wrote, “To reform a
monastery is to restore its rest.”1

It is from this invitation of our Lord to come away and rest
that monasticism arises. That invitation is the foundational idea
behind the following remarks. Authors in this volume were asked
to write essays describing the “monastic vision and how the monastic
charism could be incarnated in the new millennium. Also,
what could the church and the world expect from such an authentic
monastic witness during the 21st century?” When I asked
for clarification, it was suggested that I (who am not “technically”
a vowed monastic but who has long acquaintance with monastic
literature and has recently been living as a “semi-solitary”) write
about “how the monastic charism can be lived today, and what
the church and the world expect from this kind of life.” It says
something at the outset when a well-known Cistercian asks a
Protestant woman to write on the future of monasticism.

One of the first things that came to her mind is that the last
500 years and the Western church are not normative for two
millennia of Christianity. As Enzo Bianchi, Prior of the Monastery
of Bose, notes “monasticism precedes the divisions in the church”2
(italics his). It includes, but does not begin with St. Basil of Caesarea
and St. Benedict of Nursia. St. Benedict of Aniane (d. 821) persuaded
Charlemagne to require all monasteries in the Empire to follow
the Benedictine rule, and this had enormous consequence, but
there have been many forms of religious life both before and after
St. Benedict of Nursia. For example, from the mid-4th century
the Egyptian church knew an urban monasticism in which fuga
mundi (“flight from the world,” “coming away” as per Jesus’
invitation) was relative.

Again, while the suppression of the monasteries and hermitages
in England in 1537–38, and the general Protestant resistance
to monasticism, had great effects, they did not “stamp out” this
form of Christian life. What pleases God will endure. Indeed,

1 Jacques Winandy, “Benedictine Spirituality,” p. 28. (unfortunately I cannot
give full citation as this material is from a chapter of a book sent to me without
bibliographical reference.)

2 Enzo Bianchi, “Monastic Life and the Ecumenical Dialogue,” booklet printed
by the Monastery of Bose (Magnano, Italy, 2001), of the text of a talk given on
August 26, 1999, p. 9. Hereafter “Monastic Life.”

“Soli Deo Placere Desiderans”

there have been several forms of Protestant “monasticism” (for
example the Bruderhoff and other sects of the radical reformation
in Europe, the Shakers in America, or the Communaute de
Grandchamp). The Augustinian, Martin Luther, was critical of
monastic life, but later Kierkegaard understood it as “a reminder
of the difference between following Christ and worldliness. Then,
with Adolf von Harnack, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Karl Barth, the
monastic forma vitae once again began to be accepted as legitimate
and evangelical.”3As recently as the 1980s some American Protestant
intellectuals called for “some protestant form of monasticism
to restore a lost dimension of spirituality.”4 I think it is
precisely its spirituality that monasticism has to offer the church
and the world, and as Thomas Merton noted in his essay “Basic
Principles of Monastic Spirituality,” “in its essentials—solitude,
poverty, obedience, silence, humility, manual labour, prayer and
contemplation—monastic spirituality does not change.”5

What seems currently to be the diminishment of monastic
life, manifested in a decreasing number of traditional (and this
is crucial) vocations, may, in the great sweep of Christian history,
prove to be anomalous. Certainly experimental and ecumenical
monastic foundations like Taize in France and Bose in Italy are
flourishing. It is my sense that monasticism is not in a period of
decline, but of change. The two are very different. That brings
me to my own life and its relationship to the question at hand.
I suspect I was asked to contribute to this volume because after
27 years as an academic I resigned a professorship in New Testament
to live a solitary life more or less in the “relaxed” mode of
the hermits of the Celtic church before the Synod of Whitby or
the English church of the 14th century, living the life but without
formal vows (a matter which troubles my vowed hermit friends).

Where does monasticism go from here? What is the monastic
vision for the 21st century? For me the “way forward” is in the
hermitage. For monasticism generally, I suspect the way forward

3 Bianchi, “Monastic Life,” 4.

4 James T. Baker, “Benedict’s Children and Their Separated Brothers and
Sisters,” The Christian Century XCVII/39 (December 3, 1980) 1191.

5 In Thomas Merton, The Monastic Journey (Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and
McMeel, Inc., 1977) 36. Hereafter Monastic Journey.

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

is back to the roots, but roots freshly envisioned and newly articulated.
In our age poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability have
the ring of iron on the anvil of life, harsh, and if not harsh, unattainable.
So the question becomes “what is the spirituality or
life stance or Christian virtue that each of the traditional vows is
intended to encourage?”6

As a way of getting at the “attractions” of the monastic tradition,
my essay begins with the story of my response to Jesus’ invitation
to “come away” and with my working out a rule of life.
The point is not self-revelation (horrors!), but a description of
how monasticism as I knew it helped shape my life. Essentially
what drew me to the monastic way was its hospitality, openheartedness,
and detachment. Thus, the second, and more substantive,
part of this essay describes these monastic gifts to church
and world. The reader might wish to progress directly to that


I have enormous hesitation about writing autobiographically.
I am, in the words of a Jesuit psychologist friend, an “offthe-
scale introvert,” a private person with a strong sense of “who
would care?” But if the issue is the evolution of monasticism, it
may be of some value to see how it has evolved in one person’s
life. Perhaps it will provide encouragement—or be a cautionary
tale. For good or ill, a life has a teaching function, just as the
monastery has a teaching function by being what it is. Prior Enzo
Bianchi of Bose notes “we reveal the reality of the kingdom of
God through the way we live.”7 Or not.

I was raised by faithful parents in the Christian Church, was
“religious” as a child and observant my whole life. From high
school I followed an academic path because I was good at going

6 I treat this issue in a small book published by Liturgical Press entitled Religious
Vows, the Sermon on the Mount, and Christian Living. There I recast each vow
in terms of the spiritual virtue it hopes to develop.

7 Enzo Bianchi, “What Spirituality Does Monastic Life Offer the Church?”
booklet printed by the Monastery of Bose (Magnano, Italy, 2001), of the text of a
talk given on February 20, 2000, p. 12. Hereafter “What Spirituality.”

“Soli Deo Placere Desiderans”

to school. I didn’t know that being good at something doesn’t
necessarily mean you should give your heart to it. I did a B.A. in
English and philosophy at a small church-related liberal arts
college and an M.A. in English literature at a large public university.
Like St. Benedict, as a young person I studied literature.
In the course of Ph.D. work, cartier replica sale because of the influence of a glorious
parish church and a disturbing religious vision, my interest
shifted from literature to the spiritual life. I wrote one of the early
dissertations on Thomas Merton which introduced me to monasticism
and to world religions which, along with scripture,
I subsequently taught.

During the 1970s, the period of my graduate work, I frequented
the Anglican convent of All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor
in Catonsville, Maryland. It is a great mystery that, although I did
not have a vocation to that contemplative community, it shaped
the rest of my life. A poem which I wrote on September 23, 1978,
while not a literary masterpiece, introduces the themes that for
me are the essence of rolex replica uk monasticism: hospitality, stability, openness
and community.

“All Saints Convent”

In an indifferent world,
Detached from the sands of time,
Your house stands on a rock
And gathers the faceless ones
Around a table
Where the undeserving
Are honored guests.

We come from darkness,
Bring our hungers and thirsts.
We join you, kneel at dawn
under a single, amber light
No more strangers,
But sisters in the Silence
Who speaks us all.

Twenty years into an academic career, I experienced an
insistent sense of dis-ease with my work (with which everybody
else seemed happy). On retreat in 1995 the idea of life as a solitary

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

arose. That year I left a Jesuit college to teach at a Presbyterian
seminary, a place that was generous to me, but where I never felt
at home. As Thomas Merton’s friend, Robert Lax, quipped, “If
you find you’re part of a community that starts to hiss at you it’s
time to leave.”8 Increasingly I understood that what I have to
offer in midlife is not best given in the academic context with its
sharp divide between head and heart.

With the help of my spiritual and financial advisors I made
practical plans to move toward something like a hermit’s life. It
is clear that I am an anchorite, not a cenobite; I probably need a
warning label that says “does not play well with others”! Solitude
assumes a basically ordered life, some degree of spiritual maturity,
and accountability to spiritual authority. As Cassian noted,
“If we retire to solitude or secret places, without our faults being
first cured, their operation is but repressed, while the power of
feeling them is not extinguished.”9 Quite. I wish I had known
then that the setting up of a hermitage invites close attention of
the powers of evil who play out their contest in the heart of the
hermit.10 I owned a modest home on 2••• acres of ground, had a
small pension (I was widowed in 1990 after 10 years of marriage11),
no debt, and few desires for “worldly goods.” I figured
(correctly) that I could supplement my income by giving retreats
and talks and writing. I realized this was a trade-off, and I wouldn’t
be a “real” hermit, but it seemed necessary.

As the externals fell into place, I wrote a rule of life, in part
because monasticism always invites persons to live ordered
lives.12 In Genesis, God moves over the face of chaos to create an

8 Quoted in Peter France, Hermits: The Insights of Solitude (New York: St. Martin’s
Press, 1996) 202.

9 Cassian, “Conference of Abbot John,” Chapter 12 in Philip Schaff and Henry
Wace (eds.), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (New York: The Christian Literature
Company, 1894) 494. (Material by Cassian edited by Edgar C. S. Gibson.)

10 Mother Mary Clare, slg, “Eremitical Revival in the Anglican Church in the
20th Century,” in A. M. Allchin (ed.), Solitude and Communion: Papers on the
Hermit Life (Fairacres, Oxford: S.L.G. Press, 1977/1983) 73. Hereafter Solitude and

11 For how this fit into my monastic bent see my article “Monasticism and
Marriage,” Contemplative Review 7/1 (Winter, 1984).

12 See Bonnie Thurston, “Rules of Life,” Spirituality 9/47 (March/April, 2003)

“Soli Deo Placere Desiderans”

ordered universe. That is also the paradigm for the emergence
of the spiritual life. However monasticism evolves (and like every
other species, if it does not evolve, it will die), that evolution will
not abandon ordering principles for the life because as Esther de
Waal writes “a well-ordered life-style is more likely to encourage
holiness than a badly-organized one.”13

In fact a “rule of life” is another monastic contribution to the
church and the world. In the current climate the notion of living
a structured life is countercultural and wildly unpopular. “Doing
your own thing” is dated ’60s language, but very much in evidence
in the way people live. Yet the call to a serious Christian
is to be obedient to a God who has given the beloved, chosen
people a structure within which to flourish. Realistically, everyone
is constrained by something; “what?” is the crucial question.
To what will we be obedient? As readers of this essay know,
“obedience” comes from the Latin obedire which shares a root
with audire “to hear.” And, yes, St. Benedict’s rule begins Obsculata,
listen, “attend . . . with the ear of your heart.”14 At its best,
obedience to a rule of life inclines the whole person (the “heart”)
toward “hearing” God. Choosing (in my case, writing) a rule of
life implies choice of that to which we will be obedient, to which
we will listen.

“Rule” reflects the Greek kanon (which can be translated
“limit, sphere, or rule”) and the Latin regula, “trellis.” A trellis
supports a plant’s growth heavenward; it supports what can’t
support itself. People don’t do very well without a structure or
point of focus (as any undisciplined child or lawless society
illustrates). An explicit trellis for life gives the structure in which,
to paraphrase Thomas Merton, our freedom can “deploy itself
in joy.”15 This joy is the reason for Jesus’ teachings: “These things
I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your
joy may be full” (“matured” or “perfected” John 15:11). The reason

13 Esther de Waal, Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict (Collegeville: Liturgical
Press, 1984) 116. Hereafter Seeking God.

14 Quotations from the Rule are from Timothy Fry, osb (ed.), The Rule of
St. Benedict (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1981) 157. Hereafter Rule.

15 Thomas Merton, “Time and the Liturgy,” in Seasons of Celebration (New York:
Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1950/1977) 46.

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

for submitting to a rule of life is to foster more complete love of
God and to perfect joy. As recently martyred Br. Roger of Taize
wrote “if you submit to a . . . rule, you can only do so on account
of Christ and the Gospel. . . . So, far from groaning under the
burden of a rule, rejoice . . .”16

I realize that I am “preaching to the choir,” but in my own
journey it was significant to study monastic rules and to write
my own. It kept me grounded in the fact that, even for solitaries,
monastic life is communal and that, especially for solitaries, it is
crucial to regulate daily activity with regard to prayer, work, and
rest. This is the practical value of a rule; it helps keep life properly
oriented, ordered, balanced, and simplified. Order, balance, and
simplicity hardly characterize life “in the world” today. (The
essence of the rule I devised appears in an appendix to this

Having given you a glimpse of the monastic context in my
own life, I now turn to what I take to be its basic life orientations
and the values they offer the church and the world. I do so knowing
the “newly converted” can be nauseatingly enthusiastic and
with apologies to the real monastics who already know all this.


The traditional “gifts” of monasticism are found in its basic
vows: poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability, each of which is
intended to grow the monastic toward greater balance and simplicity,
to hone the personality to receive more completely Christ’s
gift of love. Conversatio morum and the practices of Lectio Divina,
and liturgical and contemplative prayer are also significant aspects
of the monastic charism. The practical questions are: What
are the manifestations of these vows and charisms that draw souls
to monasticism? How might they be articulated for the future?
I suggest three monastic attitudes that attracted me, that have
remained constant throughout the history of Christian monasticism,
and that I think will endure: hospitality, open heartedness,

16 Br. Roger of Taize, Parable of Community (London: Mowbray, 1984) 11.

“Soli Deo Placere Desiderans”

and detachment. These three attitudes are intrinsically interrelated
and are the fruit of monastic profession when it is well
lived by the individual and the community.


Hospitality is simply the gracious reception of the guest
(Latin hospitalis, “of a guest”), any guest. It is a response to Christ’s
statement, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty
and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me”
(Matt 25:35). This word of the Lord is the basis of St. Benedict’s
chapter on the reception of guests which opens “All guests who
present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.”17 Similarly in
the Regula Orientalis the porter is enjoined “to welcome everyone
coming within the gates, giving them a respectful greeting with
humility and reverence . . .”18 (italics in both quotations mine).
Interestingly, in all the resurrection appearance stories in the
Gospels, the risen Christ always appears (rather like the angels
to Abraham in Genesis 18 or the mysterious, heavenly beings to
Jacob in Gen 32:22-32) as the “other,” the stranger, the unrecognized
one. In a world which increasingly fears, shuns, and demonizes
the other, monastics stand ready to “take in” rather than
“close off” others precisely because, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta
noted, Christ often comes in “unfortunate disguises.” In this
context, it is useful to remember that the Latin connotation of
“guest” is somewhat darker than the English word; hostis means
“stranger” and “enemy.” So monastic hospitality implies entertaining
not only the known and invited beloved ones, but those
unexpected arrivals with whom one might be at enmity.

In reading the literature of the 4th-century monastics I am
struck by the absence of judgment or condemnation of guests
who arrive. Generally they are received without judgment of the
state in which they arrive. The “Second Rule of the Fathers”
commands, “Let one offer to an arriving traveler nothing more
than a humble reception and peace; let him not be otherwise

17 Rule 255.

18 Carmela Vircillo Franklin et al. Transl. Early Monastic Rules (Collegeville:
Liturgical Press, 1982) 75.

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

concerned—where he came from, why he came . . .”19 A major
distinction between a private house and monastic houses is that
the former characteristically invites chosen friends and the latter
accepts whomever shows up. When I first received monastic
hospitality, I was often staggered by the variety of people who sat
together at table. Now I find it not only delightful, but a powerful
image of those who come “from east and west, and from north
and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:29).
In this way, monasticism provides a living image of God’s reign
and aspiration for human community.

And in a world of individualism, monastic hospitality is a
reminder of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “life together.”

The prisoner, the sick person, the Christian in exile sees in
the companionship of a fellow Christian a physical sign of
the gracious presence of the triune God. Visitor and visited
in loneliness recognize in each other the Christ who is
present in the body; they receive and meet each other as one
meets the Lord, in reverence, humility, and joy. They receive
each other’s benedictions as the benediction of the Lord
Jesus Christ.20

Whether we recognize it or not, we live together in a web of interdependence.
Certainly this is true on the material and economic
and political levels. But it is also true at a deeper level. In The Way
of Simplicity: The Cistercian Tradition Esther de Waal notes, “having
nothing of one’s own is to need others, and more than that, to
need God.”21 Interdependence is profoundly true on the spiritual
level where we live together in the community of mutual need.
In that community, as A. M. Allchin has written, we live not by
asserting self against others, but by finding self in and through
others.22 This implies that somewhere we encounter the other.
Where shall we do this except in a community where all comers

19 Franklin 35. And recall numerous of the stories of the desert fathers and

20 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (London: SCM Press, Ltd., 1958) 10.

21 Esther de Waal, The Way of Simplicity: The Cistercian Tradition (Maryknoll:
Orbis Books, 1998) 74. Hereafter Way of Simplicity.

22 A. M. Allchin, “The Solitary Vocation. Some Theological Considerations,”
Solitude and Communion 4.

“Soli Deo Placere Desiderans”

are taken in with respect and reverence and love? And where, in
our world, does that community exist if not in the church? Rowan
Williams has written, “The church is the community of those
who live in God-like relation to one another.” “The church is the
community of those so overwhelmed by their indebtedness to
God’s free grace, that they live in a state of glad and grateful
indebtedness to one another.”23 The monastery with its familial
structure of Abba and Amma and brothers and sisters is the historic
venue for this grand vision of life together.

I am suggesting that monasticism provides the balance to
the rampant and (dare I say it?) repulsive individualism in American
(if not Western) culture. At its best monastic hospitality
images the openness of God who accepts all comers. And that
hospitality encompasses not only the welcoming of the human
guest, but of the divine guest and of unfamiliar thoughts and
ideas. The gift of ora, of monastic worship, falls in the category
of hospitality as it represents both the human longing for God
to be present among us and the human response to God’s invitation
to communion. Worship and liturgy are acts of hospitality
on both these levels. In worship and liturgy we host and receive
the Host. As Merton noted, “Liturgy demands of us the sacrifice
of what is merely individualistic and eccentric in our lives . . .”24
By means of common worship we “pilgrims through this barren
land” enter the household of God and are thus saved from ourselves.
“There can be no doubt that it is through the liturgy that
they [monks] enter into the intimate life of the Church, and make
their own its thoughts, its sentiments, its interests.”25 This is true
not only for monastics, but for all Christians.

Similarly, hospitality extends to ideas as well as persons.
Scripture has been the preeminent “word” of monastic life, and
it should remain so. But, historically monasteries were centers
of learning, cauldrons in which new ideas stewed. This openness
to new thinking, to unfamiliar ideas needs, once again, to be
imaged for the larger society for we live in a period of history

23 Rowan Williams, Christian Imagination in Poetry and Polity (Fairacres, Oxford:
SLB Press, 2004) 8.

24 Merton, Monastic Journey 29.

25 Winandy 45.

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

when “different” or “unfamiliar” is equated with “dangerous”
or “evil.” The spiritual reading that monastic life encourages can
be an example of the opening of the intellectual and inner or heart
life to the ideas of others. We use the idiom “entertain ideas,” but
in what contexts do we do it? Such openness is vital in the Rule of
Taize which says simply and powerfully, “Love your neighbour,
whatever his religious or ideological point of view.”26 Especially
in this era of bitter polemics and polarization, it is important to
have an example of and a place where new and different ideas
and thoughts can be welcomed, listened to, discussed, and understood
if not always agreed with or ultimately accepted. The kind
of hospitality of which I am speaking, the gracious and reverent
welcome of the guest, human, divine, and ideological, can only
occur in an atmosphere of openheartedness.


The life orientation that allows one to be hospitable is openheartedness.
Br. David Steindl-Rast, osb, has written movingly
on the heart. “Whenever we speak of the heart, we mean the
whole person. Only at heart are we whole. The heart stands for
that center of our being where we are one with ourselves, one
with all others, one with God.”27 Openheartedness allows us to
be hospitable and generous, but it presumes that we have found,
know, and live from our hearts. What precedes living from the
vital heart center is often brokenheartedness. The shell around
the heart must be broken for the life within to emerge. And when
it does, it emerges into the center of the life of God and thus of
all people. But the process of rending and healing is unavoidable
and requires “heart hospitals,” places where the sick at heart and
the brokenhearted can be nursed to health. On the psychic level
this can be done by psychiatrists and psychologists, but in what
William Butler Yeats called “the deep heart’s core,” the spiritual
center of personality, another physic is required, one monasticism

26 Br. Roger 13.

27 Br. David Steindl-Rast, osb, Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer (New York:
Paulist Press, 1984) 202. And see also his book A Listening Heart (New York: Crossroad,

“Soli Deo Placere Desiderans”

has traditionally provided by means of its guest houses and
spiritual directors.

Openhearted living requires the psychological health that
comes from existential knowledge of one’s self as profoundly
loved. The ultimate expression of such love is God’s openhearted
gift of self on the cross. A few great saints and mystics received
that love directly. Most of us first encounter it reflected in the
love of another. Our task is not only to learn to reflect such love,
but to learn how to receive it as gift even as our Lord received
the gift of the anointing woman (Mark 14:3-9). That means we
need to encounter unselfish lovers and generous communities
of love. Ideally, the monastery is a place where people live from
the heart, and thus monasticism can be the “place” and “means”
of opening the heart center to the gift of love, accepting it, dispensing
it. Many of us seek monastic hospitality precisely be-
cause it is loving, and we all need to be loved.

We live in a culture that has taken all too seriously the old,
Wild West image of circling up the wagons. In a culture of “close
up and protect,” “open deeply and give away” is especially important.
Certainly this is related to the more commonly known
monastic ideal of detachment from “things,” but, more profoundly,
it has to do with self offering which is the fruit of openheartedness.
Madison Avenue stands or falls on its ability to sell
us things for self-preservation: bigger, “safer” cars or houses;
cosmetics; drugs; gadgets. Often, ironically, called “time savers,”
we waste our time preserving these things and are, in fact, owned
by our stuff. Esther de Waal reminds us that “Absorption in the
world is the slavery to things . . .” and that “Christian freedom
lies precisely in liberation from the oppressive power that they
can exercise.”28 Our culture teaches us to “save ourselves,” while
our Lord teaches us to give ourselves away. “For whoever would
save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake
and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35). Monasteries should be
places where neither self nor stuff is hoarded but freely given,
and thus opened up to full and joyful life, and, consequently,
“saved.” The Greek word for “save” and “heal” is the same

28 de Waal, Seeking God 102.

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

This attitude of openheartedness encompasses the traditional
monastic vows of poverty and chastity because they are a
move, not away from, but toward the poor and marginalized,
and this movement is from a position of solidarity and freedom
from possession. Living from a stance of openheartedness means
living in koinonia, in common, in community with all the needy
in the world whether or not we are physically living a cenobitic
life. They are us. Evagrius said the monk is one who is separated
from the world and united to all. Openheartedness is a return to
a kind of interior mendicancy; it allows us to realize the universality
of human need for “things” and for love, to experience our
own need, and to respond without possessiveness to that need
in others. Which is to say that those who aspire to be monastics
must take up the begging bowls of the heart.

In this regard the Benedictine insistence on working with
the hands (labora) retains its vital importance. Working with our
own hands (or backs or minds or what ever part of ourselves that
God calls us to offer, but especially with the body), opens the
heart to those who work with the hands by necessity and who
constantly live “on the edge.” Those who have not experienced
“tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness,
or peril, or sword” (Rom 8:37) sometimes exhibit a shocking lack
of compassion toward those who regularly suffer them. Hard
work, hunger (fasting), experience of uncomfortable heat or cold,
chastity, all the traditional asceticisms, are tools that chisel the
barnacles from the heart.

But openheartedness is also a corrective for too severe
asceticism. “Flight from the world” has sometimes been mistaken
for flight from the good creation and the good body. This is bad
theology and worse practice. In his book A Listening Heart
Br. David Steindl-Rast, osb, makes a plea for “sacred sensuousness”
and “sensuous asceticism.” “The path to God,” he writes,
“starts at the gates of perception.”29 “Alistening heart recognizes
in the throbbing of reality pulsating against all our senses the
heartbeat of divine life at the core of all that is real.”30According

29 Steindl-Rast, A Listening Heart 27.
30 Ibid., 45.

“Soli Deo Placere Desiderans”

to Br. David, the body is made transparent for such experience
by sensuous asceticism.

So the call of the openhearted life is also a call to openheartedness
toward ourselves, including sister or brother flesh
which is not evil, but impermanent. Mastery of this transitory
body, not domination of it, is what I think St. Benedict had in
mind when he said in the Prologue to The Rule that he hoped
“to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome.” But, he continued,
“The good of all concerned . . . may prompt us to a little
strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”31
Amending our faults and increasing our love are exercises for
heart health. The danger of asceticism is vanity and pride, both
of which close the heart. Its value is humility (humus, the common
stuff of our common life) which connects us to others and
further opens our hearts.

Silence is, as well, an aspect of openheartedness. Abbot
Winandy wrote, “silence imposes a barrier that puts a stop to the
sallies of a particularly refractory faculty.”32 Creating an atmosphere
of silence around ourselves gives others who approach
us space to live and breathe. Andre Louf says that silence “establishes
a zone of peace and quiet around the one who is silent,
where God can be irresistibly felt as present.”33 And it is also
important because silence creates the environment for listening,
and listening is an important kind of openness to others. Careful,
nonjudgmental listening is the way the heart offers hospitality.
To listen to ourselves, to other people, to new ideas, to the creation,
to God is to practice another of the monastic skills that our
noise-polluted world ignores to its peril.


If hospitality requires openheartedness, then openheartedness
requires detachment, that extraordinary ability to allow
things and people to be as they are. It is important to understand
that detachment is not indifference, not an absence of caring.

31 Rule 165.
32 Winandy 43.
33 Quoted in de Waal, Way of Simplicity 79.

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

Etymologically, “detached” means “set apart” (and is thus related
to the concept of holiness, that which is “set apart” for a sacred
purpose), or “unconnected,” and therefore possessing a certain
freedom. We are speaking of passionate separateness not cold
impartiality. A Carthusian writes in They Speak By Silences, “Too
often people imagine that Christian detachment consists in loving
nothing. This is terribly wrong. Never has there been a heart
more loving than the heart of Jesus, and our hearts should be
modelled [sic] on His.”34 Br. David Steindl-Rast concurs when
he explains, “. . . detachment is not a withdrawal from love, but
an expansion of love beyond desire.”35 Detachment is for the sake
both of freedom and of love, that disinterested desire, and when
possible work, for the good of another. Hospitality, openheartedness,
and detachment all provide alternatives to the dominant,
cultural mode. They are the way we demonstrate what St. Paul
asserted, that “our commonwealth [or “citizenship”] is in heaven”
(Phil 3:20). But it is detachment that gives monasticism its moral

For most people the functional center of the universe is the
self, the family, the workplace, perhaps the parish. Most people
are so enmeshed in the surface aspects of life in the world and,
in particular, in the “givens” of their particular circumstances
and cultures that they either lose sight of, or never raise their
eyes to see the larger human or cosmic picture. The translation
of Psalm 17:14-15 in the Episcopal Daily Office Book (Year One)
describes the issue with this petition: “Deliver me, O Lord, by
your hand / from those whose portion is life in this world; /
Whose bellies you fill with your treasure, / who are well supplied
with children and leave their wealth to their little ones.” The
Psalmist continues, “But at my vindication I shall see your face;
/ when I awake, I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness”
(Ps 17:16).

Let us admit that there exists an almost universally unacknowledged
slavery to custom, culture, and “fashion,” to con-
sumerism and “affluenza.” Most of us in the world operate with

34 n.a., They Speak By Silences (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications,
1966) 24.

35 Steindl-Rast, A Listening Heart 101.

“Soli Deo Placere Desiderans”

a “my country (or family or church or political system or race or
economic system or—particularly insidiously—taste) right or
wrong” attitude. “Our part is to detach ourselves from all these
attachments, big or little, which hold us bound . . . so that we
can be free to be guided by God.”36 At its best, monasticism awakens
one from these limitations to the awareness of God and God’s
perspective. In fact, in the last talk he gave, Thomas Merton defined
the monk as “essentially someone who takes up a critical
attitude toward the world and its structures.”37 Only those who
have some measure of detachment and autonomy from “the way
things are,” from the false “authority” of “they say” and the
commonly accepted “way” can step back and ask the important
question, “why is it this way?” Only those who choose to live
outside or at least lightly within the accepted temporal system
and live instead in the light of eternity will have the perspective
to raise such questions. Reflecting on Merton’s contributions to
monastic renewal, Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland highlighted
his interpretation of fuga mundi “not as a selfish and individualistic
withdrawal from the trials and troubles of the world around
him but as a ‘monastic distancing’ of himself to help to bring
about positive change in contemporary society.”38

The pre-Constantinian Church and, at least in the first millennium
of the church, its monastics were positioned to be the moral
voice precisely because they were not aligned with the world’s
accepted and acceptable power structures. When the monasteries
became part of the social and economic order their critical function
was compromised. When monasticism aligned itself with
the aims and servitudes of the feudal system (and the church’s
role in it!), it lost its way and desperately needed the subsequent
reforms to invigorate the life. “The degeneration of monasticism,”
noted the late C. W. Previte-Orton, “was a recurrent theme of

36 n.a., Where Silence Is Praise (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications,
1997) 88.

37 Naomi Burton et. al., (eds.), The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (New York:
New Directions, 1973) 329.

38 Br. Patrick Hart (ed.), Survival or Prophecy? The Letters of Thomas Merton and
Jean Leclercq (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002) xvi.

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

the later Middle Ages.”39 In my view this was precisely because
monasticism lost the detachment that constitutes its moral

But, as important as it is, detachment operates on a more
profound level than the socio-political. Detachment is a fundamental
spiritual attitude intrinsically related to reverence and
chastity and even ecology. Detachment from things allows them
to arise in their “this-ness,” their created beauty and glory. It
allows us to reverence things and persons simply because they
exist and not because they fill some need in us. As such, it is a
theological basis for ecology on every level and is closely related
to the vow of chastity “understood in its widest sense as the
refusal to possess, to manipulate, to exploit.”40 In this context,
Enzo Bianchi reminds us that Augustine (who had some experience
of these things!) taught that chastity is “well-ordered love
(amor ordinatus) that does not subordinate greater things to lesser
ones.”41 Chastity and reverence are closely related. As Lawrence
Freeman, osb, notes, “A sense of reverence is born in a gasp of
wonder.”42 We can only wonder at that which we do not possess,
grasp at, or lust after. Things and persons are not “means to
ends,” (the root attitude of capitalism), but are to be respected,
loved, wondered at, reverenced, allowed to exist in their own
God-given right—and protected. Any other attitude exhibits an
arrogant overreaching pride.

St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians of “having nothing, and
yet possessing everything” (2 Cor 6:10). (“Nihil habentes omnia
possidentes” is the motto of All Saints Sisters of the Poor where I
first encountered lived monasticism.) It is that attitude to which
monasticism aspires spiritually as well as economically or materially.
Detachment allows one to live an unencumbered life.
When we are unencumbered, we can move easily, a truth of both
the external and internal life. Detachment is an attitude which
fosters freedom, “freedom from” to be sure, but also “freedom

39 C. W. Previte-Orton, The Shorter Cambridge Medieval History (Cambridge:
Cambridge university Press, 1960) I: 506.

40 de Waal, Seeking God 102.

41 Enzo Bianchi, Words of Spirituality (London: SPCK, 2002) 76.

42 Lawrence Freeman, osb, Light Within (New York: Crossroad, 1987) 94.

“Soli Deo Placere Desiderans”

to,” in this case to reverence and to love without restraint or
possessiveness. Detachment allows one, in the happy phrase of
Theresa Mancuso, “to live in the world without becoming

And the call to live in but not of the world is a call to the full
aliveness which for St. Irenaeus defined the glory of God. The
closed-heartedness and possessiveness that characterizes so
many people are but unhappy symptoms of their lack of aliveness.
There are a lot of zombies walking around in expensive
shoes and designer jeans, a lot of people who are half dead and
completely afraid of life. But when we profoundly understand
that we don’t make, own, or manipulate life, we are freed to love
it fully and, importantly, to be able to let it go. Detachment gives
us freedom to live and to die. Ironically, the great refusal to live
abundantly is often rooted in an inability to accept death. A “love
it and leave it” attitude about life is an enduring gift that monasticism
can give the world. Finally, then, I think monasticism must
evince the “abundant life” which our Lord said was his reason
for coming among us (John 10:10b).


Religious anthropologists write about the “monomythic
pattern” in rites of passage. In such rites one progresses from
separation through liminality to return as a changed person. At
the outset of this essay I reflected that monasticism is in a period
of change, not decline. In fact monasticism seems to be in a “liminal”
phase of development, a transitional or “between” time
when the “old way” has been left behind, but the “new way” is
not yet completely clear. It is not dying, but evolving, “morphing”
as the young say. The difficult question at such a time is
“what is essential, the chrysalis or the pupae, the worm or the
wings?” Semper reformada is true not only for the Church, but for
all her institutions. Transitional periods are uncomfortable, and
strong voices like those of Jean Leclercq or Thomas Merton who

43 Theresa Mancuso, “The urban Hermit: Monastic Life in the City,” Review
for Religious 55/2 (1996) 138.

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

“saw it coming” are both annoying and helpful in the process.
In times of liminality we need both the loyalists and the loyal

The etymological root of “monasticism” is monos, “one,” not
necessarily “one” in the sense of “solitary” or “alone,” but “one”
in the sense of focus or direction or unity. “God alone” about
sums it up. St. Peter tells the Lord, “we have left everything and
followed you” (Mark 10:28). This is the ideal of Christian monasticism;
everything is secondary to following Christ and seeking
perfection in Him to please God alone (soli Deo placere desiderans
as per St. Gregory). This must be the polar star of monasticism
in transition. Whatever is retained, whatever is changed must be
for the sake of pleasing God alone because the monastery (or
hermitage) is the place where life is organized so that everything
can be for God’s pleasure. unless I have badly misunderstood it,
monasticism’s hope for those who undertake the life is the refocusing
of every desire to make God its object. This desire for
God, to surrender to God and be conformed to Christ (i.e., to be
“holy”) unites Christians beyond confessional boundaries. In this
regard monasteries can be great ecumenical centers. When this
one-focused desire for God is operative, monks and monasteries
are naturally hospitable, openhearted, and remarkably attractive.
“With this conclusion, the Lord waits for us daily to translate
into action, as we should, his holy teachings.”44


In the monastery

the note said this:

“pick up your supper tray

at the kitchen door.”

Like how many million

suppliants of ages past,

I am to wait at the portal

for Benedict’s brethren

to fill my begging bowl.

44 Rule 163.

“Soli Deo Placere Desiderans”

I do not know exactly
why this makes me smile,
why I am comforted
to be among the indigent
waiting for crumbs to fall
from the monastic table.

But in history’s white light
I see myself just as I am,
loitering at heaven’s back door
empty handed and hungry,
waiting with the multitudes
for some disciple
to bless, break and give
God’s bread.


The following is the essential page of the rule of life I devised.
These are not “vows” in the traditional sense, but more practical
“life plans.”

The Rule of Life for The Anchorage

“For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him” (Ps 62:5).

“Be still and know that I am God . . .” (Ps 46:10).

Pro Christi, Pro Amore

I respond in love and joy to a long-standing call on my life which
I take as a gracious invitation of God to a life of greater solitude
and thus greater availability to Him.

Hermitage is dedicated to St. Mary of Egypt.
She found joy in the wilderness of repentance.
My act of repentance and renunciation is not only for my

own sin, but for the evils of the world, our inhumanity and
wickedness to each other.

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century

I undertake the way of life:

• To be still and know
• To hear God more clearly with the ear of my heart
• To give God delight
• To give my life for spiritual balance in the universe as a place/
person of peace, calm, and clarity
The Ordering of the Life


• Morning, noon, night prayer & a period of meditation
• Study, manual labor/work, rest/recreation

“Sunday is a day of contemplation sacred to the mystery of the
resurrection.” Thomas Merton

• Eucharist (twice weekly, more frequently when available)
• Service to others at least ••• day a week (work at food pantry,
give spiritual direction)
• Two days in silence and isolation (except where the demands
of charity intervene)

• Spiritual direction and accountability
• Days away from The Anchorage for prayer
• One week retreat annually
• One or two months a year in relative isolation (no outside
work, teaching, travel, etc.)

Most people think that what you do will have an effect on your future life, even after death, that what you do will come back to you, etc. It is not true. Doing something, bad or good, to or for someone, will not create the good and bad in your future life. It is balanced; it just happens no matter what you do. The balance makes everyone’s life fair, just, equal and perfect, but it is not influenced by any actions you take, good or bad. What you do is not up to you; it is not your job. It is God/life’s job. Thank God, God is in control.

The Christian mandate that you forgive those that hurt you, or trespass against you as the Lord's prayer says, is not necessary, because when life is seen truly, you know that no one is doing anything. God is, the balance is, so you do not take it personally. Just as you would not take a shark or bear attack personally or have to forgive the animal that hurt you, you do not do it with humans for the same reason.

People would not be perfectly fair, God is. You can only do one thing that matters, and that is to see the truth and live the life that is being given to you. You are never a victim of anyone. Everything that happens is always God/life creating balance. Your only choice is to see it for what it is, or not see it.

There is occasions and causes why and wherefore in all things.
William Shakespeare

Fate vs. freewill:
You physically are a group of over sixty-trillion living cells that do what they do by themselves. Every second, there are trillions of things happening inside our bodies that keep us from dropping dead, and we have no control over it. Blood is being pumped, cells are being created, hormones distributed; a trillion things out of our control have to happen just for us to digest food, and we are not even aware that it is happening right now.

People are aware of the fact that they are not in control of the inner workings of their bodies, but most people are not aware of the fact that they do not control what is going on outside of them either. Most people believe they are in control, and the exact opposite is the truth.

The dance of life: God/life leads and we follow in the dance of life. In other words, the physical environment does something, and your inner environment (mind) reacts to it.

We are under the absolute control of our environments.

You get hungry you eat, need money you work, the phone rings you answer it, get cold you put on a coat, get hot you take it off, and if you have an itch, you scratch it.

Then there is larger environmental control; where and when you are born, if you are rich or poor, educated, talented, healthy, looks, sex and race, etc.

Check it: The easiest way to check if we are in control or not is to just look for someone that does not die like everyone else. No one beats death, not even the faith healers, and no one wants to die. The fact that everyone dies and in less than a hundred and fifty years tells you with no doubt that we are not in control.

We do not have free will; we have something better. We have God’s will.

Free will or control is an illusion, a deception created by the mind. It is the second greatest deception after the deception that you are your mind. When you wake up to the truth, the first thing you realize is that you are not in control.

You see that the creator and the creation are together in the present.


People want to believe in an all-powerful God, but they also want to believe that they are in control or have a free will. It is another mind game. God/life is in control of everything all the time, no matter what you think.

All I want to learn is how to think like God thinks.
Albert Einstein

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth. Matthew 6:10

It is easy to believe you are in control. After all, you do whatever you want. The truth is that you want to do something because something in your environment gives you a reason to do it, even if it is your mind.

The environment is everything that isn’t me.
Albert Einstein

In other words, everything outside your spiritual-self, including your mind, is your environment. Your mind was and is created by your genetics and your environment, past and present. Your mind is part of your environment, just as your body is, and it is controlled by the larger environment, directly and indirectly.

You can say lower animals are also in control of what they do and do not do. A bear or wolf can decide what to do from moment to moment, but it is just reacting to what is happening around it. You do the things you do for the same reason a bear or any other animal does what they do.

Humans do the same thing as all other animals, but in a slightly less direct way. Our minds give us a greater awareness of the past and future than lower animals. Thus, we take what we have learned in the past and where we want to go in the future into account when we react to the environment, so we react a little less directly than lower animals when we can.

Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for insects as well as for the stars. Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance. Albert Einstein

As I said earlier, the first big world-changing realization will be when science realizes that evolution being true means we evolved from all lower animals, that we were those animals, that we were dinosaurs, bugs, etc.

The second big realization: Science will realize that Isaac Newton's laws of motion mean that the laws that govern all matter include us, because our bodies are matter. We are not in control; free will is an illusion, a delusion. It is "action-reaction" that causes the motion of all things in the universe, including us. There can be no matter in the universe that is exempt from these fundamental laws of nature. His book Principia Mathematica explains the laws of motion, and they have proven to be true. That book is the foundation of modern physics. Our bodies are governed by those same laws, because our bodies are matter in the universe. True or False?

Take a closer look at the things you do, and you will see the truth. There is always a reason preceding your every action. From the mind’s perspective, the world is a huge maze. You have choices, but a limited number of them. You always choose what you think is the best one. None of the choices would make any real difference until now. Everyone is playing 'monkey see monkey do' and blindly going around in circles, big and small.

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
John Lennon


Dancing with the devil: Mankind is currently dancing with the devil. We are letting the mind lead, and we follow. All we have to do is drop the mind and start dancing with God. Let God lead, and you will have the perfect dance partner.

Thinking we are in control (free will) is the root of all problems on earth. It is the devil/mind’s most powerful tool. When Jesus talks of overcoming, he is talking about overcoming this deception. It separates your spirit from God.

Ego: In the sixties, everyone was talking about dropping your ego. They had the right idea, but again, the time was not right to do it. You have to know the ultimate truth, and the ultimate truth could not be known by most people until now. At its worst, free will manifests as pride, arrogance and greed, but just thinking you are separate is the ultimate sin, the root of all evil and conflict in this world.

The carrot and the stick: People do everything they do to avoid pain and feel pleasure. You walk a path between these forces. It may look like some people are doing something for another reason, but it is an illusion/delusion. Example: Self-sacrificing behavior is only done if it makes the person doing it feel good to do it. To some people, it feels good to help others, or it feels good to do what you think is the right thing to do. You do everything you do for self-preservation and self-gratification, directly or indirectly. Every move you make is ultimately for yourself, no matter what you may think or how it appears to others.

The things you do may not always make you happy, but you always think they are going to eventually, one way or another, or you would not do them.

Mother Teresa helped the poor, because it made her feel good to do it and/or for the reward that she thought she would get in the afterlife (feel good later).

When you see the truth, helping others is the best way to help yourself.

After people know the ultimate truth, they will help others much more, because it will feel even better than it feels now to do it. It blesses the one helped and the helper. Spiritual people see others as themselves, so they love to help others.

After the truth is known, it will be a way of life for spiritual people, but it will still be for selfish reasons. We will like helping others, because we will know everyone is just like us. We put ourselves in other people's shoes and do the thing we would want done if we really were them, thus we are helping ourselves in two ways. We will also help others because we know it is indirectly helping ourselves. We know that we have to help others for the human race to survive and to create the heaven we want on earth. We also know that we could be like them in the future.

He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.

A spiritual being just naturally helps others. Spiritual people see everyone as a member of their own family, because the truth is, we are one family of life on earth. Spiritual beings are much more aware, thus they feel other people’s pain, pleasure, and level of fulfillment much more acutely.

Jesus said, Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Currently most people do not love themselves, but they will soon.


The power of pain: We avoid pain and seek pleasure, and it does not take much of it to control us completely. Most people can and do accept a certain amount of pain in order to get more pleasure in the future in one way or another. They go to work in order to have pleasure later, etc. Therefore, you could say that we are not under the direct control of pain and pleasure, and you would be right. People can and do intentionally take some pain and avoid some pleasure, but they still do it to avoid pain or get more pleasure at a later date. Mankind does this a lot, while lower animals are controlled much more directly by the environment. The way mankind deals with the control of pain and pleasure is just less direct and harder to see, but the truth is, it boils down to the same thing. The environment controls our every move.

Only mankind can defer pain and pleasure, but it is only possible if the pain is limited. If the pain is unlimited, it will always control you directly. The power of pain is absolute. Torture will make people turn in their family and friends knowing they will have to go through the same thing they did. Nothing in the physical world has more power to influence people than physical pain.

Torture works: Physical pain can make anyone do anything. In the movies, the hero never talks, no matter how much he is tortured. The truth is, everyone talks, and it usually doesn’t require much pain to make them do it. The really tough will just take longer.

If a torturer starts smashing toes and feet with a hammer and works their way up, most people will talk before the torturer gets to the kneecaps. After the kneecaps there is the genitals. Electric shocks are even more painful, and it leaves no marks. Given enough time, everyone will crack. It is no different for spiritual people. We can all be controlled by our own physical bodies until we go to heaven and our bodies are no longer hardwired for severe pain. Right now,  thousands of people are being tortured by professionals.

It is estimated that at least a hundred million people have been tortured in this century alone. The immigration department says four-hundred thousand torture victims are living in the United States right now.

The most brutal torturers did it in the name of religion. The so-called Holy Inquisition invented all those famous torture devices like the Iron Maiden, the rack, and thumb screws. They made torture a science. Fire and hot pokers were always the favorite. The church did not ban these devices until 1848.

To be motivated enough to do what it takes to leave the animal realm, we need to be reminded how bad it can get in the animal world.

Things can get uglier for mankind than for any other animal. The best and the worst have happened to us in the past, and it will happen to us again if we do not leave the animal realm while we can.

Man is the cruelest animal.
Friedrich Nietzsche


It gets worse: Pain is in absolute control of us, and anyone that can cause us extreme pain can control us absolutely. Imagine some lowlife that does not deserve to have control of you, has control of you. Imagine your wife and children are also under the said lowlife’s control. Imagine that this guy is a sadist and gets his enjoyment directly from the pain he causes you. The more pain and anguish he inflicts on you, the more pleasure and happiness he gets. This stinking fool has sex with your wife and daughters whenever he feels like it. Our past sucked.

Power and control turns the beast on, so there is no hope for this realm.

Violence toward others is the easiest way to get people’s attention, even if they do not want to give it. Pain will get someone’s complete attention for certain. It is a bad way to get attention, but it works, so it is used by people in power.

Imagine a lowlife has power over you and your loved ones, and he tortures you every chance he gets. Imagine this has happened to you more than once. It has happened in most of the lifespans you lived in the past hundred thousand years. You have lived in this most horrible of situations thousands of times.

The leader of the pack: For most of the time human beings lived on the earth, we lived in small tribes of men, women and children. There was always one guy that was bigger, stronger, and more brutal than the others. This man always became the absolute leader of the pack, and he stayed the leader by using extreme fear and violence against the weaker people in his group. The more sadistic the leader was, the more power he had; cruelty worked.

In the movies, the guy that is in the right always wins and saves his women and children. The truth is, the good guy usually loses, gets beat up or killed in front of his loved ones knowing that the lowlife is going to go after them next.

It is as ugly as it gets, but it is true, and it is the truth that sets you free.

You were that leader many times, but you were the leader’s victim more of the time. It is the truth, and it is more horrible than I can describe. The biggest and the strongest owned the world until the invention of firearms. Now, the biggest is just a bigger, slower target. They no longer are in charge.

It is balanced: The extreme pain caused by torture guarantees that you have a whole lot of pleasure coming in the future, but that does not make it a good thing.

I do not want to live any longer in a world where it happens, do you?

The truth is, no one would, but the problem is, people do not see their true past, and because they do not, they will have to live it over again. Those that see will not.

Who would want to live in a realm that rewards extreme brutality?

It is not enjoyable to talk about it, but I have to show you what is at stake.


The only reason I am telling you these horrible things is because your mind will not let you see them. It will mythologize the past into some entertaining, but false fairytale. It will tell you that you were not there, when the evidence says you were. You need to see the true past to have the motivation needed to escape the animal realm. You have to be hit hard with the truth to wake up.

Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

You have to know the worst to get the best.

You have to know the worst in order to get to heaven; you do not have to live it anymore as people think. The saying you have to go through hell to get to heaven is true, but we already went through it many times, and we do not have to do it again. We just have to know we did it to not have to ever do it again.

You have to see how dark it can get before you see how light it can get.

You have to see and know how bad or dark life can get before you will be able to break through the clouds of the mind to divine life. It is no coincidence that the cross is the symbol of the Christian Church. The pseudo-Christians do not know it, but it is to show people how bad life in this realm can get. If this can happen to a man doing the best thing a man can do, it can happen to anyone in this realm. The death of Jesus on the cross shows how bad the animal realm can get, and it asks the question; do you want to live in this world?

No one can be truly free from the control of the physical world until we are in heaven. Reality in the animal realm is hard to take and impossible to take at its worst. If we forget this, we stop searching for the way out, and have to live with it.

The worst is where all animal life eventually leads. You have to get off that path while you can. The worst is where living unconsciously will lead if you do not wake up. It is as certain as the sun rising and setting.

We know it happens, and if it happens, it can happen to you.

Most important thing: What goes around comes around, and this is why we have to get out of a world where extreme pain exists and where the bad guy has all the advantages. We can only do it now, so nothing is more important.

Cannibalism: I will give you one last bit of ugliness. When you wake up, you will realize many things that have been hidden completely by our minds. One of the best hidden is cannibalism. Most people have heard of it happening once in a while in very rare and desperate situations. We have heard of the Donner party trapped in the Rocky Mountains, the plane crash in South America, and some African headhunters, but that is about it. The truth is, it is a normal part of animal behavior. Human beings are no exception, and we have done it as much as any other animal. It happens every time people begin to starve, and it will happen again. If we do not change, we will start killing and eating each other. It is a fact.

Burying or burning meat does not happen when it is the only thing to eat, and you will starve or your children will starve if you do not eat it.

The fact is, people will kill people to eat them if they are starving and can get away with it. It happened all the time in the past, and it has happened recently. Almost no one realizes what went in the stewpots in concentration camps and ghettos during the world wars. You do not bury meat when you have people dying all around you. You do not let people know, but starving people do not ask. When you wake up, what amazes you most is how completely the mind can hide things from us. The fact that it can hide it scares you more than what it hides.


The animal kingdom is in a never-ending state of war. Its nature is kill or be killed. If you do not want to live the millions of years of horror again, you have to learn the truth and the life and become a spiritual being now.

The kingdom of God is the opposite of the animal kingdom.

Things are not bad now for us, but they will be again if we ignore the truth. We have to make hay while the sun shines, escape in the brief time that we can. Be saved now. All we have to do is what is best for us now to have the best later.

Knowledge of the past will motivate everyone to leave the animal realm.

I have just told you about pain at its extremes, but it controls us at its lower levels also. It just looks like it gives us a choice.

The animal path: We all walk a path away from pain, discomfort and fear, and toward pleasure and perceived security. You will continue to follow this path even after you know the ultimate truth. God/life uses these forces to guide us home. The mind uses these forces to keep us going in a circle. If you know the ultimate truth, you are going to heaven. If you do not, you are going in a circle. You are in a brutal holding pattern until you learn the truth.

Man/animal: People do what they do for the same reasons all other animals do what they do. Why does your dog or cat do what they do? Mankind is not any different. We go after what we want and move away from what we do not want. We try to adapt, survive, and thrive in our environment like all animal life. The only difference is, mankind thinks it is in control and is not as fulfilled as other animals.

All animals are the same; the only difference is mankind can know the truth.

Not being in control does not make you less; it makes you more. Even if we could live life under the control of our mind, it would not be nearly as good as living life under the control of God/life.

The truth is, you would not want to be in control, even if you had the option. When you learn the ultimate truth, you realize life outside the animal mind is perfect the way it is, and you would not change anything.

Life is not imperfect; it is just people’s awareness of life that is imperfect.

There is too much going on for the mind to control life, even if it could.

Life does not need to change. It cannot change; it exists because it is perfect. For something to last forever, it has to be perfect.

You are only truly free when you know for certain:  You are not in control.

The only thing that can change and needs to change is people’s perception and level of awareness. People need to see the perfection of life. When they do, they become a reflection of perfection, and they become perfect themselves.

Jesus said, “You are to be perfect, as God is perfect.”


The animal mind by its very existence makes your life imperfect and unfulfilling. Then it becomes stronger by trying to fix it. The stronger it becomes, the less perfect life appears. It is the ultimate vicious circle.

The Bible explains it perfectly. Satan creates the deception it controls.

Almighty: God/life is going to create balance, no matter what you do or think. God/life controls the infinite universe; it keeps the sun burning and moves the earth and all the other planets around it. From the biggest things, stars moving around galaxies, to the smallest things, electrons moving around the nuclei of atoms, God/life makes everything go in a balanced circle, cycle or the equivalent. The mind is just a dream machine. What is it compared to the infinite universe?

Too simple: If God/life controls the whole infinite universe, it is beyond stupid to think you are the one exception to the rule. Could anything be more impossible? Our bodies are physical and thus part of and under the control of the physical universe, just like everything else.

When the solution is simple, God is answering.
Albert Einstein

We need to see the truth and the life and just relax and flow with life, accept life, surrender to life, live the life we are being given as it is being given. It is impossible to live totally alive all the time in this world, but the more of life we live, the more fulfilled we will be. We just have to turn off and open up our minds when they are not needed, and we can. The truth is, we can live without it most of the time. What could be more obvious, easier or smarter? The truth is just too simple and obvious for our minds to recognize it, and the mind does not want to see it.

People really want a God that is in complete control. That is why the mythical God is characterized as an all-powerful father or king. People want someone that is large and in charge, someone that is always going to be there and always is fair and just, and that is the way it actually is, so what is the problem? The only problem is the mind is not letting us see the truth; there are no other problems.

The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply.
Khalil Gibran

Destiny: Not being in control does not mean our future is predestined. No one knows the future; the future cannot be known. Anything can happen. The only thing we can be certain of is that it will be a lot like it has been and be balanced.

People may think, if everything is balanced, then it does not matter what you do. That is true except for one thing; you have to spread the truth, overcome the animal mind, and live fully alive to get to heaven. If you are, you will go to heaven. If you are not, you are heading for hell.

To be or not to be: That is the question. There are two ways to be right now and in every moment of life, and that is to live or not to live, to live in the present or not live in the present, to be completely alive or not be completely alive, to be with God/life or be with mind/death. Which path are you on?

The only opportunity that matters: It does not matter if you have a free will or not. When it comes to the physical world, it will be balanced, no matter what you do. The only thing that matters is if you know the truth and the life and live in the present. You have that opportunity now, and it is the only opportunity that matters.


It is no coincidence that you are reading this book now.

New environment:
The knowledge in this book has now become part of your environment and has changed you and your options. If you understand it completely, it will change you and the way you see your environment completely.

You do not want to be a mind-made man; you want to be a God-made man.

You are what you truly are, and when you realize it, you truly become a self-made man, because you begin to live in the truth and the life.

Born again: Self-made man means self-made mind. When you see the truth, you give birth to yourself and really become a self-made man, the son of man.

When you see the truth, you go from free will to God’s will, which is better.

People think free will is the most important thing, that it is what makes us special, but the opposite is true. You have either the devil/mind’s will or God’s will. You are not independent of the physical universe; you are part of it. The only difference is what part of it you live as. You can be the physical or spiritual. You can live with Satan in belief and deception, or with God in reality.

All I want to learn is how to think like God thinks.
Albert Einstein

Ultimate freedom: There will be more so-called "self-made millionaires" and self-made men when the truth is seen, because you will have more inspiration. You will be inspiration itself. You will have God in you. You will have the ultimate power in the universe and always do what you want. Your will becomes God’s will.

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth. Matthew 6:10

Repetition: If something is repeated, it makes a bigger impression and changes your brain more, changes you more. Thus, the more repetition the better. That is why I repeat some things many times and say the same thing many different ways. TV advertisers repeat commercials for this reason. Hopefully, I repeated things enough to change you enough. Only time will tell.

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. Henry David Thoreau

Mind/brain: New knowledge actually changes you physically. Memories and other aspects of your mind are created and saved bio-chemically in your brain.

Knowledge causes your brain to change, making you change physically.

As you read this book, the physical make-up of your brain is actually changing, thus your environment is changing. You are becoming a little different physically. Anything you learn changes your brain a little bit. The more time you spend with something or the more impact something has on you, the more you are changed. Your brain is now actually changing physically as you read this.

The environment controls you, but your environment has now changed.