Monasteries of the Heart

Mary Ellen OSB's blog

Bede Griffith on a sense of the sacred

Everything in India has a sacred character. It meets on every side–they are living in a sacred world. Here in the West we live in a profane world. For the last three centuries we have tried to reduce everything from the sphere of the sacred, the sphere of God. Science tries to eliminate the sacred; the moon is not something sacred. It has become simply a chemical formation about which we seek to learn all we can. The same is true of the earth and the other planets. So we have eliminated two dimensions of reality, the psychological and the spiritual.

Mary Ellen Plumb OSB on Good and Necessary Trouble

The death of John Lewis, the “conscience of our Congress,” the ensuing services and tributes to his legacy and the tears of a twelve-year-old boy, Tybre Faw, gave me a rare and welcome taste of deep, abiding hope this week.

Linda Romey on Celebrating Women

We have a "giveaway" table in our monastery. It's where a sister can unload an item she no longer needs or wants. If another sister doesn't claim it in a day or two, it gets packed up for donation to a good cause or dropped in the dumpster.

Susan Baller-Shephard on Beauty

Let the Beauty we Love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. -Rumi

Beauty can inspire us and fill us with awe.

Flowers do that for me, the depth of texture and color. Birds do that: the artistry of the feathers and bird calls and the fact that a Lyre Bird in Australia can mimic any of the sounds around her like a camera shutter or a chain saw. Sunsets, where the sky blends orange and red and pink and yellow in such a way that your jaw simply drops open. We want to kneel and kiss the ground.

John Main, OSB on contemplative life

There is such widespread misunderstanding about the "contemplative life;" the very phrase carries with it so many unconscious associations. To many it summons up a picture of lifeless people sitting around all day with little or nothing to do. But real prayer, coming from the silent center of our spirit, is the source of the selflessness of love, the source of energy. In that center, the source of our Being, we encounter God. To find God is to find love. To find love is to find oneself in harmony with the basic energy of all creation, which is love.

Dalai Lama on contributing our offerings

We are all on this planet together. We are all brothers and sisters with the same physical and mental faculties, the same problems, and the same needs. We must all contribute to the fulfillment of the human potential and the improvement of the quality of life a s much as we are able. [Human]kind is crying out for help. Ours is a desperate time. Those who have something to offer should come forward. Now is the time.

Alejandra Oliva on Julian of Norwich and Social Distancing

We don’t know very much about Julian of Norwich, not even her name—the name we use is the name of the church she lived in, St. Julian’s, and her city, Norwich, in England. We do know that she was born around 1342, and that she spent the majority of her life as an anchoress, living isolated in a small chamber attached to the walls of St. Julian until her death. 

William McNamara OCD on finding God in the commonplacee

I share the secret of the child, of the saints and sages, as well as of clowns and fools when I realize how wondrous and marvelous it is to carry fuel and draw water. Once the spiritual significance of such ordinary earthly acts dawns on me, I can skip the yoga, the mantras and novenas. One finds pain and pleasure, ecstasy and enstasy, God and humanity in the commonplace. All these good natural experiences usher us, if we let them, into the presence of God, into supernatural life.

Desert Mothers and Fathers on the Spiritual Life

A brother asked Abba Hieracus: "Give me a word. How can I be saved?"

The old man said to him: "Sit in your cell; if you are hungry, eat; if you are thirsty, drink; and just do not speak evil of anyone, and you will be saved." 

Is the spiritual life really this simple?

The teachings of the Desert Mothers and Fathers and of the Ancients still have much to offer us today.


Please share your reflections with us here.

Gertrude the Great on Sabbath time

Now and then, set aside for yourself a day on which, without hindrance, you can be at leisure to praise God and to make amends for all the praise and thanksgiving you have neglected all the days of your life to render to God for all the good God has done. This will be a day of praising and thanksgiving and a day of jubilation, and you will celebrate the memory of that radiant praise with which you will be jubilant to God for eternity, when you will be satisfied fully by the presence of God, and the glory of God will fill your soul.


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