The Monastery of the Heart by Joan Chittister.

by Christine Sine


Over the last few days I have been reading Joan Chittister’s book The Monastery of the Heart. To be honest when the book arrived I was a little disappointed to see that it was merely a collection of verses arranged in short chapters that covered the basic tenets of Benedict’s rule. However as I started to read I was transfixed. Each verse is a rich feast of wisdom and insight for a remarkable woman who has “lived life well” in a monastery for more than 50 years.

Joan Chittister uses the Rule of Benedict as a framework for a guide to a more purposeful way of being in our time of social upheavals and global transformation. She contents that Benedict’s rule provides guidelines for living a meaningful spiritual life in the centre of the world today rather than withdrawing from it. Inviting the participation of seekers of all faiths or no faith, she calls this the Monastery of the Heart.

Here are a few gems that I have picked up from reading the book:

The search for God
is a very intimate enterprise.
It is at the core
of every longing in the human heart.
It is the search for ultimate love,
for total belonging,
for the meaning of life. (13)

The search for God depends on the desire
to grow to full stature as a spiritual adult,
to come to know the God
who is present in darkness
as in light. (16)

The bearer of the monastic heart,
either alone or with an intentional group,
must radiate
what is within
to a wider world
and respond to it. (29)

We are at the disposal
of the human race,
in whatever form or function
it presents itself to us:
as neighbour,
as family,
as citizen,
as stranger,
as artist,
as disciples together
on the way to God (131)

I heartily recommend this little book. Read it slowly and draw in the wisdom of this amazing woman.

Enjoy his short video by Joan about the book:


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Joy Lenton October 27, 2015 - 11:05 am

Having just completed ‘Wisdom Distiled From the Daily’ and found it so rich in relevance and meaning for our lives today, with great depth of understanding and insight, this new book by Joan Chittester has got a definite place on my Christmas ‘Wish List’! Thanks for sharing this information.

Ana Lisa de Jong October 27, 2015 - 1:12 pm

Beautiful. Looks like a wonderful read. I especially like the part about us being at the disposal of the human race, in whatever form or function it presents itself to us.

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