The Wisdom of the Benedictine Elders: Thirty of America's Oldest Monks and Nuns Share Their Lives' Greatest Lessons

Mark W. McGinnis, Author . BlueBridge $14.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-9742405-3-4

As Joan Chittister suggests in the powerful foreword to this book, our postmodern culture does not listen closely enough to what elderly people have to say. Yet what wisdom abounds in their experiences, argues writer and artist McGinnis in this collection of conversations with 30 elders of the Benedictine Order, all born between 1901 and 1925. McGinnis succeeds at capturing the sagacity these religious have acquired in their cloistered world of prayer and work. Although some of the testimonies don't translate into lucid prose, the lives of these monks and nuns provide a fascinating view into a different age, one less encumbered by e-mail, instant messaging and cell phones. Despite the sometimes awkward writing and poor syntax, the stories keep the reader engaged, especially when the elders discuss the spiritual significance of The Rule of Benedict , a timeless document from the sixth century C.E., or concentrate on a specific teaching of Benedict of Nursia, like the importance of hospitality. The stronger accounts require less effort to decode a lesson, like Fr. Stanislaus Maudlin's tale about saying yes to God, but all of them tell intriguing tales of personal joys, regrets and hopes. McGinnis complements the stories with detailed descriptions of the abbeys and monasteries and vivid portraits of the elders. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/16/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 305 pages - 978-1-933346-50-2
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