Living the Hours explores what makes the monastic tradition so appealing to ordinary people today who may be discovering a world if spirituality previously hidden from them, or perhaps questioning the balance, priorities and focal points of their lives.
Since its beginnings in the fourth century, monasticism's alternative vision for living has, in different ways, always inspired men and women in the secular world to step outside the routine of everyday life and to give time to reflection and exploration. The monastic day is measured in 'hours' with times for prayer, physical work, study and rest all contributing to a balances, holistic life. This book looks at different expressions of monastic life through the history and at the new monastic movements emerging today and asks how they can teach us in today's consumerist world to live more fully, more consciously aware of how we choose to fill our hours and days.
What insights can monastic wisdom offer for our relationships, our work, our lifestyles, our place in the wider world, our often neglected inner lives? Living the Hours explores these questions with many illuminating examples and stories of individuals, groups and families who are finding in monastic spirituality fresh purpose and a renewed energy for living.
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen
A chance encounter with a reproduction of Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son catapulted Henri Nouwen on a long spiritual adventure. Here he shares the deeply personal and resonant meditation that led him to discover the place within which God has chosen to dwell.
In seizing the inspiration that came to him through Rembrandt’s depiction of the powerful Gospel story, Henri Nouwen probes the several movements of the parable: the younger son’s return, the father’s restoration of sonship, the elder son’s vengefulness, and the father’s compassion. In his reflection on Rembrandt in light of his own life journey, the author evokes the powerful drama of the parable in a rich, captivating way that is sure to reverberate in the hearts of readers. The themes of homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation will be newly discovered by all who have known loneliness, dejection, jealousy, or anger. The challenge to love as the father and be loved as the son will be seen as the ultimate revelation of the parable known to Christians through time, and here represented with a vigour and power fresh for our times.
Thomas Merton's life, especially once he had become a writer, was to a great extent one of dialogue with people who were distant, both geographically and historically. In these probing and perceptive studies, Rowan Williams looks closely at the key intellectual and spiritual relationships that emerge in Merton's writings, exploring the impact on him of thinkers as diverse as Hannah Arendt, Karl Barth, William Blake, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Olivier Clement, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Paul Evdokimov, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Vladimir Lossky, John Henry Newman, Boris Pasternak and St John of the Cross.
Spiritual formation, I have come to believe, is not about steps or stages on the way to perfection. It’s about the movements from the mind to the heart through prayer in its many forms that reunite us with God, each other, and our truest selves.
Henri Nouwen, from the Introduction
Henri Nouwen, beloved author, priest and spiritual guide, counseled many people during his lifetime, but his principles of spiritual formation were never written down. Now, Michael Christensen, one of Nouwen’s longtime students, and Rebecca Laird have taken the famous course in spiritual formation and supplemented it with his unpublished writings to reveal Nouwen’s sage advice on how to live out the five classic stages of spiritual development.
I always knew I was in the presence of a spiritual master when I was with Henri Nouwen. Here are some simple, wise words that will allow the master to continue to teach.
Richard Rohr, O.F.M., author of The Naked Now
One of the book’s many strengths is its integration of an area especially important to Nouwen, the contemplation of icons and other works of art – visio divina – in order ‘to behold the beauty of the Lord’.
Jim Forest, author of Praying with Icons and The Road to Emmaus