Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pre-Benedictine Monasticism: Initiation into the Monastic Tradition 2

By Thomas Merton, 391 pages, USD 24.95, Cistercian Publications.

This book really gets to the heart of the genius of Thomas Merton, the Kentucky-based Cistercian monk who was killed by electrocution in Bangkok in 1968. This book publishes Merton's notes that he made as novice master for his classes on the history of monasticism.

The reading is therefore not always a pleasure, as the editors have added a lot of words in parentheses to make complete sentences and thoughts from the sometimes sparse notes. Pre-Benedictine Monasticism is not for a Merton beginner, but is definitely worth the money for someone with a serious or scholarly interest in the writer, whose brilliance perhaps comes out in these rough notes more easily than from his polished, published style:

“It must be said that the value of the Rule lies primarily in the fact that it is an eminently practical digest of a body of traditional material, a compilation rather than an original creation....[I]t is a resumé of the most practical points in the other rules, giving them a new form and orientation”

1 comment:

  1. I'm not necessarily interested in the writer but I am interesting in pre-Benedictine monasticism. But is there really much that can be said about it that's not already in Cassian's Institutes? If there is, this might be a good buy.