A Reflection on the “Why” of Catholic Monastic Celibacy

Brother Gregory Perron, OSB presented this paper at the second "Monks in the West"
conference held at Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota, October 26-29, 2006.

“ To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love.
“ Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.”[1]

“There is no force in the world but love, and when you carry it within you, if you simply have it, even if you remain baffled as to how to use it, it will work its radiant effects and help you out of and beyond yourself: one must never lose this belief, one must simply (and if it were nothing else) endure in it!”[2]

“The divine Word speaks in the depth of every being, and it speaks within our own selves. To find it we do not have to travel far, we do not have to go out of ourselves. And we do not have to travel far to find happiness; it suffices to descend into the depth of our own being to discover our true identity (that is, God). However, modern man always tries to flee from himself. He can never be silent or alone, because that would mean to be alone with himself, and this is why the places of amusement and the cinemas are always filled with people. And when they find themselves alone and are at a point where they might encounter God, they turn on the radio or the television set.”[3]

“The voice of the Beloved is existential rather than vocal. It causes no echo in the ears nor in the mind but resounds in much greater depth, in that ground where God dwells, that is, in the innermost depths of man. . . .Thus God’s call is a constant challenge, a call into the unknown, into adventure, into following Him into the darkness and into solitude.”[4]

“The Christian is, I believe, one who sacrifices the half truth for the sake of the whole truth, who abandons an incomplete and imperfect concept of life for a life that is integral, unified, and [whole]. Yet his entrance into such a life is not the end of the journey, but only the beginning. A long journey must follow: an anguished and sometimes perilous exploration. Of all Christians the monk is, or at least should be, the most professional of such explorers. His journey takes him through deserts and paradises for which no maps exist. He lives in strange areas of solitude, of emptiness, of joy, of perplexity and of admiration.”[5]

Why do Catholic monks practice celibacy? This is an important question that all too often monks have not been very good at answering. Why? In part, it is because the vast majority of us are not only reluctant to talk about matters of sexuality in general but of our experience of living celibacy in particular. Consequently, when asked to explain our choice, if we answer at all, we tend to fall back on a familiar set of responses that, though true as far as they go, do not really say that much: “For the sake of the kingdom,” we say, or “in order to love everyone and not just one person, “ or “to be more available to others.”[6] Then, once we have given one or all of these reasons, we have been known to clear our throats nervously, look at our feet, and take a deep breath and hope that no one asks us any further questions. Because of our reticence, it is little wonder that over the years some have come to think of celibacy as an unnatural aberration that is responsible for everything from the scarcity of vocations to the monastic life and priesthood to the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Church.

Be that as it may, I think our reluctance to talk about matters of sexuality and our experience of living celibacy is only part of the reason we find it so difficult to explain why Catholic monks practice celibacy. The other part of the equation is spiritual and has to do with monastic spirituality, with what it means to be a monk—not a priest or professor, but a monk. Thus, it has everything to do with how we identify ourselves, with whether we identify ourselves primarily with what we do or with what we are. Hence, I would contend that in far too many instances we male monastics find it difficult to answer questions about the practice of celibacy because we have failed to confront what it means to be a monk.

In order to answer the question of why Catholic monks practice celibacy, it seems to me important to define the terms that I am using in posing the question itself. By taking this approach I hope to formulate an answer to our question that goes beyond pious platitudes and actually shed some light on “the heart of the matter,” to borrow a phrase from Thomas Keating,[7] who, in turn, borrowed it from Graham Greene. And so, first of all, what do we mean by monasticism? What does it mean, from a Catholic Christian perspective, to live the monastic life? What does it mean to be a monk?

The Witness of Solitude and Freedom

The first thing to note about Catholic Christian monasticism is that its significance does not derive, nor has it ever derived (as some have mistakenly believed in both theory and practice), from its being “an ecclesiastical job corps or. . . .an exotic spiritual subculture or. . . .a comfortable lifestyle enclave for the religious elite.”[8] On the contrary, it has always and everywhere been the case that the monastic life has been significant “because of what it is and not just because of what some monks, in fact, do (however valuable that may be) because monastic life is not merely a collection of individuals who engage in a variety of good works but a distinctive state of life in the Church.”[9]

The expression “state of life” means “a permanent, stable, and public form of consecrated life in the Church. . . .which raises to visibility in a special way some aspect or dimension of the Christian mystery which all. . . .are called to live but to which all do not witness in the same way.”[10] This being so, we do well to ask: “To what aspect or dimension of the Christian mystery does the monastic life witness in a special way?”[11]

Simply stated, the aspect or dimension of the Christian mystery to which the monastic life bears witness in a special way is the radical, existential solitude of every human person. And this solitude, which is the heart of our emptiness and the center of our fullness, of our true self—a Self that, according to the Christian mystical tradition, is understood to be one with Christ in a nondualistic way[12]—this solitude is the place where we encounter ever more profoundly “the God Who is our Origin, our loving and benevolent Father and Mother, our Savior, [our Dangerous Friend,][13] our unconditional Lover.”[14] Indeed, this interior solitude “is the place where our own hearts uncover our deep yearning to be loved unconditionally, and to love with our whole being.”[15] It is “the place of the great encounter, from which all other encounters derive their meaning.”[16] For it is in this solitude that, paradoxically, we discover that we are not alone; that there is “a presence within our presence,”[17] one that is “within us and around us. . . .and beyond us, and beyond what is around us.”[18] A presence that is “infinite, and infinitely loving, merciful, and beautiful. It is God as the Beloved who blesses us and calls us the Beloved.”[19]

Hence, in our existential solitude, we come to discover that there is something about us that is “brighter than the sun and more mysterious than the night sky.”[20] Here “we leave behind our many activities, concerns, plans, and projects, opinions, and convictions (as well as those of others) to enter into the presence of Love, naked, vulnerable, open, and receptive.”[21] Here we fall completely into our “mysterious essence”[22] and know a self-emptying Love that is beyond all being, a Love that unites within its vast embrace eros and agape, masculine and feminine,[23] subject and object—a hidden Love that is “the sourceless source, the ground of all creativity.”[24] Here, in the solitude of our heart, we are led to a personal and intimate relationship with the radical solitude of God, with the emptiness or great fullness of Love—with “the inconceivable profundity of ultimate reality”[25] that is the ground of our freedom and the source of our true identity, both as human beings and as monks.

Solitude is the dimension of the Christian mystery to which the monastic life bears witness in a special way. Hence, we can say that our “monastic life demands first of all a profound understanding and acceptance of solitude.”[26] The essence or spirit of this particular state of life, even in its cenobitic or communal form, “is the spirit of solitude and of the desert, the spirit of the life lived like that of St. John the Baptist, Elijah, and St. Anthony,”[27] men of disciplined wildness who dedicated their whole lives to wrestling with their solitude,[28] men whose life-work was “to remain in the ‘cell’ of their aloneness, whether it be a real cell in the desert, or simply the spiritual cell of their own incomprehensible emptiness,”[29]and, I would add, their fulness, men who knew in their bones that, as Abba Moses once said, their “cell will teach them everything.”[30]

Thus, to the extent that the Christian monastic life embraces and actually embodies this spirit of the desert, it proclaims the truth that “this capacity for solitude is nothing else than the full affirmation of one’s identity, that is to say, the complete acceptance of oneself as willed by God and of one’s being as given by God. It is also the complete and loving acceptance of the ability to choose and to love, the capacity and the necessity for choice which one must make in the presence of God, under the eye of God, in the light of His truth and of His redemptive love.”[31] Or, to put it a slightly different way, to the extent that such a state of life is true to its deepest meaning and inspiration, it bears vigorous witness to the fact that each and every one of us has to take responsibility for our own spiritual life, being willing to face the full mystery of our lives by taking upon ourselves “the lonely, barely comprehensible, incommunicable task of working our way through the darkness of our own mystery until we discover that our mystery and the mystery God merge into one reality, which is the only reality. We dedicate ourselves to a life of solitude because we believe that God lives in us and we in God—not precisely in the way that words seem to suggest (for words have no power to comprehend the reality)”[32] but in a way that makes words lose their shape, as it were, and become “not thoughts, not things, but the unspeakable beating of a Heart within the heart of our own life.”[33]

Consequently, it “should be quite clear that the failure to accept and understand the basically solitary character of the monastic life [constitutes]. . . .a failure of the monk to fully achieve his identity and authenticity in that life.”[34]

Moreover, it also should be quite clear that the Christian monk is (at least ideally) someone who has responded to an authentic call of God to live a “desert life” of solitude and freedom that is “outside normal social structures,”[35] a life of unbounded wholeness or purity of heart, in which a “magnificent spacious passion”[36] is to be found, a passionate nonattachment or radical openness that is “an embracing surrender” to the alluring and “inscrutable mystery that glows deep in all human love, hope, and possibility,”[37] a mystery that, while embracing “every hinted sense of being alone”[38] in our particularity, is also our true, universal identity – our true, timeless, and utterly vulnerable Self—that is always and already one with Christ, who “prays. . . .in us, suffers in us, dies in us. . . .sees through our eyes, listens through our ears, loves through our hearts.”[39]

The monk is one whose life is entirely committed to discovering and embodying ever more fully the true unity of the solitary life “in which there is no possible division,” in which he loses or forgets himself so as to become all, so as to identify “himself with that ground in which all being. . . .knows itself.”[40] And what is this ground? Simply stated, it is Love. Thus “The paradox of solitude [and, hence, of the monastic life] is that its true ground is universal love—and true solitude [true monasticism] is the undivided unity of love” for which there is no justification or determination or explanation.[41]

Because of this we can say that in its essence the life of the Christian monk is “dedicated completely to love,” the love of God, humanity, and all creation, “but a love that is not determined by the requirements of a special task.”[42] For the Christian monk is, or should be, someone “who is mature enough and decided enough to live without the support and consolation of family, job, ambition, social position or even active mission in the apostolate.”[43] That is to say, the monk is, or should be, mature enough and decided enough and free enough to live beyond all definition, beyond all conventional notions of productivity or usefulness; for in truth the monk’s task or mission is not to do anything. Rather, it is to simply be ever more consciously what each and every one of us is called to be, and what in reality each of us always and already is: a selfless Self, without fixed reference point, “silent and alone everywhere. . . .not ‘divided,’ but one with all in God’s Love. . . .in the infinite silences of the Spirit, out of whose abysses love wells up without fail and gives itself to all. . . .in which the meaning of every sound is finally clear and the truth of words is to be distinguished, not in their separateness, but in their pointing to the eternal unity of Love” and to the truth that all words “say one thing only: that all is Love.”[44] Those who are truly alone, and who are conscious of what their solitude really means, find themselves simply being in the hidden ground or mystery of life, “in love with all, with everyone, with everything,” accepting “the wholeness and completeness of everything in God’s Love,”[45] in that brilliant emptiness, that luminous darkness, which is our very fulfillment and plenitude, in which, as St. John of the Cross said, “the All and the Nothing encounter one another and are the Same.”[46]

Furthermore, we can say that Christian monasticism, like all authentic forms of monasticism, “aims at the cultivation of a certain quality of life, a level of awareness, a depth of consciousness, an area of transcendence and of adoration,”[47] of openness and freedom which are not usually possible in other forms of existence that often are more characterized or defined by “the senseless tyranny of quantity.”[48] Hence, in summary, we could say that it is and always has been “the peculiar office of the monk” (be he Christian or otherwise) to completely dedicate himself in a radical way to such a life of inner transformation in love, to the “deepening of consciousness toward an eventual breakthrough and discovery of a transcendent dimension of life beyond that of the ordinary empirical self,”[49] a dimension that simultaneously transcends and yet includes that same ordinary self.

Celibacy and the Monastic Life

Now, it is important to keep all of this in mind because it will help us to better understand how the monastic life and the practice of celibacy are intimately related or even, in a certain sense at least, mutually constitutive. And this in turn will make it possible to answer the question “Why do Catholic monks practice celibacy?” in a way that speaks to the experiential heart of the matter. That is to say, it will allow us to further demonstrate how celibacy, if it is to have any real meaning for us as monks, has to be understood as being most truly rooted in and, hence, an expression of our solitude, our love, our awareness of what it means to be wholly human and thus fully alive.

So, when we turn our attention to the practice of celibacy, one of the first things we can note about it is that in the monastic context it is in fact an actual practice, a tool, a skillful means, if you will, by which Catholic monks seek to “put on the mind of Christ” (see Philippians 2:5). In other words, it is a tool of the spiritual craft – like obedience or stability or intentional simplicity of life—and a form of renunciation by which we let go of “anything in our experience that is a barrier between ourselves and others,”[50] by which we become more available and open as we seek to enter the very heart of Jesus, the center of his being, which means also “entering into our own heart, the center of our being, the core of our existence.”[51] Celibacy is a vital means by which “our heart is burrowed out and. . . .the depth of our being is laid bare: that [solitary] core of ourself”[52] that mysteriously embraces both the darkest depths of being alone and the brightest heights of being all one in love, that is to say, in Christ.

But like other traditional monastic practices, celibacy helps us to do this in a very specific way. How? Generally speaking, it helps to re-examine the basic elements of our sexuality—“lovemaking, gender, passion, the body, relationship, and procreation”[53]—from a deeper and broader perspective that is rooted in the paradox of solitude, a perspective, in other words, that fully recognizes and appreciates the fact that we all have an unbearable longing to unite with the Heart of Being, the naked Reality, “the empty, immaculate, brilliant space of our own true nature”[54]—which we know, in some intuitive way, is not only our true home and who we most fundamentally are,”[55] but that to fully realize this and embody it we must renounce everything, be stripped of everything that separates or puts a barrier between us and God and our fellow beings. Anything that serves as “a substitute structure or representation of the Real has to go,”[56] has to be surrendered. For “only when we are [thus] empty of everything that is not God—only when we are thus beyond identifying with every definition, with every fixed reference point—can we receive the whole of what life has to give and be fully attentive to what actually is. That is to say, only then can we become utterly free and realize our [abiding] union with the Living One who simply IS”[57] within and around and beyond everything that arises in our experience moment by moment. Only then can we pass from depth to depth in the solitude of our own heart and reach the ultimate depth of the heart of Christ Jesus, where, having passed beyond all, and freed from all bonds, we finally come to the Source in whose eternal awakening we discover that we are always and already fully and nondualistically one[58] with the radiant, all-pervading I AMness of God. We realize, in other words, that the All and the Nothing, the Lover and the Beloved, the freedom of Emptiness and the fullness of Form are united in the great embrace of One Taste. We see that even here and now, in the deepest part of our very own heart, we are the natural radiance and the unbounded openness of Love.

From this perspective, then, we can understand that the practice of celibacy is a practical means by which the monk bears witness to the paradoxical depth of his being. That is to say, celibacy establishes the monk in solitude and makes possible a more visible witness to the fact that solitude or “aloneness is…the inner structure of the [monastic life just] as faithful and fruitful mutuality is the inner structure of matrimony.”[59] As such, the practice of celibacy itself proclaims—first to the monk himself and then to everyone with whom he comes into contact—the truth that there is at the heart of all human being an existential solitude, an inescapable aloneness “which no bonds, however deep, of friendship, community, or solidarity. . . .can mitigate.”[60] This solitude is also at the same time a radical emptiness or openness, a sacred space, a “holy vacancy”[61] that belongs to, is reserved for—or, better yet, is a reflection of—the One who dwells within us, who is that Love which is “the beginning, the source, and the goal” of all human life and activity.[62]

Thus, “by not marrying and by abstaining from the most intimate expression of human love, the celibate [monk] becomes a living sign of the limits of interpersonal relationships and of the centrality of this inner sanctum that no human being may violate,”[63] that nothing can destroy. Indeed, it is in large part by means of his practice of celibacy (which in a very real sense can be regarded as “a sort of ongoing street theater”)[64] that the monk is constantly raising in his own mind and in the minds of others questions about the deeper meaning of human existence. The monk’s life, therefore, is a sign of contradiction and of foolishness to many, even at times to himself most especially. Yet the monk, like the clown, chooses this particular form of foolishness because he knows on some deep intuitive level that it contains a rich store of wisdom. What is more, he knows in a similarly profound fashion that the path he has chosen to tread is a dangerous one that is possessed of its own alluring passion. Indeed, he knows it is a consuming path of utter humility that, it must be repeatedly acknowledged, he is “both. . . .incapable of [treading] and even more incapable of abandoning the attempt to do so.”[65]

A Path of Foolishness and Hope

And so the monk, the solitary celibate, chooses to walk a path of foolishness. But he does so in the certain hope and with the naked trust that what he has come to know as the God of Love, the Living One who simply IS, is and always will be enough.[66] The foolishness that the monk chooses, therefore, is in reality a blessed foolishness, a “holy madness,”[67] if you will, that itself bears witness to the profound truth of his life as a whole. And what truth is that? Simply this: that the monastic life is a journey through, with, and in ordinary human solitude “into that reality which is the ground of our being and, if we are authentic enough in the journeying, the blossom of our becoming.”[68] It is a life of “existential risk”[69] that—if we are honest enough and courageous enough to be true to its solitary nature, to its inner structure of aloneness—takes us into the center of ourselves and beyond ourselves “into the center of reality. . . .into the very heart of life,”[70] the heart and true center of which is love. As such, the monastic life is a search for “what is most real and most true in our existence,”[71] and the practice of celibacy is an important means by which this search is carried out.

Yet, as a parenthetical aside, and by way of bringing this reflection to a close, it is important to note that (from a Catholic monastic perspective at least) the practice of celibacy also constantly serves to remind us, and everyone whom we encounter, that our way of life is not so much “the heroic quest of the spiritual athlete”[72] as it is “a wrestling in the dark of ordinary human beings who, for some reason known only to God, have been attacked by a messenger who holds the secret of their name and will not release it without wounding them,”[73] that is, without plunging them into the heart of their existential solitude, their inescapable aloneness, and piercing them with the life-giving knowledge of the fact that this aloneness, “if cherished, attended to, and dwelt in as the heart of one’s vocation, finds its positive meaning”[74] in “the contemplative intuition of loving wisdom,”[75] which, at this level of the heart, or the “profoundest depths of the self,”[76] signifies an abiding state of contemplative prayer, of inner union with God, with the pervasive presence of unconditioned and unconditional love. In this union all apparent contradictions and all fragmentary attachments are “dissolved in an indescribable simplicity, that is, an exceedingly intricate complexity that flashes into a oneness”[77] that is, in truth, “another marriage,”[78] but a timeless one that continually invites us to realize ever more fully that this is the ultimate reason why we as monks practice celibacy. Indeed, the heart of the matter is to be found in the reassuring promise and the constant challenge of this one contemplative truth that bears repeating: “If we dare to penetrate our own silence and dare to advance without fear into the solitude of our own heart, and risk the sharing of that solitude with the lonely other who seeks God through us and with us, then we will truly recover the light and the capacity to understand what is beyond words and beyond explanations because it is too close to be explained: it is the intimate union in the depths of our own heart, of God’s spirit and our own secret inmost self, so that we and God are in all truth One Spirit.”[79]

[1]Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (New York: New Directions, 1972), 60.
[2]The Poet’s Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke, edited and translated by Ulrich Baer (New York: The Modern Library, 2005), 187.
[3]Ernesto Cardenal, To Live is to Love, translated by Kurt Reinhardt (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972), 30.
[4]Ibid., 71-72.
[5]Thomas Merton, as cited in Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton by Roger Lipsey (Boston: New Seeds, 2006), 128.
[6]See “Celibate Chastity: One Way to be a Sexual Person” by Sean D. Sammon at http://vocation-network.org/articles/read/58
[7]See “The Heart of the Matter: A Dialogue between Father Thomas Keating and Andrew Cohen,” at http://www.wie.org/j13/keating.asp?pf=1
[8]Sandra Schneiders, “Religious Life: The Dialectic between Marginality and Transformation,” at http://www.spiritualitytoday.org/spir2day/884056schneiders.html
[12]For an understanding of the way in which I am using the term “nondualistic,” see Ernesto Cardenal, op. cit., 37: “And man made in the image of God, is likewise nothing but love. When man awakens…, he becomes aware of the fact that his entire being is one single desire, one single passion, one single thirst and shout of love.” “The unadulterated substance of our being is love. Ontologically we are love. And God, like ourselves, is likewise a single call and shout of love, an infinite passion, an infinite thirst for love. This love is the reason of our existence.” “And this love of God and our own love are one and the same love, a love which we can never extinguish.”
[13]See Rig’dzin Dorje’s Dangerous Friend: The Teacher-Student Relationship in Vajrayana Buddhism (Boston: Shambhala, 2001).
[14]Henri J. M. Nouwen, Clowning in Rome: Reflections on Solitude, Celibacy, Prayer, and Contemplation, revised edition (New York: Image/Doubleday, 2000), 27.
[17]See Robert Jonas, an interview in “The Empty Bell,” at http://www.emptybell.org/articles/jonas-interview.html . Note: In this citation and in others that follow I have sometimes taken the liberty of altering pronouns or substituting “we” for “man,” when “man” is used in the generic sense.
[20]Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2006), xix.
[21]See Nouwen, ibid.
[22]Adyashanti, ibid.
[23]See Shirley Du Boulay’s Beyond the Darkness: A Biography of Bede Griffiths (New York: Doubleday, 1998), 225.
[24]Sean Caulfield, The God of Ordinary People (Kansas City, MO: Sheed & Ward, 1988), 32.
[25]The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti: A Mahayana Scripture, translated by Robert A. F. Thurman (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001), back cover. Here it is worth noting that my understanding of the central Christian concept of love is very similar to, if not identical with, Professor Thurman’s understanding of the central Buddhist concept of emptiness or voidness “as the joyous and compassionate commitment to living beings born from an unwavering confrontation with the inconceivable profundity of ultimate reality.”
[26]Thomas Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1973), 93.
[27]Ibid., 93-4.
[28]See William McNamara, The Human Adventure: Contemplation for Everyman (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1974) 162-79.
[29]Thomas Merton, Disputed Questions (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Cudahy, 1960), 181.
[30]The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: the Alphabetical Collection, trans. Benedicta Ward, revised edition (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1984), 139:6.
[31]Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action, 94.
[32]Merton, Disputed Questions, 180.
[34]Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action, 94.
[35]Ibid., 26.
[36]Ngakpa Chögyam, Wearing the Body of Visions (New York: Aro Books, 1995), 26. See also 101-103.
[37]Stuart Sovatsky, Eros, Consciousness, and Kundalini: Deepening Sensuality through Tantric Celibacy and Spiritual Intimacy (Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1999), 162; 7.
[38]Ibid., 162.
[39]William Johnston, The Inner Eye of Love: Mysticism and Religion (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1978), 51.
[40]Thomas Merton, Love and Living (New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1985), 16.
[42]Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action, 26.
[44]Merton, Love and Living, 21.
[45]Ibid., 22.
[46]Ibid., 20.
[47]Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action, 27.
[48]Ibid., 29.
[49]Thomas Merton, The Asian Journal (New York: New Directions, 1975), 317; 309.
[50]Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior (Boston: Shambhala, 1988), 66.
[51]Beatrice Bruteau, “Entering the Heart of Jesus: Devotion, Renunciation and Faith,” in Cistercian Studies Quarterly 20:2 (1985), 120; 121.
[52]André Louf, Teach Us to Pray, trans. Hubert Hoskins (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1992), 69.
[53]Sovatsky, 6-7.
[54]Reginald Ray, “Our Unbearable Longing,” at http://dharmaocean.org/
[56]Bruteau, op. cit., 124.
[58]See Abhishiktananda (Henri Le Saux, OSB), Guru and Disciple (tr. Heather Sandeman), Author’s Preface, xiii. As cited in Bruteau, 121.
[60]Schneiders, op. cit.
[61]Nouwen, op. cit., xv.
[62]Ibid., 46-47.
[63]Ibid., 47.
[64]Ibid., 50.
[65]Schneiders, op. cit.
[66]See Nouwen, op. cit., xv.
[67]See Georg Feuerstein’s Holy Madness: Spirituality, Crazy-Wise Teachers, and Enlightenment, revised and expanded edition (Prescott, AZ: Hohm Press, 2006).
[68]Augustin Belisle, Into the Heart of God: Spiritual Reflections (Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications, 1989), 1.
[69]David M. Knight, Cloud by Day, Fire by Night: The Religious Life as Passionate Response to God, vol. 1 (Denville, NJ: Dimension Books, 1969), 61.
[71]Ibid., 79.
[72]Schneiders, op. cit.
[75]Thomas Merton’s Introduction to Ernesto Cardenal’s To Live is to Love, 12.
[76]Louf, op. cit., 10.
[77]Sovatsky, op. cit., 163.
[79]Thomas Merton, The Monastic Journey (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1992), 173.


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