Book Reviews

Review: Befriending Silence: Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality

Befriending Silence: Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian SpiritualityBefriending Silence: Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality by Carl McColman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An engaging book on the Cistercian approach to the Rule of St Benedict written by a Lay Cistercian who has embedded himself firmly in the spiritual tradition that originated in the Abbey of Citeaux, France.

Examining the particularly Cistercian – and more so the Trappist – iteration of the great Benedictine spiritual tradition, Carl McColman engages the reader if a gentle and persuasive tour of the major aspects of this branch of the Benedictine family in a way that highlights the great gift that the Cistercian Charism is to the Church and to all those who seek to deepen their relationship with God.

I found McColman’s elucidation of the positive aspects of Cistercian life, particularly in its lay version, most enlightening and very persuasive, a testament to his own conviction of the gracious gift of Cistercian life. Through exploring scripture, the Rule, and the writings and stories of the great spiritual writers of the Cistercian family, McColman manages to weave together a coherent story and case for the ordinary seeker to embrace this particular way of living the Christian life.

From the backcover:

Steeped in chant and silence, grounded in down-to-earth work and service, and immersed in the mystical wisdom of teachers ancient (Bernard of Clairveaux) and modern (Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating), the beautifully humble path of Cistercian spirituality has for centuries made monasteries places of retreat and renewal. Now, Carl McColman offers the first practical introduction to this ancient method of contemplative spirituality for all people.

McColman draws on his experience as a Lay Cistercian to provide insight into how the tradition is relevant to contemporary issues and spiritual practice, along with helpful exercises for anyone who wishes to make Cistercian spirituality their own.

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