One Heart One Soul: Many Communities
Mary Forman (ed.)
St John’s University Press, $24.95
This text is a compilation of the various presentations offered at the annual Monastic Institute at the School of Theology, Seminary of Saint John’s University, held in 2006.
It is divided into four major sections: the global setting of monasticism, monastic practices from different viewpoints, the monastic women’s experience of community life, and community life now and into the future.
Each section includes several well-delivered presentations as well as a transcript of some of the conversations that followed the prepared remarks.
There are several strengths to this collection. The essays are academic in nature, yet also speak deeply from the heart and soul about the beauty and difficulties of community life.
The presentations were profoundly human and spiritual. There are truly piercing reflections by several different authors that will not only motivate readers, but will also bring about real moments of reflection.
The essays are moving and real, deriving from authentic struggles, questions, and joys of those in different forms of monastic communities.
A second positive feature is the conversational tone of the book. The inclusion of a colloquium and the discussions that took place after each presentation allow the reader to enter into the conversations, hear the feedback, and sit in on the dialogue that took place.
A third strength of the book comes about because of the diverse group assembled.
The book is relevant for all Christians. Not only was there an ecumenical focus, there were reflections and responses given by members of monastic communities, intentional communities and married lay persons.
Thus, the book as a whole speaks powerfully to any reader interested in Christian community life and spirituality.