The twenty-year correspondence between Jean Leclercq, a French Benedictine monk and scholar, and Thomas Merton, an American Cistercian monk, provides a fascinating record of their common yearnings. "What is a monk?" is the question at the center of their exchange, and they answer it with great aplomb, touching on the role of ancient texts and modern conveniences, the advantage of hermit life and community life, the fierce Catholicism of the monastic past and a new openness to the approaches of other traditions. These letters’full of learning, human insight, and self-deprecating humor’capture the excitement of the Catholic Church in the era of the Second Vatican Council.
Patrick Hart, ocso, a native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, did his undergraduate work at the University of Notre Dame as a Brother of Holy Cross. He entered the Abbey of Gethsemani in 1951 and has edited many books by and about Thomas Merton.