After sixty years of living in a Cistercian community, Michael Casey combines his down-to-earth observations about the joys and challenges of living in community with an appreciation of the deeper meanings of cenobitic life, taking into account the changes in both theory and practice that have occurred in his lifetime. He invites his readers, especially monks and nuns, to reflect on their own experiences of community as a means of seeing a path forward into the future.
Many of the key components of monastic community have kept the same names for more than a millennium. In an age of paradigm shift, Michael Casey invites readers to examine these essential practices of community life and to ask how they might be envisioned in a way that speaks to our contemporaries.
Michael Casey, OCSO, has been a monk of Tarrawarra Abbey (Australia) since 1960. In the intervening years he has conducted many retreats and workshops on every continent (except Antarctica) and has written many articles on topics relating to monastic history and spirituality. He is also the author of many books, including The Road to Eternal Life: Reflections on the Prologue of Benedict's Rule; Seventy-Four Tools for Good Living: Reflections on the Fourth Chapter of Benedict's Rule; and Balaam's Donkey, all from Liturgical Press.
"With realism and no little wit, Michael Casey dispels any romantic notion of the monastery as he portrays monastic community as a school of love where members are called to grow in humility, gentleness, and patience, especially with those who are different. If one stays the course for many decades, however, one might just be “overcome by admiration for the holy lives lived by others” and find that the monastery has indeed been an initiation into the very life of heaven. Springing from sixty some years of monastic life, Michael Casey’s profound insights on lectio divina, prayer, honoring others, and cultivating self-knowledge invite all readers to a deeper encounter with the other—both human and divine."
Dr. Glenn E. Myers, Professor of Church History and Theological Studies, Crown College
"In Coenobium, Michael Casey successfully demonstrates that the individual search for God and community life are not two disparate elements of coenobitism but are in fact mutually dependent upon one another. The monastic community exists to help its members seek union with God and the search for God bears fruit in vibrant community. In Coenobium Casey speaks directly to those who live monastic life, addressing its realities with wisdom, compassion, humor, and challenge. Coenobium contains key insights for monastic communities trying to find a way forward in these uncertain times."
Colleen Maura McGrane, OSB, Editor of The American Benedictine Review
"This is a beautiful and moving book that opens the inner chambers of monastic and contemplative life, speaking directly to the human heart. In its careful, sensitive depiction of the holy ordinariness of Cistercian community life, which is the ambience for experiencing God and for deepening one’s relation to God and neighbor, readers are offered a compelling vision of communal spiritual practice with real significance for our own time."
Sr. Kathy DeVico, Abbess, Our Lady of the Redwoods Abbey, Whitethorn, CA