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Voices of Silence: Lives of the Trappists Today

Voices of Silence: Lives of the Trappists Today
2.00 lbs



Date Available

$18.95 (14.21)
“...a photo album in words...”–Kirkus Reviews

“Contemporary view of Trappist monastic life. This is an excellent introduction into the Catholic monastic tradition. If anyone is interested in knowing more about the Cisterican type of monasticism and fundamental spiritual principles, this is the book. It reads easily and gives a good presentation of this once very mysterious type of monastic community. Referring to it time and time again, it provides glimpses into contemporary Trappist life and experiences but also provides key if not very basic, yet deep, concepts of the spiritual life.”–A reader from Chicago, IL

“Very engaging and difficult to put down. Anyone who is interested in reading about monastic life will love this book. It is a book that does not sugarcoat monastic life nor look at it romantically. It shows that Trappists are human beings too and are not super monks or aloof and out of touch with the world. Rather, they are men that are very much aware of the world and aware of what it means to be human.”–A reader from Boston, MA

In 1948 Thomas Merton introduced Americans to the mysterious inner life of twentieth century Trappist monks who live according to the fifth-century rule of St.Benedict. Merton’s meditations reached outward from the heart of a small, cloistered community in Kentucky to those rushing about in a hectic, materialistic society. But Merton’s eloquence was fettered not only by the traditional reticence of monastic authorities, but also by his own years of habituation to the very
details of monastic life.

Now, Frank Bianco, with the sharp eyes and inquisitive nature of a photojournalist, has sensitively illuminated the mysterious personal terrain that Trappist monks have always held private by living among them in the United States and France. Bianco picks up the story where Merton left off and reports on the rigors, routines, and rituals of the monks’ daily lives. Voices of Silence guides us to the tiny isolated cabin of “Mac,” a sometime abbot who speaks fondly of “Uncle Louie” (Merton); lets us see the difficult vocations and novitiates of new monks who are former football players, musicians, and soldiers ranging from twenty to sixty-five years of age; and invites our empathy with the conflicting calls of solitude and solidarity.

Bianco discovered, participated in, and now narrates for us a multitude of acts of prayer including the inspirational singing of the Divine Office: vigils, lauds, vespers, and compline. Bianco additionally shared in the techniques of centering and of Zen meditation, the mundane daily prayers of peeling potatoes and hand feeding meals to an invalid brother, and even the occasional prayer of scraping crystallized corn syrup off a storage room floor.

In addition to his vibrant infusion of intimate detail and spirituality into the literature of monastic life, Bianco spins a bright tapestry of essential human community in its most austere and powerful incarnation. Centuries of spiritual practice unite with modern typesetting equipment and volleyball games to locate humankind’s ongoing struggle to love one another and to make room for God in earthly life.

FRANK BIANCO spent seven years training for the priesthood. He is currently a journalist/photographer whose work appears regularly in publications that include the New York Times and Sports Illustrated. He continues to visit Trappist monasteries and is working on another book about women and the Catholic church. e>