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The Love of Learning and The Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Culture 3rd Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0823204076
ISBN-10: 0823204073
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"One of the most remarkable general studies in this field."

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press; 3rd edition (January 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823204073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823204076
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.7 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #596,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Dom Leclercq's study of Benedictine monastic spirituality remains a classic. In fact Pope Benedict XVI has quoted from it extensively in his various addresses on monasticism and European culture.

Originally written as a series of conferences for young monks, the book starts by exploring the two foundational documents of Benedictine spirituality - the Rule of St Benedict and the Life of the saint by St Gregory the Great. From there it traces the development of the monastic commitment to learning and prayer through the middle ages, with particular emphasis on St Bernard.

It is beautifully written, and full of spiritual gems.

A must read for any serious student of monasticism.
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"Read the acts of Sts. Anthony, Macarius, Pachomius..., the Egyptian Monks, of those who lived in the Holy Land or in the Thebaid. ...implant in the darkness of the West and in the cold of Gaul the light of the East and the ancient fervor of Egyptian religious life." Jean Leclerq, Ancient traditional Spirituality

Latin Monastic Tradition:
Two of the most influential in Spirituality as Evagrius Ponticus, and John Cassian who established the first European monasteries according to the Pachomian ideal, and wrote the first Monastic manuals, the institutes and the Conferences. "If Benedict created the institutional frame of Latin monasticism, then Cassian helped define its inner life, its mystical aspirations," wrote Wm. Harmless, Desert Christians.
The Benedictine rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia (6th century), formed the basis of life in most monastic communities until the twelve century. The schema faded out until St. Bernard of Cleurvaux restored it to its original zenith. Among the principal monastic orders that evolved in the Middle Ages were the Carthusians in the eleventh century and the Cistercians in the twelfth; the Mendicant orders, or Friars, Dominicans, Franciscans, and Carmelites arose in the 13th century.

Theognosis, Learning Spirituality:
Theognosis, the knowing of God, has always been a means for a unity in love which transcends all knowledge. This ultimate end is union with God or, partaking in the nature of God, the theosis of church Fathers Ireneus and Athanasius. The eastern tradition whose masters were Origen, Evagrius, and Dionysius, the pseudo Areopagite, has never made a definite distinction between mysticism and theology; between personal experience of the divine mysteries.
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Back in university in the late 1970's, I took a course at the University of Washington titled "The Bible in Early and Medieval Literature and Culture". This book was one of the main textbooks. Thirty years later, I still open Leclercq's work to gain greater insight into the development of monastic culture. Leclercq died in October 1993, but not before leaving us with a treasure trove of writings on monastic life, lectio divina, and other subjects. "Love of Learning" is not casual reading, but intended for the serious student of history, especially anyone fascinated by monastic life, and the development of various forms of monasticism. As a Benedictine monk, Leclercq's hero of course is St. Benedict to whom he devotes many pages of insight, especially the development of Benedictine spirituality over the centuries after Benedict. That is where he has been of great help for my studies in the spread of Benedictine spirituality, and the influence of Benedictine culture upon western Europe and contemporary life. It is not by accident that Benedict is consider the Patron Saint of Europe. Through the spread of Benedictine abbeys across the landscape of Europe, from Portugul to Poland, from Sweden to Sicily, Benedictine life touched the lives of millions of Europeans in those centuries often known as "the dark ages", with Benedictine monks bringing literacy, health, agriculture, orchards, vineyards, industry, artistry, preservation of ancient manuscripts including the Bible, calligraphy, liturgy, modesty, humility, and stability to villages, towns and cities across a continent. No small feat!Read more ›
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Learning is one of my passions. Over the years I have seen a number of references to Leclercq's book and then I read it. In the Middle Ages (Eleventh century and beyond) learning happened in two social contexts: monastery and school. Leclercq focuses on the monastery, where the monks learned in order to praise God and live devout lives. To pray they had be be able to read the scriptures and other texts - both Christian and classical. What they read and prayed about prompted them to write their own expositions. The more famous of these are ones by Bernard of Clairvaux, Anselm and a few others. In general, the monks had little interest in abstract or conceptual learning; they left this to those teaching at the schools. Overall, Leclercq clearly and thoughtfully describes the learning at the monasteries, which influence later Western thought. The Middle Ages were not as "dark" as we sometimes think they were.
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