I envy them, those monks of old; Their books they read, and their beads they told.

It is a way of life that is absolutely foreign to our times. Its value is as difficult to discern as it is to know where piety ends and obsession begins. If it is a goal to be sought it is only the very few who will be able to seek it in this way. While withdrawal from the world is not a thing that we see as necessary or even advisable – at least not for a lifetime – the insights that they may offer as retreat masters when we do stop and consider our place in the order of things may be invaluable. I will not be joining them but I am glad they are there.

An infinity of little hours : five  young men and their trial of faith in the  western world’s most austere monastic order   Nancy Klein Maguire New York :  Public Affairs, c 2006  Carthusians  St.  Hugh’s Charterhouse (West Sussex, England)  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xii, 258  p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical  references (p. 241-243) and index. Clean,  tight and strong binding with clean dust  jacket. No highlighting, underlining or  marginalia in text. VG/VG

Five young men arrived at the imposing gates of Parkminster, the largest center of the most rigorous and ascetic monastic order in the Western world: the Carthusians. This is the story of their five-year journey into a society virtually unchanged in its behavior and lifestyle since its foundation in 1084.

An Infinity of Little Hours is a uniquely intimate portrait of the customs and practices of a monastic order almost entirely unknown until now. It is also a drama of the men’s struggle as they avoid the decade of hedonism, music, fashion, and amorality — and enter an entirely different era and a spiritual world of their own making.

After five years each must face a choice: to make “solemn profession” and never leave Parkminster; or to turn his back on his life’s ambition to find God in solitude.

A remarkable investigative work, the book combines first-hand testimony with unique source material to describe the Carthusian life. And in the final chapter, which recounts a reunion forty years after the events described elsewhere in the book, Nancy Klein Maguire reveals which of the five succeeded in their quest, and which did not.


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