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Cloister and Community: Life within a Carmelite Monastery [Hardcover]

By Mary Jo Weaver (Author)
Our Price $ 25.46  
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Item Number 159647  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   128
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 11.22" Width: 7.88" Height: 0.76"
Weight:   1.59 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Aug 29, 2002
Publisher   Indiana University Press
ISBN  0253341841  
EAN  9780253341846  

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Item Description...

"For centuries the Spanish mystic Teresa of Avila has fascinated anyone interested in a life lived out of the depths of the human spirit. With warm and lively prose, Mary Jo Weaver tells not only Teresa's story but also how Teresa's ideals are lived by contemporary Carmelite nuns in Indianapolis. You will not want to set down this beautifully crafted tapestry of a saint and her modern daughters until you have turned its final page."
--Keith J. Egan

Cloister and Community is both a history of the Carmelite monastery of Indianapolis and an introduction to the Carmelites, a contemplative order of Roman Catholicism, founded in the 13th century and rededicated as a reform movement for religious women in the 16th century by Teresa of Avila. A key element of the order is that its nuns live an ascetic, cloistered life, but as Mary Jo Weaver demonstrates, the view that one must "leave the world" to find sacred space apart from it has evolved to embrace the notion that the world itself is sacred space.

Weaver focuses on a modern Indianapolis community and describes how the sisters incorporate Carmelite belief and practice into their daily lives. Cloister and Community is a beautifully written and handsomely produced book that offers readers a privileged view of the world of present-day contemplative spirituality.

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More About Mary Jo Weaver

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Biographical Statement: Mary Jo Weaver is Professor of Religious Studies
at Indiana University. In addition to her early work on Roman Catholic
modernism, she has published two editions of a textbook, Introduction to
Christianity, and two books on feminism and American Catholicism, New
Catholic Women and Springs of Water in a Dry Land. She is the co-editor
(with R. Scott Appleby) of a companion volume to this book, Being Right:
Conservative Catholics in America.

Mary Jo Weaver currently resides in the state of Indiana.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Traditional Carmelites Flourishing!  May 14, 2006
Just had to add a word to the discussion of this book, to inform anyone considering reading this book: My daughter(19 yr old) recently entered a beautiful Carmel is SD, and they wear full habits, have a double grate, remain cloistered, pray incessantly, are vegetarians, incorporate Latin in their hymns and liturgy, and still follow the ancient traditions set in place by blessed St. Theresa of Avila. This Convent opened in SD with only 4 Sisters from NY in the mid 90's. They now number 13, many of which are young women in their 20's. I've never met a more joyful, holy group of women. The traditional orders are flourishing, while those Ms. Weaver writes about are dying on the vine. Praise God some convents remain uninfected from modernism and all that goes with it.
Blending of worlds together  May 27, 2005
I became interested in Mary Jo Weaver's book 'Cloister and Community' for several reasons - I am a solitary follower of spiritual practices derivative of monastic traditions; the idea of communities in transition intrigues me; finally, the fictional account in Mark Salzman's 'Lying Awake' of a Carmelite community in particular made me want to understand a real community's life and dynamic.

Weaver, a professor of religious studies at my old university (Indiana University), is a scholar with particular interests in the American Catholic community and experience. For this particular text, Weaver concentrates on the Carmelite community in Indianapolis, a community that lives in a building that looks more like a medieval castle than a modern community, despite having the relatively recent origins in the 1930s. Using the idea of a tapestry, Weaver explains the ongoing development of the building and the community in both physical and spiritual senses.

Weaver begins the general history of the monastery with Teresa of Avila, whose influence on monastic life in general, and Carmelite experience in particular, continues to be a guiding force to this day. She steps through the ideas that have been strong in the overall development of Carmelite life - poverty, enclosure, small communities, prayerfulness and silence - in succeeding chapters, drawing on the influences of the architecture of the building, interviews with the residents, histories of Carmelites in this and other communities past and present, and spiritual influences, particularly looking at the shift in life and practice since Vatican II.

The community at Indianapolis has revised their practice to no longer include nuns in habits (there is a series of photographs of Miriam Elder as an example - in 1967 she was in full habit; in 1972 in modified habit; finally, in 1983 in ordinary lay clothes), no longer separated from the world by grilles and gates, and no longer living invisibly in the midst of the community. Weaver discusses one of the most recent efforts of the Carmelite community, that of extending outreach toward vocations, as one in which the modern world was welcomed as a partner (which included the establishment of a website and partnership with a local advertising agency to work on public relations and community connection).

Weaver explores throughout the text the theological and spiritual underpinning of the community - this includes Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, certainly, but also draws on ideas from diverse strands of Catholic tradition, including Meister Eckhart and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Benedict and Bernard, Julian of Norwich and documents of the Second Vatican Council. Within the various tensions that these sources create, the community lives and moves and finds its being.

This book is a rich visual treat, despite being a grayscale production rather than full-colour. The pages are adorned with architectural highlights (which includes plans, long shots and close-up details), as well as photographs of the community in its daily life and work past and present. The page layout itself is a contemplative treat, with just enough word/image/blank space interplay to give a sense, even without reading, of the pattern of life between work, leisure, contemplation and study.

This is a wonderful book, a rare piece of history and current life blended together.
neither cloister not community  Jan 8, 2005
It is unfortunate that I cannot rate this as 0 star. Surely not all Carmelites have sunk to such a low state & expression. I can only hope that the author has superimposed her own weak, new-age philosophy and understanding over what Carmel was designed to be. Surely even a Carmel that had dispensed with the grille & habit wouldn't replace person faith & worship of Jesus Christ as savior and Lord for the vague worship of god in the expression of the universe. If Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever then as St. Paul said, "if it is only for this life that we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men."

For a better understanding of the Carmelite life I recommend The Interior Castle or The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila, the founder of the discaled Carmelite order or The Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux [especially the unabridged version translated by John Clark O.C.D.] or the lesser known book My Beloved written by Mother Catherine Thomas. Leave the contemplation of the universe to the buddhist and say with Elijah on Mt. Carmel, "if the Lord be God then worship Him."

Deconstruction of Conventual Life  Jun 7, 2004
This book is about a community of Carmelite Nuns that went from a traditional experience of monastic life to a community with a novel interpretation of religious life. It is a painful read, it is the devolution of religious life. Experimentation into extinction, active and contemplative Roman Catholic communities reevaluated their faith and practice during and after Vatican II. Those who removed the basic reasons for existence; community, common symbols and common ministry and have not attracted a single new vocation for decades. The book is a documentation one such community that removed the distinctives of Carmelite life and now are in a difficult situation. How to leave a legacy without having new entrants to the religious life (at the same time justify all those changes)? Carmels are diverse i.e. Reno no grill, no enclosure, no habit, and no growth verses Carmel of Terra Haute grill, enclosure, habit, and growth. Let the reader remember one thing, there are healthy and growing traditional contemplative communities.

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