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Cosmas, or the Love of God (1977)

by Pierre de Calan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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331742,409 (4)17
"It is a fascinating study of a spiritual crisis and of the wisdom and experience of monastic life." --William Rees-Mogg, editor in chief, The Times (of London) "Pierre de Calan's choice of subject is remarkable not only because it is a profound study of life in a Cistercian monastery, but because he has had no firsthand knowledge as a monk." --Elizabeth Berridge in the (London) Daily Telegraph   Devout, sensitive, young Cosmas believes that he has a vocation to become a Trappist monk, but the reality of monastic life disappoints him deeply. Fellow monks are hard to live with. The life of the monastery seems worldly. He is disheartened by his own shortcomings and appalled by the weaknesses of others. If he can't live the life, does that mean God isn't calling him to it? What should he do? Many people--single, married, vowed, ordained--ask these same questions. Pierre de Calan explores them all in this exquisite tale of a man who learns that sanctity does not mean perfection.… (more)
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Cosmas, or the Love of God is the story of a young man who seeks to join the Cistercian monastery of La Trappe (birthplace of the Trappist Order), but can't quite seem to manage it. But it's also the story of everyone who has ever made a decision and tried to stick with it not matter how wrong that choice may have been.

The novel is narrated by the former master of novices to a visiting retreatant in the present day (i.e. the 1970s), although most of the novel occurs in the 1930s. Time has given the narrator perspective, although even now the events surrounding Cosmas trouble him deeply.

When Cosmas arrived he appeared the model novice. However, it soon appears that his ideals concerning the monastery fail to match up with earthly realities, and he suffers a nervous break down and returns to the outside world for a period. Although he maintains he has learned his lesson, events soon begin repeating themselves on his return. This time he practically runs away. Stability is one of the most important values of the Benedictine rule, but it seems the one hurdle Cosmas can't jump. Is his vocation true or not? He wants it to be, but ultimately, he is not the one who decides.

An insightful, readable novel about life, choices, and fidelity. You don't have to be Catholic to enjoy it. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote inge87 | Feb 25, 2014 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pierre de Calanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hebblethwaite, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, JamesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Cosmas's first cell was just here.
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"It is a fascinating study of a spiritual crisis and of the wisdom and experience of monastic life." --William Rees-Mogg, editor in chief, The Times (of London) "Pierre de Calan's choice of subject is remarkable not only because it is a profound study of life in a Cistercian monastery, but because he has had no firsthand knowledge as a monk." --Elizabeth Berridge in the (London) Daily Telegraph   Devout, sensitive, young Cosmas believes that he has a vocation to become a Trappist monk, but the reality of monastic life disappoints him deeply. Fellow monks are hard to live with. The life of the monastery seems worldly. He is disheartened by his own shortcomings and appalled by the weaknesses of others. If he can't live the life, does that mean God isn't calling him to it? What should he do? Many people--single, married, vowed, ordained--ask these same questions. Pierre de Calan explores them all in this exquisite tale of a man who learns that sanctity does not mean perfection.

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