Come and See is a look inside the mind of a monk. The vision of monastic life proposed here is not new; it is a vision going back to the Desert Fathers of the fourth century. And yet, it is new because it is rooted in a place in the soul that never grows old. Come and see where I live, Jesus said to the disciples who were following him. He could just as well have said, come and see where you live; where your real life is being lived. Monastic spirituality is not some esoteric or Gnostic way of perceiving reality or understanding life. It is a treasure hidden in the field of your own heart; it is a universal spirituality that is the common inheritance of every human being; it is a search for God. From the atheist to the saint there is in the heart of all creatures a desire for ultimate meaning, a desire for God. In this sense everyone has the heart of a monk.
As you read this book you will meet some of the great themes of monastic life: silence, solitude, community life, prayer. You will also be helped to find your most authentic self, the self Thomas Merton spoke of when he said at the center of our being is a point of nothingness, a point of pure truth. Nothingness, emptiness, absence are important aspects of our spiritual journey.
There is a subtheme running through ancient monasticism that conceives of the monastery as a hospital—a place for healing the soul, the spirit, the heart. The place of the heart is highlighted in these conferences and homilies as an ancient theme so relevant to the modern person.
Abbot Brendan Freeman entered New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, Iowa, in 1958 at the age of twenty. He received a masters degree in liturgical studies from The Catholic University of America in 1973. Fr. Brendan was elected abbot of his community in 1984 and has served in that position ever since.