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  • A Monk in the Inner City: The ABCs of a Spiritual Journey by Mary Lou Kownacki A Monk in the Inner City: The ABCs of a Spiritual Journey

    • Many centuries ago the ancient Desert Fathers and Mothers moved into the wilderness, leaving behind the compulsions of the world in order to draw near to God. For Mary Lou Kownacki, a Benedictine nun and long-time peacemaker, her wilderness is the inner city of Erie, Pennsylvania, surrounded by poor families trying to survive and keep hope alive amidst drugs, violence, and despair. From this outpost on the margins, she observes the world in poetic meditations, written with the passion of a prophet and the heart of a mystic. "I write about days when spiritual security, not fear, was a neighborhood s gift to children. It is one way of trying to stretch my monk s robe until it embraces the suffering world.

  • Peace is our calling: Contemporary monasticism and the peace movement by Mary Lou KownackiPeace is our calling: Contemporary monasticism and the peace movement

    • What does the Benedictine motto Pax mean for members of a monastery? Does it only concern inner peace or is there a responsibility to bring peace to a world torn with violence? Sister Mary Lou Kownacki sought an answer to that question by interviewing monastics and peace activists around the world and her inquiry resulted in the book, Peace Is Our Calling. People interviewed included Bede Griffiths, Thich Nhat Hanh, Henri Nouwen, Bishop Gumbleton, Meinrad Craighead and more. 

  • Old Monk by Mary Lou KownackiOld Monk

    • Old Monk invites us all to join the great dialogue of life in this collection of 50 poems and short commentaries.
      For her morning meditation, Benedictine monk Mary Lou Kownacki (aka Old Monk) read a poem from Han-shan’s classic, Cold Mountain, and then wrote a poem and short commentary in response. That year-long spiritual practice led to this collection of honest, humorous, poignant and inspiring poems.

  • The Blue Heron and Thirty-Seven Other Miracles by Mary Lou KownackiThe Blue Heron and Thirty-Seven Other Miracles

    • This book of poetry is an invitation, an encouragement to find the miraculous in the ordinary events of your life. Try to imagine how different life would be if we all recognized and reveled in the present, in the common, as sacrament.

  • Between Two Souls: Conversations with Ryokan

    • Between Two Souls: Conversations with Ryokan Kindle Edition by Mary Lou Kownacki, RyokanBetween Two Souls presents a spiritually uplifting conversation in poetry between a gifted modern-day Roman Catholic nun and a nineteenth-century Zen monk. Offering a unique entree into spiritual contemplation, this book pairs inspirational writing from two distinct but mutually enriching faith traditions, revealing the religious joy, wisdom, and all-embracing compassion that transcend temporal, cultural, and theological differences.
      Ryokan (1758-1831) is one of Japan's most-loved and most-renowned poets. After formal training at the Zen monastery of Entsu-ji, he refused offers to head his own temple and instead lived as a wandering monk in the snowy country around Mt. Kugami. Ryokan wrote thousands of poems during his travels but never published a collection himself. For two years Mary Lou Kownacki, a Benedictine nun, used Ryokan's poetry for devotions. Each morning she would read one of his poems, meditate on it, and then respond with one of her own. Between Two Souls is the result of this poetic interplay.
      Over the course of these pages, Kownacki and Ryokan's separate voices blend and become one, ultimately drawing the reader into their soulful dialogue on the eternal. Like echoes across time, these poems bring new depth and insight to truths that mark the meaning of the ages. Along the way they consider the smallest things in life, using them to gently warn us not to miss the bigger truths found in each moment, not to squander our souls.