Paul Quenon, OCSO: Silence, Poetry and Monastic Wisdom (Part Two)
September 15, 2020
Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO, concludes his conversation with us recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO, Trappist monk, poet, and photographer, is the author of books like In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk's Memoir and Unquiet Vigil: New and Selected Poems. He returned to Encountering Silence for a conversation recorded last April (to hear his previous conversations on this podcast, click here and here). In this episode he speaks about the spirituality of nature, how God sometimes feels absent, and the challenge of being a poet in a time of dejection.
This is part two of a two-part interview. To listen to part one, click here.
Nature for me is very congenial... the birds are my teachers, they always seem to be exhilarated, no matter how bad the world is, they're singing that same tune, and it picks up the heart: there's something larger than ourselves and our concerns. — Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO
Brother Paul entered monastic life in 1958, when he was only 17 years old — back before the reforms of the Second Vatical Council, when the life of a Trappist was even more austere than it is today. His novice master turned out to be Thomas Merton, who eventually became an inspiration to Brother Paul not only as a monk, but as a writer.
It might be a mistake to seek the fullness of God. God, to our perception, is more like nothing, nothingness and emptiness. You have to allow God to manifest the way God will. Sometimes it's consoling, sometimes you feel a presence... on the other hand, sometimes you just have to prepare yourself to the reality that God does not speak sometimes. — Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO
Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:
Paul Quenon, Amounting to Nothing
Paul Quenon, In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk's Memoir
Paul Quenon, Unquiet Vigil: New and Selected Poems
Paul Quenon, Bells of the Hours
Paul Quenon, Afternoons with Emily
Paul Quenon, Monkswear
Paul Quenon, Laughter: My Purgatory
Paul Quenon, Terrors of Paradise
Paul Quenon with Judith Valente and Michael Bever, The Art of Pausing
Julian of Norwich, The Showings of Julian of Norwich: A New Translation
Eugene Peterson, Earth & Altar: The Community of Prayer in a Self-Bound Society
Saint Benedict, The Rule of Saint Benedict
The Buddha, Teachings of the Buddha
Daniel C. Walsh, Correspondence
Thomas Merton, Essential Writings
The Beatles, Sergeant Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club Band
Matthew Kelty, Singing For The Kingdom: The Last of the Homilies
I think a lot of people are feeling very dejected, at a loss, and maybe what the Lord wants me to do is feel at a loss with them. — Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO
Episode 111: Silence, Poetry, and Monastic Wisdom: A Conversation with Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman and Kevin Johnson
Guest: Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO
Date Recorded: April 30, 2020