Harriet A. Luckman and Linda Kulzer, O.S.B., Eds. Purity of Heart in Early Ascetic and Monastic Literature

(Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1999)

Two Collegium alumnae have drawn together a fine book of essays in honor of a late scholar and member of the Benedictine community at Saint Benedict's, MN, Sr. Juana Raasch, O.S.B. Most of the essays are of particular interest to scholars of early church history and monasticism. Beyond that audience, the authors' concentration on the meaning of "purity of heart" may prove especially compelling, since it is a potent concern in scripture and Christian spiritual writings.

From the perspective of faith and the intellectual life, this book is perhaps most helpful as a reminder that the divisions we set up between the heart and the mind are not divisions which were made in biblical sources. In the bible and the early church, "heart" referred not to the physical organ, or simply to the emotions, but rather to a broader notion of self, unified in search of God: "the source of thought and reason, the source of volition and decision, the center of emotions, and the seat of human wisdom." Recalling this may help us to see more readily where the head and the heart, as we separate them today, might more profitably be drawn together, and both provide means for Christian virtues of love and care.