Paul Quenon, OCSO: Silence, Poetry and Monastic Wisdom (Part Two)

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:

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

Take a second to support the Encountering Silence Podcast on Patreon!
Carl McColman
Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.