Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Michael Casey on “Fully Human, Fully Divine”

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Below is an interview of Fr. Casey January, 2010 where Fr. Casey shares his thoughts on what he calls his best book.  Admittedly this is the most difficult of Fr. Casey's books but well worth the effort.

Fully Human, Fully Divine, which I think is my best book, is really just closely tied to the Gospel [of Mark] but it’s also, in a very clear way, a continuation, if I wanted to be ambitious, of what the Cistercian Fathers were doing. By taking the Scriptures and interpreting them in a behavioristic kind of light and drawing in our own contemporary experience. . . . It’s a very challenging book in some parts so I wonder whether this will be suitable for other people. Yet from the feedback I received, all sorts of different people are reading it, monks least of all possible… Cistercian monks least of all [laughs]. It’s being read in a lot of Benedictian refectories. The two biggest Benedictian communities in this country, which is Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and Saint John’s Collegeville, in both, every monk received a copy of it. It’s unabashedly from the Cistercian end of the Benedictian spectrum, it’s talking about Cistercian values, but I was very interested in just the wide spread acceptance of what I had to say. It tells me to trust in my own instincts. To say what I want to say and if people want to hear it, they will hear it. Perhaps, as often happens, they will hear more than I thought I was saying. So it’s a very monastic book which has had a wide readership. It’s a bit the same with Thomas Merton. His most monastic writings are the one that people seem to enjoy the most. The ones that are more political and perhaps controversial, have a readership and following but not of the same depth and enthusiasm as those who read books like The Sign of Jonas, which is just simply monastic gossip written in appealing language but it’s just what happened in the monastery in the 1940’s or 50’s whenever it was written. Not much happens but people are interested in the monastic side of things.

Br Chris: Are your non-monastic readers challenged by your work?

Fr Michael Casey: I hope so, I suspect so. They try to put my writings into their context. I think that’s far more realistic for the reader to put it into his or her context than for me to try and imagine where the reader might be and try to talk to that imaginary person. So if what I say is true to my context, they just simply have to take it and put it into their context. Obviously, that means a very active and intelligent sort of reader.

[go to second article in series]

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