“Young seekers kept discovering Big Sur. In the summer of 1970, a young Catholic named Kevin Joyce was driving down the coast with a friend and decided to stop in at the hermitage bookstore. The monk behind the counter was the charming French Canadian with the black beret, Bernard Massicotte, and the two of them had a lively conversation before Joyce continued on his journey. Less than a year later, Joyce underwent a 'mini-crisis' while in seminary and realized he needed to get away to recover his balance. Back he headed to New Camaldoli, this time bringing with him a collection of writings by the medieval German mystic, Meister Eckhart. Though he still didn’t get a chance to meet the new prior in person, he heard enough about Barnhart, no doubt from the loquacious Massicotte, to realize that, whatever its problems, the hermitage was clearly in the hands of a 'beautiful soul.'

“Joyce went on to graduate seminary, decided he did not have a vocation after all, then headed to Europe for nine months where he studied with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Though the practice of meditation had been drawing young westerners eastward in droves for at least a decade by now, Catholic seminaries did not teach it, and Joyce — intensely interested in the mystical path — was hungry to learn. He became an ardent practitioner of transcendental meditation, at the same time continuing to faithfully attend Mass. This was not an uncommon story in the seventies. The church was so preoccupied with incorporating the liturgical changes precipitated by Vatican II into its often resistant parishes that it failed to identify, prioritize, and address the obvious spiritual hunger of its youth. Longing for more, many left the pews altogether, while some, like Joyce, quietly inserted Eastern practices into the otherwise Catholic structure of their lives.”