Joan Chittister is a Benedictine sister and internationally known visionary voice in church and society. She has written more than 60 books and has received numerous awards for her writings and work on behalf of peace, justice, and women's rights.

Chitttister js profiled in S&P's Living Spiritual Teachers Project, is the focus of one of our Practicing Spirituality e-courses, and has developed six e-courses for our School of Spiritual Life.

While regularly surveying and assessing spiritual writers, we have discovered that Chittister is a master in many areas. Whereas younger authors have tried to set up shop as experts respected for one specific teaching, Chittister has always been a polymath who has read and studied widely both in her own Christian tradition and in sources from other religions. Her breadth of interests is obvious in Spiritual Questions for the Twenty-First Century: Essays in Honor of Joan Chittister by Mary Hembrow Snyder in which 25 contributors respond to Chittister's commentaries on the significant spiritual questions of our time.

We always look forward to a new book from her knowing it will reflect her vision and imagination. Now Chittiser's polymath spirit shines through a new book of short and illuminating reflections on grace-filled moments in a year. Each month has a special focus: To Hear a Broken Heart, Choose Joy, The Virtue of Self-Acceptance, The Virtue of Protest, and others. After a reflection on the monthly theme, Chittister offers daily comments, often incorporating quotes from spiritual, literacy, and political figures. As usual, she does not stick to obvious sources. For her meditation to introduce the theme of listening for January, she looks to Beyonce's song "Listen," taking from it this message: "Listening is the glue -- or the downfall -- of every relationship."

Although designed to be used as a thematic daybook, this is also one of those books that you can just open to any random page for a spark of inspiration. Here are a few examples:

"February 3: No, life is not one long party. That's exactly why parties are so important. They remind us of God's eternal goodness. They help us to remember on difficult days that the sun of the heart will surely rise again for us."

"April 13: We seek God the Warrior when we should be looking for God the Mystery and the answer to everything. Nikos Kazantzakis writes, 'God changes appearances every second. Blessed is the one who can recognize God in all disguises.' "

"May 24: There's no need to brag your way through life. As Judith Martin says, 'It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.' "

"June 18: Hospitality is the sacrament of the self. In it we give ourselves away to those who need to rest their burdens for a while. In turn, they give us another view of the world that will stretch and test and fill us with thoughts enough to grow on."

"July 3: We are not born for our own satisfaction. We are born to bring satisfaction to others. W. H. Auden writes, 'You owe it to all of us to get on with what you're good at.' "

"September 12: Change does not happen at once. It takes time before everyone realizes that there's a problem. Then it takes more time to understand it. Finally, it takes a while before the world stands up and says, 'Stop this.' But someone has to stand up first or nothing will happen at all. Ever."

"October 25: How is it that our conception of morality has so easily ignored our relationship to nature? 'No one,' Marguerite of Navarre said, 'every perfectly loved God who did not perfectly love God's creatures in this world."

"November 23: Not everyone can speak multiple languages, as important as that gift may be. But everyone who reads deeply and regularly can learn what it means to look at life from multiple directions. The Zen Master teaches: A scholar was bragging to a boatman about all the knowledge he had acquired. 'Can you swim?' the boatman asked. 'No,' the scholar replied. 'Then all your knowledge is wasted,' the boatman said, 'because this boat is sinking.' "

"December 8: Beware the day you say of yourself, 'If only I had done that and not this….' Lament is not an excuse for not starting again. It is simply proof that we have learned one more thing about life on the way."