Joan Chittister, one of our Living Spiritual Teachers and the focus of one of our Practicing Spirituality E-Courses, has been a Benedictine nun for more than 50 years. She is the founder and executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality located in Erie, Pennsylvania. Sister Joan writes a column for the National Catholic Reporter and is the author of more than 30 books. She serves as co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women and is the vice chair of the international and interreligious Niwano Peace Foundation in Tokyo, Japan.

This excellent and soul-stirring collection of her writings has been complied and edited by her friend Mary Lou Kownacki, a Benedictine nun and writer in residence at Inner-City Neighborhood Art House. She is director of Benetvision Publishing and former National Coordinator of Pax Christi USA. Her most recent books are Between Two Souls: Conversations with Ryokan and A Monk in the Inner City: The ABCs of a Spiritual Journey.

In the introduction to this work. Kownacki uses the word "Seeker" to describe the essence of Joan Chittister's adventurous and passionate journey: "She probes the hard questions, forges new answers, and exposes the reasons behind the reasons people give for doing things that no longer work." Kownacki correctly states that thanks to the scope and depth of her work, Chittister will probably be placed alongside Benedictine luminaries such as Hildegard of Bingen. She closes the introduction with a fine quotation from her mentor and friend:

"The commitment to question every aspect of the human journey is the only form of fidelity worth the price of admission to this sojourn called life."

Joan Chittister: In My Own Words is divided into sections on:

• What Do I Believe?
• What Does It Mean to Be Human?
• Who Is a Contemplative?
• Where Can We Find Hope?
• How Can We Live In Peace?
• What Is Sin?
• When Is It Time For Women?

Here are some quotations from the book that address some of the practices in our Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy:

On Beauty
"A loss of commitment to beauty may be the clearest sign we have lost our way to God. Without beauty we miss the glory of the face of God in the here and now."

On Transformation
"Change may frighten us, of course, but it may just as surely free us from our old selves and freshen us for life newborn. Change dusts off our dreams and explodes us into new beginnings."

On Hope
"Hope is what sustains us when we have little or no confidence left. At the end of a bad stretch, hope — hope that the will of God will finally prevail — is all that is left to sustain us."

On Vision
"Vision is not the ability to predict the future; it is a commitment to pursue possibility. Vision asks questions no one else even seems to know exist. Vision is the grace to evaluate the present and then to ask, Why not? of the future."