Cover image for Cloister and community : life within a Carmelite monastery
Cloister and community : life within a Carmelite monastery
Weaver, Mary Jo.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xi, 113 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BX4324.I53 W43 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



"For centuries the Spanish mystic Teresa of Avila has fascinated anyone interested in a life lived out of the depths of the human spirit. With warm and lively prose, Mary Jo Weaver tells not only Teresa_s story but also how Teresa_s ideals are lived by contemporary Carmelite nuns in Indianapolis. You will not want to set down this beautifully crafted tapestry of a saint and her modern daughters until you have turned its final page."
_Keith J. Egan

Cloister and Community is both a history of the Carmelite monastery of Indianapolis and an introduction to the Carmelites, a contemplative order of Roman Catholicism, founded in the 13th century and rededicated as a reform movement for religious women in the 16th century by Teresa of Avila. A key element of the order is that its nuns live an ascetic, cloistered life, but as Mary Jo Weaver demonstrates, the view that one must "leave the world" to find sacred space apart from it has evolved to embrace the notion that the world itself is sacred space.

Weaver focuses on a modern Indianapolis community and describes how the sisters incorporate Carmelite belief and practice into their daily lives. Cloister and Community is a beautifully written and handsomely produced book that offers readers a privileged view of the world of present-day contemplative spirituality.

Author Notes

Mary Jo Weaver is Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University. Her most recent books, Being Right and What_s Left? (both Indiana University Press), have dealt with divisions within American Catholicism at the turn of the millennium. She has been a friend of the Indianapolis Carmelites for more than 20 years.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

"If the book has a plot, it is this one," begins Weaver in this fascinating snapshot of the history of the Carmelite monastery in Indianapolis. "The community that began in 1932 as a group living in a sacred space apart from the world has changed over time into a community that sees the world itself as a sacred space." This branch of Carmelites was founded by Teresa of Avila in the mid-16th century to be small, unendowed and enclosed (literally, cloistered). Weaver's book shows how the nuns in Indianapolis have tried to balance these ideals with the challenges of living in the modern world (e.g., making a living through their typesetting business, or handling the volume of traffic on their popular Web site, The book is imaginatively organized, with each chapter corresponding to some architectural phase of the monastery's construction; the chapter on contemplative prayer, for example, is centered around the building of the new chapel in 1961. Based on written history, in-depth interviews with the monastery's residents and a profound sense of place, Weaver's book raises important questions about change and religious community. (Oct. 4) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

1 Creating a Sacred Space
2 A Few Rooms/A Few Sisters
3 Content with Little
4 Never Out/Never Seen
5 Moving Stillness
6 A Door to the Universe
Additional Notes
Some Important Dates