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Among books of spiritual direction, that are short, and in English, my favourite is probably The Cloud of Unknowing — written in Chaucer’s day by some anonymous cleric, perhaps a Carthusian. He is not without personality, so that once we notice it we realize that a second treatise, The Book...

My head is full of Shakespeare Sonnets at the moment, from trying to teach this author to startlingly intelligent and perceptive young seminarians. The poet’s allusions to the ruined monasteries that punctuate the Tudor countryside are … poignant at the least. The Sonnets were published late in Shakespeare’s career (1609) —...