Where’s that GPS for the human soul when you need it? Every day brings us deeper into religious and moral terrain that appears to shift before our eyes. An aggressive eighteenth-century atheism, newly invigorated, suddenly looms before us. Organized terrorism threatens to render obsolete a tradition of thinking about Just War. Bio-medical research and technology challenge our developed sense of what it means to be human. Church, for many of our children, is now spelled “Facebook.” We indeed live in a time of spiritual disorientation.
How, then, do you orient yourself on the journey of faith when you’re not sure which end is up, when familiar landmarks disappear, and you discover that the path you thought you were following played out many miles ago? You take your bearings as best you can with the tools available, aided by your wits and what the biblical tradition has identified as God’s mysterious presence—whether recognized as a fiery pillar at night, Wisdom, or, simply, God’s Spirit.
The Bible is certainly one of the tools available to us, but there are others as well, including the insight of those who have done their best to figure out the lay of unfamiliar territory. For over 40 years the Collegeville Institute has been a fruitful place for work and reflection for some of the finest guides to the life of faith. Christians and other people of faith have been able to find direction through the work of Institute scholars such as Parker Palmer, Kathleen Norris, Henri Nouwen, David Tracy, and Joan Chittister.
In each issue of Bearings Magazine you will find representative work of those who pass through the Collegeville Institute, or the nearby Benedictine communities of Saint John’s and Saint Benedict’s—communities that have long shaped the Institute’s character. You will also learn about the ongoing life of the Collegeville Institute. And it is our sincere hope that in each issue you will find bearings for the contemporary life of faith.