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We Live With Our Eyes Open


Dom Hubert, in summing up this book’s theme, quotes Joubert: “How many people eat, drink, marry, buy, sell, build, make fortunes, acquire friends and enemies, enjoy pleasure, endure pain; in short are born, grow up and die—but asleep.” It is this sleep which Dom Hubert desires to combat in this series of reflections upon the relations of man with his fellow humans and God. Prayer and the life of grace, married love and friendship, modernity and the Gospel all feature in these pages. The wide array of topics addressed include:

  • How to assist at Mass, and whether or not “Ought I to use a missal or can I go on saying the rosary?” is even the right question
  • The difference between sensation and sentiment in married love
  • The expression, material, and problem with interior prayer (not to mention it’s condition and idiom)
  • The vocation of teachers and the necessity of treating pupils with a supernatural outlook
  • How to approach the universal call to mystical union with God
  • What true asceticism asks and how it operates.
  • How both the Mass and Marriage call us to a Johannine charity

In the midst of the reflections, Dom Hubert pauses to recall one of his main sources of inspiration—a close friend, the Dominican Father Bede Jarrett, and a last series of conversations before Father Jarret’s death. “Much especially that deals with Christian love is an echo of those August mornings,” writes Dom Hubert, “While the section describing leadership has Father Bede of course as a model.”

Born in British-controlled Egypt, Dom Hubert van Zeller (1905–1984) was a Benedictine monk of Downside Abbey in Bath, England, where he was educated. Of his scholastic career he said that he “passed no examinations—merely by-passed them.” The author of numerous books ranging from scriptural commentary to fiction and biography, he was also renowned as a minimalist sculptor and cartoonist. He was a friend of Ronald Knox and of Evelyn Waugh, who described Dom Hubert’s writings as “characterized by vitality and elegance.”




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We Live With Our Eyes Open