With Great Liberty: A Short History of Christian Monasticism and Religious Orders. By Karl Suso Frank, O.F.M. Translated and with a postscript by Joseph T. Lienhard, SJ.
Cistercian Studies Series, Number 104.
(Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications. 1993. Pp. 269.)
Karl Suso Frank, O.F.M., professor of ancient church history and patristics at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universaet in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, is well known for his important publications in the field of the history of monasticism. In 1975 he published his Geschichte des christlichen Moenchtums, well received by reviewers and public alike. The Cistercian Studies Series presents here a translation of the fourth edition of Frank's work, supplemented by the translator, Joseph T. Lienhard, S.J., with a "Translator's Postscript" chronicling contemporary developments and a "Further Reading" section, nineteen pages of well-chosen books and articles on the history of religious orders, the greater majority in English, with a few German, French, and Italian titles. Unfortunately, there is no index provided, nor are there any of the usual maps or chronologies students and educated readers find so helpful.
The book offers the reader a resume, intended for a broad audience, of the history of Christian monasticism from its origins through the twentieth century, highlighting periods of transition and innovation. Proposing a volume that will "demonstrate the adaptability of the monastic ideal, namely: living for God in the quest of one's own perfection, amid a community of brothers or sisters, serving the Church and the world," Frank intends monasticism to be understood here as Christian religious Life, the history of which "encompasses all the realizations of the monastic idea up to the present, from the monks of the Egyptian desert to the members of secular institutes who live in the midst of the modern world" (p. …