At the evening meal in the refectory, the monks have just finished reading The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: History in Three Dimensions by Joseph Pearce, published in 2023.
Inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s vision of the history of the Church, Joseph Pearce traces three strands interwoven in Church History: The Good Saints, The Bad Persecutors, and The Beautiful Art.

Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life”, but fallen mankind, although made in Christ’s image, is not so pure. Human history—including Church history—is a tapestry woven of three threads: the good, the bad, and the beautiful. This book tells the story of Christendom over two millennia, focusing on what was good, bad, and beautiful in each century.

These three threads run through the heart of every person, revealing the pattern of our individual lives. These very same threads bind together the collective lives of men and make up the fabric of culture and civilization.

No one saw this three-dimensional form more clearly than Benedict XVI. For him, the goodness of the saints and the beauty of art are the only antidote to the dark thread of evil that runs through history. Inspired by this insight, Joseph Pearce presents the past twenty centuries to show how goodness and beauty—stemming from God himself—work to conquer the bad.

“Reading will always accompany the meals of the brethren. The reader should not be the one who just happens to pick up the book, but someone who will read for a whole week, beginning on Sunday.  Let there be complete silence. No whispering, no speaking–only the reader’s voice should be heard there.” – The Rule of St. Benedict, chapter 38

Other books previously read by the monks: