Sr. Joan Chittister is a foremost interpreter of the Rule of Benedict and the Benedictine Way of Life. She has written much on the topic, all of her books making the Discipline of Monastic life according to St. Benedict transferable to everyday life of lay and clergy. This book is directed to be used as a meditation on scripture broken out in three parts of the year, and reflections and prayer on what Benedict was searching for in ordinary life for monks. To our benefit, Chittister transcribes these ideas through contemporary examples to make the Rule livable for us. This is no easy task, but is extremely well done in this book. Balance, simplicity, order, stability, recognizing and finding God in the ordinary of every day life are at the heart of her reflections. A sample: “Clearly for Benedict, God is not something to be achieved; God is a presence to be responded to from whom without that presence we cannot respond … our task is not to put God into our lives. God is already there. Our task is simply to realize that.” (pp 16–17). Chittister, a former abbess of a Benedictine Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania, and an activist within the Roman Catholic Church on women’s rights, is one of four spiritual people who down through the last few decades has helped us to become engaged with the Rule of Benedict and helping make the Rule a part of our daily lives. The three others are Esther de Waal, an English woman and Anglican, Cynthia Bourgeault, an American Episcopalian and author of Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, another wonderful book, and finally, Thomas Keating, O.S.B., an American Roman Catholic. Many of their books are in St. Philip’s Renouf/Nelson Library.
—The Rev. Paul Buckwalter
The Rev. Paul Buckwalter writes reviews of books you can find in the Renouf/Nelson Library.