To discover the Rule of St Benedict is to encounter something that is at once inspiring, supporting, reassuring, challenging. Let this book be an introduction to the writing of a man who will change your life. Esther de Waal, author of Seeking God: The Way of St Benedict The Rule of St Benedict has much to say about faith, work and daily living. In a time when many are seeking space, silence and spiritual depth, the Rule retains relevance in a world where change is often feared, stability can be elusive and busyness interferes with listening to God. Life with St Benedict provides daily reflections on the Rule as an aid to enabling personal spiritual growth and prayer. Benedictine communities use a well-established pattern of daily readings to enable the entire Rule to be considered over a four-month period. Life with St Benedict follows this pattern. Each four-month long period begins on 1 January, 2 May and 1 September and each entry shows three dates on which it can be read. There are 122 readings and reflections in each period.
The author is a Reader in the Church of England and an oblate (a lay or ordained person formally associated to a particular monastic community) connected to the Anglican Benedictine Community. Therefore he is well-placed to share the practical application of St Benedict’s Rule of Life with people who are not members of a monastic community.
Life with St Benedict introduces us to the writings of a man who was inspirational 1,500 years ago and who continues to invoke changes in lives today.
The Rule of Life is a personal rule that can be tailored to Christians, whatever their circumstances, who witness to the Gospel through their relationships with those with whom they live and work.
The rules may include praying daily, attending church, almsgiving, as well as making provision for study, recreation, and family. The vows of St Benedict of stability, conversion morum (fidelity to the monastic life) and obedience to the heads of the community relate specifically to life in a Benedictine community.
The book provides daily study in the form of 73 short chapters that look at aspects such as ‘tools for good works’ (Ch 4) and ‘Restraint of Speech (Ch 6). The study is repeated on a four-monthly cycle as ‘reinforcement of the Rules for the lives of the student’. It includes study and reflections on the Psalms and (very) short prayers. The pertinent questions in the reflections could provide a useful basis for Bible study, meditation or contemplation.
Language and culture have certainly changed over 1,500 years. The reader (and UK legislation) may not necessarily agree with corporal punishment or enforced fasting for the misdeeds of children (Ch 30)!
Life with St Benedict uses a translation of more inclusive language and is written with ordinary Christians in mind to assist in our faith, work and daily living. It retains a relevance where change is often feared, stability is elusive, and the hectic nature of our lives interferes with listening to God.
There are many similar study books, but this one is well written and makes the Rule of St Benedict accessible to all, regardless of the stage of your journey of faith.
(As a bonus, this book explains some of the actions of Father Cadfael played by David Jacobi in the TV Series.)
Preach magazine book review by Alan Rashleigh
AUTHOR: Richard Frost is a Reader in the Church of England and an Oblate of the Anglican Benedictine Community at Alton Abbey in Hampshire. Formerly an Employment Specialist helping people with mental health conditions, he writes a blog at workrestpray.com.