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The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century Paperback – Aug 1 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company; Second Edition, Second edition edition (Aug. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824525949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824525941
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #119,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"By offering informed commentary that links St. Benedict's Rule with contemporary questions, Sr. Joan suceeds in her task of making 'an ancient document accessible to a modern reading public.'"  —New Oxford Review

About the Author

Joan Chittister is the executive director of the company Benetvision, which serves as a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality; a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie; and a former past president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. She writes "From Where I Stand," a weekly column in the National Catholic Reporter, and is the author of many books, including The Friendship of Women, The Gift of Years, In Search of Belief, In the Heart of the Temple, and Wisdom Distilled from the Daily. She lives in Erie, Pennsylvania.


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By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on Feb. 8 2006
Format: Paperback
The Rule of St. Benedict itself is a fairly short book, usually printed in fewer than 100 pages, with its 73 chapters of a few paragraphs in length at most. However, often a simple reading of the Rule leaves modern readers dis-satisfied; it is a rule in many ways of and for a different world, just as the biblical texts can be so characterised. However, it is also, like the Bible, a text that speaks to us today, and has application and inspiration for modern followers.
Benedict's Rule for life includes worship, work, study, prayer, and relaxation. Benedict's Rule requires community -- even for those who become hermits or solitaries, there is a link to the community through worship and through the Rule. No one is alone. This is an important part of the relationship of God to the world, so it is an integral part of the Rule.
Benedict's Rule was set out first in a world that was torn with warfare, economic and political upheaval, and a generally harsh physical environment. This Rule was set out to bring order to a general chaos in which people lived. This is still true today, and men and women all over the world use Benedict's 'little rule for beginners' as a basic structure for their lives.
The first word of the rule is Listen. This is perhaps the best advice for anyone looking for any guidance or rule of life. While Benedict's Rule is decidedly Christocentric and hierarchical (though not as hierarchical as much popular ideas about monastic practice would have one think), it nonetheless can give value to any reader who is looking to construct a practice for oneself.
Benedict's establishment of a monastery was in fact the establishment of a school for spirituality. In his prologue to the Rule, Benedict even states this as his intention.
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As a Benedictine of 41 years, this is the first commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict which I have read (and I have ready MANY) that has made the Gospel lifestyle contemporary and relevant. Chittister has taken the experiences of a lifetime and correlated them with the Rule. Not an easy task, but she has achieved it remarkably well. This book is at once homey and scholarly. Common sense pervades this easy to read guide. It is the only commentary which I have read more than twice. It is the only commentary which seems to have captured the essence of St. Benedict's Rule and subsequently, the Gospels.
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Joan Chittister brings a refreshing and relevant perspective to an ancient rule for Christian living. This interpretation which is grounded in common sense, delights the reader with humor and yet makes accessible a lifestyle which has guided holy men and women for centuries. Her scholarship embraces quotes from other religious traditions, thus emphasizing the fundamental unity of humanity in its search for holiness; yet she neither becomes esoteric nor pedantic. She is adept in contrasting the Gospel mindset with modern social issues. Indeed, her knack for connecting the ordinary aspects of daily living to the process of the spiritual journey has created a spiritual guide which is both readable and do-able. She has divided the Rule into readings for each day of the year, allowing the reader to reflect upon the wisdom and insights which have made the Rule of St. Benedict an enduring benchmark for Christian living for almost 1500 years. There are many interpretations of Benedict's Rule available; but this author's ability to convey her lived experience in following the Rule and the compassion contained within it is rare gift. Extremely well done!
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While the sub-title of this great volume is "Insights for the Ages," it is certainly brilliant material for our time here in the early 21st century. St. Benedict's Rule was originally written in the Sixth Century (A.D.). Furthermore, it is the most widely used life-guide in modern western monasticism. Joan Chittister takes Benedict, word-for-word-intact, and brings him into our contemporary situations. She illustrates the universal and fundamental insights of Benedict and how they are highly compatible with Hindu, Sufi, Toaist, Zen, Jewish and other major thought/values traditions.
An added benefit is Chittister's editorial technique of dividing Benedict's Rule and her associated commentaries into specific dates on the annual calendar. This enables the serious reader/reflector to read over each mini section of the rule and this associated, wonderful commentary on three different dates each year.
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St. Benedict wrote his rule based upon the spirit of the Gospels and Joan Chittister has captured the true spirit of both. Jesus asked the crowds to examine their motivations and actions and the author continues that skein of query using the Rule of Benedict as a springboard. This is the best spiritual work I have ever read outside of the Bible; it is clear, insightful, and yes, even makes the reader confront the inner self which is what every good spiritual writing should do. Simply wonderful.
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Chittister's "The Rule of Benedict" was one of the main commentaries on "The Rule" I referred to in writing the recently published book, THE FAMILY CLOISTER: BENEDICTINE WISDOM FOR THE HOME, by David Robinson (New York, NY: Crossroad, April 2000). Joan Chittister builds a sturdy bridge between 6th century Italian monastic life and my daily life as a husband, father and 21st century Christian, unveiling the wisdom of Benedict for our home and family.
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