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The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century [Paperback]

Joan Chittister
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2010 Spiritual Legacy Series
This new edition of a classic religious text combines the timeless wisdom of Benedict of Nursia's Rule with the perceptive commentary of a renowned Benedictine mystic and scholar. In her new introduction to the Rule, the author boldly claims that Benedict's sixth-century text is the only one of great traditions that directly touches the contemporary issues facing the human community—stewardship, conversion, communication, reflection, contemplation, humility, and equality. Tracing Benedict's original Rule paragraph by paragraph, it expands its principles into the larger context of spiritual living in a secular world and makes the seemingly archaic instructions relevant for a contemporary audience. A new foreword, updated content, an appendix, and a recommended calendar for reading the entries and commentaries make this an invaluable resource for solitary or communal contemplation.

Frequently Bought Together

The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century + The Monastery of the Heart: An Invitation to a Meaningful Life + Wisdom Distilled From the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today
Price For All Three: CDN$ 47.88

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Product Description


"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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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A way of life Feb. 8 2006
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages March 18 2000
By A Customer
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insights For Us Sept. 24 2002
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom for our Home July 17 2000
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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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century
Purchased this book for a course I am going to take. Haven't really looked at it yet. From what I've seen, it looks very interesting.
Published 13 months ago by Ann Barry
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes the Rule accessible to beginners
I am relatively new to Benedictine spirituality, and have found this commentary to be extremely helpful in thinking about how the Rule applies to my life as a person in a secular... Read more
Published on June 16 2001 by marared
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rule of Benedict-Insights for the Ages
I have read several books on the Rule and I think that this one and "Wisdom Distilled from the Daily" by Joan Chittister are some of the most clearly written ones I have... Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars The quintessential spiritual guide.
Absolutely the best spiritual guide I have ever come across. Read slowly, it is jam-packed with common sense!
Published on July 6 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars a good idea, a bad edition
Unfortunately, the author's distortion of St. Benedict's text through using inclusive language and the highly subjective interpretations of his rule from a feminist political... Read more
Published on May 12 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Socially-conscious exposition of Benedict's Rule
Chittister brings her fresh and politically aware gaze to bear on the document
that underlies all her previous work: Benedict's "Rule," by which she has lived... Read more
Published on May 13 1996
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