Benedict’s Way: An Ancient Monk’s Insights for a Balanced Life
Lonni Collins Pratt and Father Daniel Homan, OSB
I didn’t want to hurry through this book that has lived unopened on my shelf for years. I decided to read one chapter a day and live with this book. And I’m glad I did. This is a book I’ll return to my “to read” pile. It deserves to be read again. I know I need to read it many more times before all the lessons sink in and become part of my life.
After introductions on retreat, St. Benedict, and the concept of a rule, this book has 30 chapters each highlighting a theme from the rule that is still very relevant today. Each chapter began with a quote from Benedict’s Rule. Next the authors selected quotes from other, often more modern voices that inspire further reflection. One of the authors does his or her reflection on the theme before asking us to go inward which is where all that has been said is applied to life today with suggestions for how we might live out the rule. Each chapter closes with a prayer.
This book is almost deceptively easy to read and understand. The challenge comes in living out what you are reading. I recommend this book as a great introduction to Benedict’s Rule. I recommend this book to anyone looking for an opportunity to strengthen one’s faith. I would recommend this book as a great Lenten book. (I know there are 40 days in Lent and only 30 chapters in this book. You could go back for the last 10 days and reread your favorite chapters or, if you are like me, having an extra 10 days to complete the book means you might get it done on time!). I highly recommend this book!
“A rule, in the sense used by St. Benedict, means a plan for living with others in a certain way…Despite personal differences, inclinations, and preferences, a rule determines how individuals will respond and behave and live together” (9).
“Regardless of what is happening, the monk shows up for prayer day after day, all the days of his life. There is nothing supernatural inside the monk that enables him to do so. He just puts his feet into his shoes and walks to the chapel. How he feels about it is not relevant. When it is time to pray, you pray. Period. You don’t have words? Don’t know how to address God? Not a problem. The psalms are full of words that we make ours when we pray them. This kind of prayer anchors us” (23).
“We do very ordinary things, and God breathes life into the act. God breathes life into us” (47).
I found the idea of Reasonable Balance (#13) inspiring. How can I live this? How can I help others live this way?
As one who is currently struggling to persevere, I took great comfort in #19 Perseverance. “Most often, perseverance simply means outlasting whatever is getting in the way” (157).