Seeking God: The Way of St Benedict: The Way of St.Benedict
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As we get older, at least for some of us, dying is a very pleasant thought because we trust that we shall be with God finally and without the sometimes bitter struggles of this life. One of the most ancient methods of the spiritual life is that of watching the thoughts and struggling with them. Today not many persons practice this form of spirituality. Saint Benedict suggests it to us and perhaps we need to accept the challenge to at least try this form of spirituality some time in our life.
It is so simple. Watch your thoughts. Take all the thoughts that are not in Christ and throw them on Christ. We will spend a lot of time at the beginning throwing thoughts on Christ, but eventually there can be a deep peace and tranquillity. We are much more comfortable today accepting all of our thoughts and acting as if they were from God.
Our tradition asks us instead to place our thoughts in the light of Christ and throw out all those that do not reflect his love and his light. Another important and tried way of the spiritual life is to listen to holy reading and allow our lives to be formed by that holy reading. In this reading God often calls us to pray. We must be prudent in what we read, and we must be committed to reading Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, the early monastic writers and the writers approved by the Church.
We can read other theologies and other ways of thinking that will lead us out of the Church and out of monastic life. We are invited to use real wisdom in choosing what we shall read. When Benedict asks us to obey the orders of the abbot unreservedly, he also gives a method of spirituality. There is a deep and sure form of growth in truly accepting the obedience that we profess in our vows.
We can spend a lot of our life trying to make our own decisions and doing things our own way. There is peace and tranquillity when we finally hand ourselves over. It does not take away the pain of living nor the struggle of making mature decisions, but it is done in an entirely different manner than before we accepted obedience. Benedict obviously recognizes that we can have bad superiors, but this does not make him shy away from asking for obedience. Harbor neither hatred nor jealousy of anyone and do nothing out of envy.
This advice is again quite strong.
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We all have our bouts of anger, hatred, jealousy and envy. We are invited to accept them and not act from them. The same with quarreling and with arrogance. How strong we shall become when we begin to take these tasks of the spiritual craft seriously. When we are young we do not like them so well, but normally, even in Monasteries, we are less interested in spiritual growth when we are young.
We must recognize that these tools are given to us as challenges to incorporate in our lives. It can never be said enough in formation and throughout our lives: if we are unhappy or angry or resentful, then we must recognize that all of those feelings and attitudes come from us. We must battle them. When we have achieved some peace and tranquillity, then we are finally approaching a point in our life when we can make more adult decisions.
Esther De Waal
You already know many of the ways to search for God. You have looked for God and found him in the scriptures. You have looked for God and found Him in your Christian faith, in the sacraments of the Church, in the communities you are part of, in service to others, and in your love for other. You have looked for God and found Him in your vocation as a monk, as a priest, as a married person, as a single person, or as a seminarian.
Benedict searched for God just like you and me. And so we celebrate his feast because he helped so many others find God in ways that built on those tried and true methods found in scripture, the sacraments, and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
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Through holy obedience, we overcome self-will and are able to follow the will of the Father who loves us. Benedict , our abbot, and our community. In our daily lives, we live out obedience by following the Church, the will of God, our families, and our responsibilities. Living a life of obedience leads to a true authentic freedom that can be found nowhere else.
Here, St. A monk finds God in each and all of his brother monks, especially the ones who are not so easy to live with. The applicability of these three values are challenging, but it does change how one approaches life.
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I, certainly, know that it has influenced my teaching and the way that I approach family life. It is helpful to be moderately familiar with the Rule of Benedict, but not necessarily crucial.
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De Waal quotes liberally from the Rule, so it is almost like reading it. Definitely a must-read, especially for those interested in applying one's spirituality to everyday life. Jul 24, Jim Gallen rated it it was amazing.
Benedict and its application to the lives of lay people often comparing and contrasting with that of monks. Its 10 chapters focus on the life of St. Benedict, the invitation to make God the center of our lives, the value of listening, stability, the role of change in our lives, the maintenance of balance, the place of material things, our interaction with other people, submission to authority and prayer. Each chapter concludes with related thoughts and prayers. This book is neither dense nor superficial. It draws the reader in to examine his own life, attitudes and practices.
Its persistent theme is to make God the center and motivation of everything we do. It opened the idea of stability as not just adherence to a place, but to a code of values and Person. I was impressed with the argument that our spiritual and worldly senses should be woven into each other, not isolated into separate phases of our lives. I was surprised to find the Benedictine theme of finding God in all things and situations, an outlook I had associated with Ignatian spirituality.
I found this book to help direct my thoughts on my daily relationship with God. I anticipate that it will deepen my next reading of the Rule. I recommend as a valuable aid it for all God Seekers. Nov 01, Evan Hays rated it it was amazing Shelves: theology , devotional. I love Esther deWaal's work. I want to read everything she has written because she does such a good job of getting to the heart of ancient Christian thinking and practice and making it accessible to our world today. She has a love for the theology, history, and every day life of the people she describes.
I read this one while I was reading the Rule of St. Benedict, and it very much helped inform my reading. It is a nice short work that breaks the Rule down into important themes. Her r I love Esther deWaal's work. Her references to other related primary and secondary words are very helpful, and her prayers at the end of each chapter make this really a devotional read. I highly recommend this work and anything else deWaal has done. Jul 11, Ed Wojniak rated it really liked it Shelves: spirituality.
A very good book for those who are looking for a concise, organized presentation of the essential elements of the Rule of St. Honestly, it made the Rule seem more attractive to me than my read of the Rule itself. So, through this reading the Rule becomes an appeal to listening, stability, an appreciation of change and balance, a better understanding of the presence of God in material things, people and authority, while enlivening for me the sometimes stale act of prayer.
Mar 14, Cindy Z rated it really liked it Shelves: infor My favorite quote from this book So the scriptures are mouthed with the lips, understood by the intelligence, fixed by the memory, and finally the will comes into play and what has been read is also put into practice. The act of reading makes the reader become a different person; reading cannot be separated from living. May 01, Michelle rated it it was amazing Shelves: manna-for-my-soul , love-it. De Waal's interpretation of the Rule yields accessibility not adaptability.
She doesn't pander and she doesn't summarize, she merely measuredly expounds: The key to understanding and applying St. Benedict's rule is found within the rule itself. She doesn't offer a quick fix; she adheres to St. Benedict's vision that there is no short cut to the rule and for that I love this book. Jun 21, Adam Shaeffer rated it it was amazing. I loved this little book. I could gush for pages and in fact I already have for a class assignment , but I won't.
Suffice to say that this brief book was truly moving and reminded me that if I can't find God right here and right now, I won't find Him anywhere.