Free Best Saint Benedict For The LaityAuthor Eric Dean –

For Some Thirty Years Eric Dean, As A Layman, Husband, Parent, Presbyterian Minister, Lafollette Professor Of Humanities At Wabash College, And As An Ecumenical Oblate Of A Benedictine Abbey Has Reflected On And Put Into Practice The Rule Of St Benedict In Saint Benedict For The Laity He Comments On How The Rule Has Important Things To Say Even To Those Of Us Who Because We Are Already Committed To Lives In The Secular Sphere Can Never Think Of A Monastic Vocation The Rule Can Speak To Us Of Values Which, Even Apart From The Daily Structures Of Monastic Life, Are Relevant To Our Own Lives In The Outside World

7 thoughts on “Saint Benedict For The Laity

  1. Kurt Messick Kurt Messick says:

    Eric Dean, a professor, Presbyterian minister, and ecumenical oblate of Benedict for several decades, has put together an interesting and useful guide for following the Rule of St Benedict, a guide for persons not formally trained in spiritual disciplines or theology, but rather those who seek personal fulfillment and structure to their spiritual quest The Rule of Benedict is best served in connection with a community, but there are parts that are useful for instruction and inspiration in private practice, too.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 In drawing up its regulations, he intends to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome He sets forth in this brief rule a guide to individual life within community that will bring one ever closer to the divine.Benedict explores the issues of charity, personality, integrity, and spirituality in all of his rules From the clothing to the prayer cycle to the reception of guests, all have a purpose that fits into a larger whole, and all have positive charges and negative warnings Benedict is especially mindful of the sin of pride, be it pride of possession, pride of person, pride of place he strives for equality in the community as a recognition that all are equal before God.Dean s book is not a handbook on Benedictine spirituality per se, but rather an introduction to those parts of the Benedictine practice that can be useful and adapted to life outside the monastery Dean is himself an oblate member of a Benedictine order oblates are those who live outside the monastic community, but have ties to the community materially and spiritually, and adapt the Rule of Benedict to fit a secular life, with due reverence and concern for God.Dean recounts personal experiences in his own growth toward oblature, as well as lessons learned from key aspects of the Rule The Rule is restructured according to different, modern topics While it is not absolutely required, it is helpful to have a copy of the actual Rule of Benedict available in any number of translations to accompany this text.This is a book of only 100 pages, but it can take a long time to read if one does so properly Dean s book should be read slowly and intently, letting the spirit form this is reading for formation, not information.

  2. Glasgow Reader Glasgow Reader says:

    The author of this brief book is a Prebyterian ministar who is an Oblate of a Benedictine abbey In this short but informative introduction, he reflects on the fact that we can learn much even today from St Benedicts Rule, and illustrates that using some of the key messages from the Rule, particularly those concerning humility, obediance, service, discipline and committment It isn t a detailed commentary on the Rule, nor is it a how to to be a Monk book Instead it attempts, in a gentle and thoughtful way, to show how we could benefit from adapting and adopting the values of the rule in our normal, everyday lives Its a short, straightforward book but one that packs a lot into its pages.

  3. Edward J. Barton Edward J. Barton says:

    A good commentary on the Rule, emphasizing the role of the laity and the implementation of the principles of the Rule in daily modern life Written by a non Catholic, the book provides an ecumenical perspective to the Rule as well A good read.

  4. R. N, Wightman , MSJ R. N, Wightman , MSJ says:

    Helpful but also requires one to have a copy of the Rule of Benedict at hand Although it can be read without reading the relevant chapters of the RB first, the author assumes that one has.

  5. Adrienne Norris Adrienne Norris says:

    The final chapter tied in everything Strong points throughout, but a little disjointed I look forward to reading Eric Dean s next book.

  6. Francis Jacobson Francis Jacobson says:

    St Benedict for the Laity was written by a Presbyterian minister and educator Consequently, he does not write as a Catholic might which could contain Catholic terms unfamiliar with the laity Professor Dean breaks this book up into short and clear chapters that could have somewhat negative connotations in today s culture where religion often equates with health and wealth.Take for example the word humility Humility is something we try to avoid or we can have false motives trying to out humble someone Professor Dean begins this chapter saying that no word rankles us so much as obedience because obedience seems to conjure up being giving up our dignity and our autonomy A culture based on looking out for Numero Uno sees obedience and humility as character defects to discard rather than strengths to cultivate Yet consider how much discord our society has because we have failed to discipline ourselves and become humble and obedient We cannot even have civil discussions around critical topics any Instead, if social media and talk radio is any indication, civil discussion has been replaced with insulting and demonizing the other side How can we possibly have a democratic society with that sort of atmosphere Now let s expand that to two other chapters which are Tools for the Community and Abbot and Father In today s world where a CEO might make 400 times the income of a production worker, no one would think of a manager as a Father or even the intimate Abba In fact, fraternizing with your staff, enlisted men in the military , tenants in the case of a property manager is discouraged because it would cost the manager s authority Yet when many of us wondered how Japanese companies seemed to outdo everyone in quality we learned that managers were like abbots than lords Lordship, which worked in the feudal society, had no place in the monastery In addition, monks were not seem as chattel labor the way most businesses have tended to view workers Management books seem to talk about how to, as Professor Dean puts it, manipulate people to obtaining what you want rather than cultivate yourself and those you work with for the good of the community, or the company if we are talking about managers.So, in short, this book is far than just a discourse on understanding the father of Western Monasticism Instead, it is a book on a new way of organizing, prioritizing and how to live in today s world Everything in here is valuable as a way of reorienting ourselves toward a much healthier lifestyle and overall outlook Silent prayer, discipline, humility, commitment, lifelong learning and a detached view of material possessions are all things that we have forgotten about in our society Consequently, we have become a dysfunctional society with atrocious levels of homicide and suicide, the second highest incarceration rate per capita, one of the highest rates of wealth and income inequality This book is a must read for parents, business executives, students and anyone interested in a much higher level of living.

  7. Alex S Alex S says:

    I actually purchased this book in 1999 when I went on a silent retreat with a prayer group at a Benedictine monastery As I observed and participated in the daily office, I couldn t help but wonder what application I could find in my ordinary life when I returned to work Wow did things jump out at me My first underlined passages involved a conversation of domination, and the difference of domination by power rather than authority We resent those who use powe to try to control us, but it is easy to aquiesse to authority When we can trust our leaders, we do not resent listening to them God s power over us is based on the incredible Holiness of God The authority of the Abbot in a monastery comes from the fact that the Abbot is chosen by his peers based on their trust in him.The word Pope comes from Papa, and the word Abbot comes from Abba, the same meaning Imagine holding a position with that in mind, that incredible responsibility that comes with being a parent.A second area that I wrestled with as I read this was obedience and humility, not exactly attributes we value as adults today And yet, the book shares how these attributes can actually be freeing.But perhaps the most intriguing section for me was on praying the office The author shares that through the constancy of prayer, we begin to understand the meaning of prayer The times we pray through the Psalms, the we are able to focus on the words and meanings The best analogy I can use is that of dancing The better you know the moves, the you can enjoy it.There are many other gems inside of this treasure box, so much so that I have reread my book till it is falling apart Definitely a keeper.