Life with St Benedict: The Rule reimagined for everyday living

Life with St Benedict: The Rule reimagined for everyday living

Author : Richard Frost
£9.99

An antidote to today's busy lifestyle

To discover the Rule of St Benedict is to encounter something that is at once inspiring, supporting, reassuring, challenging. Let this book be an introduction to the writing of a man who will change your life.
Esther de Waal, author of Seeking God: The way of St Benedict


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Title Life with St Benedict: The Rule reimagined for everyday living
Author Richard Frost
Description

To discover the Rule of St Benedict is to encounter something that is at once inspiring, supporting, reassuring, challenging. Let this book be an introduction to the writing of a man who will change your life.
Esther de Waal, author of Seeking God: The way of St Benedict

The Rule of St Benedict has much to say about faith, work and daily living. In a time when many are seeking space, silence and spiritual depth, the Rule retains relevance in a world where change is often feared, stability can be elusive and busyness interferes with listening to God. Life with St Benedict provides daily reflections on the Rule as an aid to enabling personal spiritual growth and prayer.

Benedictine communities use a well-established pattern of daily readings to enable the entire Rule to be considered over a four-month period. Life with St Benedict follows this pattern. Each four-month-long period begins on 1 January, 2 May and 1 September and each entry shows three dates on which it can be read. There are 122 readings and reflections in each period.

Details
  • Product code: 9780857468130
  • Published: 20 September 2019
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • Dimensions: 120mm wide and 198mm high

To discover the Rule of St Benedict is to encounter something that is at once inspiring, supporting, reassuring, challenging. Let this book be an introduction to the writing of a man who will change your life.
Esther de Waal, author of Seeking God: The way of St Benedict

The Rule of St Benedict has much to say about faith, work and daily living. In a time when many are seeking space, silence and spiritual depth, the Rule retains relevance in a world where change is often feared, stability can be elusive and busyness interferes with listening to God. Life with St Benedict provides daily reflections on the Rule as an aid to enabling personal spiritual growth and prayer.

Benedictine communities use a well-established pattern of daily readings to enable the entire Rule to be considered over a four-month period. Life with St Benedict follows this pattern. Each four-month-long period begins on 1 January, 2 May and 1 September and each entry shows three dates on which it can be read. There are 122 readings and reflections in each period.

Richard Frost is a Reader in the Church of England and an Oblate of the Anglican Benedictine Community at Alton Abbey in Hampshire. Formerly an Employment Specialist helping people with mental health conditions, he writes a blog at workrestpray.com.

To read Richard's lockdown blog click here.

Oremus (Westminster Cathedral Magazine) December 2020. Review by Donato Tallo

As a Benedictine Oblate, spiritual reading is extremely important to me and so I recently purchased a copy of Richard Frost’s recent book on St Benedict’s Rule. As an addition to my daily prayer, the book is extremely helpful and a real tool to aid silence, reflection and stillness in a challenging, busy and often stressful world.

The Rule has much to teach us all today and while it is not particularly long, reflection on the text is essential to gain real insight and appreciation of its spiritual content. That there are many wide and varied commentaries on the Rule exemplifies just how much it has to teach us, for throughout the centuries many Christian people, both monastic and non-monastic, people of varying faiths and indeed people of no faith, have all gained inspiration from St Benedict.

Richard Frost has prepared this book for anyone, whether monastic, oblate or neither, who wants to immerse themselves in spiritual reflection on the Rule and link it to everyday living. Benedictine communities generally have a structured manner for reading – often by hearing – the Rule and this is quite often undertaken at mealtimes. When read over a four-month period, this means that in its entirety it is read communally three times each year.

In this book, for each day of the year there is a section of the Rule and a short reflection afterwards It is a simple yet powerful way for the Rule to be read and then for the text to be pondered on. The beauty of these short reflections is that they are linked to everyday life and situations and can really help the reader to consider how the meaning and context of the Rule can be applied in our own day. The pointers given for prayer are helpful and are a real treasure in aiding our turning to the Lord. For those who would seek some new inspiration on the journey of life in a simple yet powerful manner, this book will do just that. Whether the reader is new to St Benedict or not, this book can help us become closer to Christ through the Rule in a practical and accessible manner.

Review by Donato Tallo

 

Transforming Ministry, April 2020. Review by Marie Paterson

This is a handbook for those who would like to incorporate the discipline of the Rule of St Benedict into their lives. These teachings are divided into ‘everyday reflections’ with each one beginning with Benedict’s instructions for those living in monastic communities, followed by a reflection for ‘ordinary, everyday Christians’. Emphasising the importance of the reading and recitation of the psalms for the Benedictines, each day ends with a psalm to read, followed by a suggestion for reflection and prayer. Readers may find some of Benedict’s instructions to those living in community rather harsh; for instance, those making mistakes in a psalm ‘must make satisfaction there before all’, and likewise if arriving late for meals or prayers. The author does not always address these issues but rather modifies them to suit modern life. Nevertheless there is much to learn here about how we should live a balanced and disciplined Christian life, which is exemplified with the helpful checklist of the five areas of life in which we can find that balance.

Reviewed by Marie Paterson 

Preach, Spring 2020. Review by Alan Rashleigh

The author is a Reader in the Church of England and an oblate (a lay or ordained person formally associated to a particular monastic community) connected to the Anglican Benedictine Community. Therefore he is well-placed to share the practical application of St Benedict’s Rule of Life with people who are not members of a monastic community.

Life with St Benedict introduces us to the writings of a man who was inspirational 1500 years ago and who continues to invoke changes in lives today.

The Rule of Life is a personal rule that can be tailored to Christians, whatever their circumstances, who witness to the Gospel through their relationships with those with whom they live and work.

The rules may include praying daily, attending church, almsgiving, as well as making provision for study, recreation, and family. The vows of St Benedict of stability, conversatio morum (fidelity to the monastic life) and obedience to the heads of the community relate specifically to life in a Benedictine community.

The book provides daily study in the form of 73 short chapters that look at aspects such as ‘The tools for good works’ (Ch 4) and ‘Restraint of speech’ (Ch 6). The study is repeated on a four-monthly cycle as ‘reinforcement of the Rules for the lives of the student’. It includes study and reflections and the Psalms and (very) short prayers. The pertinent questions in the reflections could provide a useful basis for Bible study, meditation or contemplation.

Language and culture have certainly changed over 1500 years. The reader (and UK legislation) may not necessarily agree with corporal punishment or enforced fasting for the misdeeds of children (Ch 30)!

Life with St Benedict uses a translation of more inclusive language and is written with ordinary Christians in mind to assist in our faith, work and daily living. It retains a relevance where change is often feared, stability is elusive, and the hectic  nature of our lives interferes with listening to God.

There are many similar books, but this one is well written and makes the Rule of St Benedict accessible to all, regardless of the stage of your journey of faith.

(As a bonus, this book explains some of the actions of Father Cadfael played by Derek Jacobi in the TV series).

Reviewed by Alan Rashleigh

Church Times 25.10.19. Review by John-Francis Friendship

Benedict’s Rule, written in the sixth century and called by Arnold Toynbee the ‘mustard seed from which the great tree of Western civilisation has sprung’, had an enormous impact on the development of the Church of England and continues to be a source of inspired wisdom for people in our own times.

In this book, Richard Frost, a Reader, retreat-giver, and (Anglican) Benedictine Oblate of Alton Abbey, provides short, simple reflections on each of its 73 chapters, which, he says, provide a ‘whole-life balance’. The Rule is formulated so that a portion is read daily over a four-month period, repeated three times during the year, and the version that he uses is an inclusive-language translation by the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. Each reflection is followed by a suggested psalm and ejaculatory prayer.

 

The Rule is an extended commentary on how Benedict’s monks are to live in this ‘school for God’s service’ (Prologue) in which they are to ‘prefer nothing whatever to Christ’. Its observance ‘can show that we have some degree of virtue and the beginnings of monastic life . . . which will lead . . . to the very heights of perfection’. The author compares it to a ‘toolbox’ from which we chose the tool, taking up one and then another, practising our skills with them, and not worrying if we make mistakes, provided we confess our faults: ‘It is love that impels them to pursue everlasting life.’

His thoughtful reflections on each chapter, concluding with a suggested framework to develop a personal Rule of Life, will help anyone who wants help on the journey of faith. Although there are a couple of spelling mistakes and a somewhat contentious reference to James as being the ‘son’ of Mary and Joseph, Frost’s style is direct and simple, inviting his readers to consider how Benedict’s words address their condition.

Reviewed by the Revd John-Francis Friendship, a senior team member at the London Centre for Spiritual Direction. He is the author of Enfolded in Christ (Canterbury Press, 2018).

 

 

UK Benedictine Oblates Team, October 2019. Review by Neil Zoladkiewicz

Richard Frost is a Reader in the Church of England and an oblate of the Benedictine community at Alton Abbey in Hampshire. His recent book provides reflections on the daily readings from the Holy Rule and is prefaced by an excellent short introduction to Benedictine Spirituality and a useful glossary.  

The subtitle to this volume is ‘The Rule re-imagined for everyday living’ and that is exactly what the author has achieved in his reflections on each daily reading from the Holy Rule, which explore relationships, the workplace, our own church and our attitudes and actions towards others in a modern context. The reflections also include searching questions for the reader to think about and there is also a short prayer at the end of each section.

He also provides an opportunity for the reader to work through the 150 psalms in order over the four months of reading the Holy Rule.

Overall this is an excellent introduction to the Holy Rule and the author bridges the gap between a 1,500 years old spiritual document and modern lives. It helps the reader to get into the habit of trying to apply St Benedict’s teaching to their own life, that process of daily reflection which is so essential to our progress on the Benedictine way.  It is therefore an ideal volume for the novice oblate and all who are beginning the Oblate life.  I certainly wish Richard Frost’s book was available when I took my own first steps towards becoming an oblate. It is also an ideal volume for the busy oblate of whatever experience! 

Reviewed by Neil Zoladkiewicz of Ealing Abbey 

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