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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

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"Every soul that uplifts itself uplifts the world." --Elisabeth Leseur

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Benedictine Books

Today is the feast of St. Benedict, so I thought I’d mention a few of my favorite Benedictine books. First, a few books about the Rule of St. Benedict:
  • The Rule of St. Benedict – Though it was written to guide behavior at monasteries, anyone who is in a leadership position can also benefit from the wisdom it contains. Try reading it as if it were addressed to parents, or supervisors.

  • Reading St. Benedict: Reflections on the Rule by Adalbert de Vogue – This is probably the definitive commentary on the Rule, and is a great help for those wishing to study it and meditate on it.

  • A Share in the Kingdom: A Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict for Oblates by Benet Tvedten, O.S.B. – Oblates are traditionally laypersons who are formally connected with a particular Benedictine abbey or monastery. Tvedten’s book helps a layperson apply the wisdom of the rule to contemporary life.
Perhaps the most common Benedictine practice today is the form of meditative prayer known as Lectio Divina or Sacred Reading. As the Catechism puts it, “Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value…” (CCC 2708). These two books describe the essentials of lectio divina:
The Benedictine practice that has affected me most is the praying of the Divine Office, or Liturgy of the Hours. It is at the same time humbling and uplifting to pray several times a day with the rest of the universal Church, and I wish I could be more faithful to it. Here are some Divine Office resources:
  • Chapter 17 of The Words We Pray by Amy Welborn – Probably the most beautiful and concise explanation of the power and majesty of the Divine Office. (By the way, the rest of the book is just as excellent.)

  • The School of Prayer by John Brook – This book is for me the definitive guide to the Liturgy of the Hours. Not only does Brook explain the history and rationale behind the Divine Office, he also provides a how-to for praying it, along with an extensive commentary on each of the psalms used in Morning and Evening Prayer.

  • An invaluable tool for learning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours or for praying them when you’re on the go is the Praystation Portable podcast by the SQPN network.

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posted by Nick Senger at 11:07 AM

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