A Life-Giving Way is a guide to life and prayer written for lay people by a lay person. Crafted with the same attention to scholarship that is evident in the other titles in the collection, Esther de Waal has written an accessible commentary offering an excellent introduction to the Rule of St. Benedict. De Waal is able to draw on her study of the Benedictine tradition and its influence on Anglicanism and to share a wisdom perspective born of her own experience living in Canterbury and introducing ecumenical groups around the world to Benedictine practice.
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“These are the daily questions that Benedict presents me: Am I being changed by the power of the Gospel? Am I being changed by the presence of God in my life?” (Page 0)
“It takes me away from the danger of talking about God and not communing with him.” (Page 3)
“So the three moments of this process are first the listening and responding, obedience (for that is what the word means, obaudiens, to listen intently), the metanoia, or turning (which is what conversatio morum involves, continual conversion journeying on), and then the stability (from the Latin stare, to stand), being in the place of firm ground.” (Page 5)
“Listen!’ I could take that as a summary of the whole of Benedict’s teaching. I could spend the rest of my life pondering on the implications of that one word.” (Page 3)
“The purpose of the monastic life is to shape life according to the Scriptures” (Page 0)
She invites the reader to enter into her own reflection, which concentrates always on the universal issues and the perspectives of the word of God which underlie and are woven into the text. . . . Anyone who reads in the spirit in which it is written will be brought closer to the gospel message.
—Patrick Barry, OSB, abbot, Ampleforth Abbey
Authoritatively yet sensitively, the author explores this sixth-century Rule, in which Benedict invites us to ‘come home to ourselves,’ accepting and blending body, mind, and spirit in daily service to God.
The author’s limpid prose is a joy to read. She draws out of the Rule each of the crucial elements in Benedict’s teaching: the use of Scripture in the practice of the lectio divina is set out in its four stages and the three vows are also elucidated and their implications outlined.
—Stephen Platten, Norwich Cathedral, England
Esther de Waal is a popular spiritual writer for Anglican, Orthodox, and Catholic audiences. She often speaks at retreats and has written extensively on the application of monastic spirituality in lay life.