Review: Seventy-Four Tools for Good Living: Reflections on the Fourth Chapter of Benedict’s Rule

Seventy-Four Tools for Good Living: Reflections on the Fourth Chapter of Benedict’s RuleSeventy-Four Tools for Good Living: Reflections on the Fourth Chapter of Benedict’s Rule by Michael Casey Ocso
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed, and was profoundly challenged, by this commentary on the fourth chapter of the Rule of St Benedict by the Australian Cistercian Michael Casey.

Although the fourth chapter on which he comments might be seen as simply a long list of virtuous acts that the monastic should embrace as part of living the monastic life, Casey’s commentary delves beyond the surface ‘black letter’ reading to give colour and nuance to these actions, setting them in both a community and individual context, and broadening the requirements for attempting to fulfill what is required of the monastic (or those who embrace the Rule of St Benedict in other contexts).

For anyone who values the spirituality of the Rule of St Benedict, this book will become a valuable resource in attempting to understand, and thus live, the significance of the fourth chapter which otherwise might just be a long list of things that are impossible to live up to.

Very highly recommended!

From the back cover:

There is more in Benedict’s Rule than meets the eye. Based on the rules of life of John Cassian and Saint Basil, Benedict invites us to go further back to the scriptural basis of all Christian and monastic living and pursue our spiritual journey by the guidance of the Gospel.

This book of reflections on the tools for good living is intended to be read very slowly, one section as a time. In addition to communicating reflections on each verse of chapter 4, Casey invites readers to:
– continue the process of reflection for themselves
– apply what is written to their own lives
– draw on their own wisdom and insight
– and, ultimately, broaden their experience of monastic spirituality.

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Article by Andrew Doohan

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