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Posted June 14, 2011

Book: Lessons from Saint Benedict: Finding joy in daily life
Author: Donald S. Raila
Sacred Winds Press. Augusta, MO. 2011. pp. 183

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Part of a collection written over twenty years, Lessons from Saint Benedict contains 26 letters written by Father Donald Raila, O.S.B., a Benedictine monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey. Using the 1500 year old Rule of Benedict and Benedictine spirituality as his foundation, Father Donald offers words of spiritual encouragement and guidance for persevering through the journey of daily life. With the Gospel and Rule of Benedict as guides, Raila says, we can learn to see God’s graces in every dimension of our lives even the most seemingly mundane. Father Donald provides both serious and light-hearted examples from his own life to demonstrate how we can renew and strengthen our spirituality through the daily grind, and perhaps even find joy in the process.

An Excerpt from the Book:

In his book St. Benedict and St. Therese, Dwight Longenecker has some valuable insights into stability. Referring to the gyrovagues, he writes:

Benedict paints a vivid portrait of the bored soul. He is a spiritual channel-hopper, always looking for the next stimulus, the next religious entertainment, the next spiritual thrill. Benedict would not reserve his condemnation for discontented monks. Church shopping is one of the spiritual diseases of our age. . .Benedict sees a spiritual disease underneath this physical restlessness. The disease is discontent, and it is caused by disobedience. We are born with the instinct to be our own masters; we imagine all authority to be authoritarian and do everything to avoid its claims over us. . .Our capacity for self-deception is so great that it is very possible to imagine we are searching for God when, in fact, we are fleeing from him with all our energy. We need to settle down and center down. The vow of stability is the discipline that ensures we are pilgrims and not fugitives. Benedict says, ‘Commit your self. Make a vow of stability and find reality, even if reality is grim.

Table of Contents:

1. The rule
2. Seeking the truth that sets us free
3. Running late or running to God
4. Contents fragile and wounded
5. Roadblocks in life
6. Dryness in prayer
7. Stability
8. Bringing others joy, not sadness
9. Detachment
10. Quietly encouraging one another
11. The challenge to reverence
12. Casting out fear
13. Saint Benedict & the cross
14. Aspiring to ‘Loftier summits’
15. Conducting ourselves with patience
16. Accepting loss of control
17. Losing everything
18. The glory of God
19. The slow, ongoing death-to-self
20. Stability versus restlessness
21. The call to hospitality
22. Silence, poverty of spirit, & weakness
23. Changing from evil ways of the past
24. Obedience without delay
25. Striving for simplicity in speech
26. Preparing for a holy death