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Prayer and Community: The Benedictine Tradition (Traditions of Christian Spirituality) [Paperback]

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Item Number 118988  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   136
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.48" Width: 5.33" Height: 0.38"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 17, 2001
Publisher   Orbis Books
ISBN  1570752192  
EAN  9781570752193  


Availability  0 units.


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Item Description...
Overview
(PUBOrbis)Stewart, a monk at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, unravels the Benedictine approach to prayer, spiritual reading, obedience, community life, work, discipline, and time, showing how its rituals can give meaning to Christians outside the monastery. Well-grounded in the historical period. 136 pages, softcover.

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More About Columba Stewart

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Columba Stewart is a Benedictine monk of Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and Associate Professor of Theology at Saint John's University.


Columba Stewart has an academic affiliation as follows - St John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota.

Columba Stewart has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Oxford Studies in Historical Theology


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Reviews - What do our customers think?
excellent introductory material to Benedictine traditions  Jul 2, 2007
Columba Stewart did a fine job at distilling the essences
of the Benedictine Tradition. The Rule of Benedict has
survived for over 15 Centuries and is noted for it's
simplicity. Traditions of Obedience, Humility, and Community
that have much to offer our busy new millenium
lifestyles.
 
Excellent overview of 1500 years of lived experience  Dec 25, 2003
Columba Stewart isn't just another author of a book on Benedictine spirituality. He is a monk of St. John's Abbey in Minnesota, holder of a D. Phil. from Oxford, a teacher in the Theology department at St. John's University, and one of the world's best scholars on John Cassian. Given his background, this book easily could have been very scholarly, very dry, and very academic. So it is a real pleasure to say that his overview of Benedictine spirituality fills a gap in the growing list of books in this area. As with other authors such as Esther de Waal and Joan Chittister, Stewart's intent is to provide an overview of this important stream in Christian spirituality and it's applicability/relevance to modern day concerns. However, Stewart takes a different perspective in his approach, using as a dual focus both the text of the Rule of Benedict and the lived experience of monastic communities during the ensuing centuries. As a result, this book conveys to the reader a much better sense of how Benedictine communities have struggled with how to live by the spirit of the Rule of Benedict even as the world around those communities has changed in ways unimaginable to Saint Benedict.

If you are looking for an overview of how to incorporate Benedictine spirituality into your daily life, this book is probably not the best place to start. For that, I would highly recommend books by Esther de Waal and Joan Chittister. I have read several books by these two authors and they have been extremely valuable in my own attempts to live out my faith. But what I gained from reading Stewart's book was a much better sense of how the major themes in the Rule of Benedict have been lived out over the centuries and how the understanding of those themes has in some ways changed and in other ways remained the same during that time period. As an oblate since 1998 of a Benedictine monastery in California, I found Stewart's perspective very helpful in further enriching my own understanding of the Benedictine tradition. I've also found this book very, very helpful as the starting point for a presentation to a men's group in my parish on Benedictine spirituality.

Another reviewer of this book criticizes it for it's "deviation from Church teachings". I should state at this point that I don't share the same perspective as this reviewer, in part because I am Episcopalian. For those who share the other reviewer's concerns about faithfulness to the teachings of the Roman Catholic church from what I sense is a traditionalist perspective, this book may not be the best choice. For those individuals, Roman Catholic and non-Roman Catholic, who are sincerely interested in further exploring the Benedictine tradition and it's connection and power for life today, Stewart's book is one that I would highly recommend that people read.
 
Look elsewhere  Nov 29, 2003
Stewart's book was one of the first introductions to monasticism that I had when I became interested in the religious life about two or three years ago (and I am currently a Benedictine scholastic at St. Joseph Abbey in St. Benedict, Louisiana). I found Stewart's book to be quite helpful, balanced, interesting, and informative, covering all the major aspects of Benedictine life (and it is truly an impressive feat, for life often varies greatly from monastery to monastery!).

Recently, however, I was in St. Joseph Abbey's gift shop, where I was looking for a good introduction to Benedictine life and spirituality for my mother, who at the time knew nothing about the purpose of monasticism, of giving up one's earthly life and will for the glory of God. On the shelf, I saw this book, and, remembering the good experience I had had with it before, I decided to buy it for her. But as I was flipping through the pages to refresh my memory as to what was in the book, I saw something to the extent of, "Women Benedictine communities, however, still must rely on male priests to conduct Mass for them, a painful reminder of the exclusion of women from the priesthood."

Needless to say, I was a bit taken aback by the statement, not having remembered anything of the sort the first time I read through the book. Unfortunately, this and other statements show the Benedictine author's deviation from Church teachings, even on such a definitive matter such as the inability of the Church to ordain women. And it is absolutely and in every way unacceptable. For this reason, I give the book one star, when I would otherwise have gladly given 3, 4, or even 5 for its exposition of such a complex and, in certain aspects, confusing subject.

The first time I visited the monastery as a vocations guest, I was given a small booklet called "The Benedictines" by Dom David Knowles (with an intro by Marion Bowman, OSB). You may read four of the six chapters here: http://www.osb.org/gen/knowles/ . If you can, try to find the full version of the booklet (originally published by Sheed & Ward), as it is faithful to the Church, written with a true Benedictine spirit, and, most importantly, faithful to the teachings of the Church. God bless all.

 

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