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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Day by day
`Daily life is the stuff of which high sanctity can be made.'
Near the beginning of Joan Chittister's wonderful treatment of the Rule of St. Benedict, she makes this statement, something that is agreed upon by most who are serious about the spiritual life. The old phrase 'little things mean a lot' is very true with regard to spirituality. After all, it is not the big...
Published on 1 July 2005 by Kurt Messick

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3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, bad on Kindle
I love this book. I have found it to be a very insightful look at Benedictine spirituality. It is perhaps one of my favourite books.

But it is seriously let down, in the Kindle edition at least, by the need for a copy editor. Too often I would end up looking at a completely incomprehensible sentence wondering what on earth the author was trying to convey, and I...
Published 7 months ago by Rose


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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Day by day, 1 July 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St Benedict Today (Paperback)
`Daily life is the stuff of which high sanctity can be made.'
Near the beginning of Joan Chittister's wonderful treatment of the Rule of St. Benedict, she makes this statement, something that is agreed upon by most who are serious about the spiritual life. The old phrase 'little things mean a lot' is very true with regard to spirituality. After all, it is not the big crises that cause the most problems in life -- in fact, it is often a crisis that brings people together and deepens spiritual feeling and commitment. It is in the day-to-day struggle to maintain sanity and security that the spirit can be ignore most easily, unless paying attention to spiritual things is made intentional.
This is part of what Benedict was driving at so many centuries ago. Beyond the specific rules for his community, which are variously applicable and irrelevant toward living in today's world, is the overarching idea that some kind of rule, some kind of daily intentionality, some sort of deliberate pattern that puts us in community with each other and with the divine is very necessary for today's people.
`After years of monastic life I have discovered that unlike spiritual fads, which come and go with the teachers or cultures that spawned them, the Rule of Benedict looks at the world through interior eyes and lasts. Here, regardless of who we are or what we are, life and purpose meet.'
Spirituality of this sort is far more than ritual action. It is far more than churchiness or how often one does any particular thing, including prayer. This spirituality calls upon the individual to incorporate a way of life on top of daily life, a defining context of life that puts all things, prayer, church, family, work, play, study, sleep, indeed all parts of life, in connection and community with God.
There are interior practices and exterior reflections of these practices. Listening is described as the key virtue toward spiritual growth. Listening has to be more than a passive hearing of what is being said, but an active incorporation into life.
Prayer is a central practice, but care must be taken that this not become routine in the sense of being done mindlessly, by rote, but an active listening for the will of God should always be part of this. Also connected to prayer is the practice of lectio, a reading that inspires and feeds the soul, a reading that is different from academic study or informational and entertaining reading.
Chittister highlights many monastic practices and shows ways in which these can be incorporated into daily life for anyone. Monastic mindfulness -- the blending of the day together in harmony and balance -- can be a principle applied as easily outside the monastery as within the cloister. Certainly the ideas of obedience (to the will of God, if nothing else), stability (which means more than living in the same place), hospitality, humility, and community all are applicable beyond the monastery walls, and in many ways antithetical to prevailing Western cultural ideas. These have the potential of feeding the soul and enriching the lives of those who practice even without the support of a monastic community. Many have been surprised that their conversion of life, to use Benedictine language, can lead to subtle, and often not-so-subtle, changes in those around them.
The seeker asked, 'How does one seek union with God?'
The Wise One said, 'The harder you seek, the more distance you create between God and you.'
'So what does one do about the distance?' the seeker asked.
The elder replied simply, 'Just understand that it isn't there.'
The Rule of Benedict is not a mystical text. It is not a spiritual catalogue or occult-ic manual. It was intended, and continues to serve, as a simple guide to help make people more conscious of their already present relationship with God. It is realistic, and makes no promises of spiritual gifts accruing to those who follow it. Yet the riches that do become present can be very great to those open to receiving them. And in receiving these gifts, they become a gift themselves to the world.
Perhaps this is the meaning of the strange biblical dictum (which often seems unfair upon straight reading)
For to those who have, more will be given,
and they will have an abundance;
but from those who have nothing,
even what they have will be taken away.
- Matthew 13:12
This is a book that definitely fills a need for those seeking a more wholistic way of life.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benedict Rules!, 31 Dec. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St Benedict Today (Paperback)
Joan Chittister has written a most beguiling and yet practical reflection on the ancient Rule of Benedict. This charming book, though nearly ten years old, is as fresh as the day it was written. "Wisdom Distilled from the Daily" is a timely and welcome guide for all who seek moments of grace and personal spiritual growth in and from their daily lives. Each of the fifteen short chapters is prefaced by a direct citation from the 1500 year old Rule of St. Benedict. Each begins with a description of some physical characteristic of the Mount St. Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania, home of her religious community, to whom Chittister dedicates the book. The author uses each of these concrete realities from in daily life in her monastery as a root metaphor which she breaks open in flowing, nearly-musical prose to reveal the timeless wisdom of Benedict on such topics as Listening, Prayer, Work, Humility, and (my personal favorite) "Holy Leisure". But this is not a book about monasticism. St. Benedict was a layman. While his Rule has been adopted and used by monastic brothers and sisters of various religious orders since the sixth century, it was meant to be a spiritual guide for all -- particularly lay persons. More importantly, its purpose is to help us build our spirituality from the bricks and mortar of the lived experiences of our daily lives. The author reminds us that we can find sanctity in the world around us: "If we are not spiritual where we are and as we are, we are not spiritual at all". This book is a gem! It is an easy read. If you think highly enough of someone to want them to read it also, buy them a copy. Don't lend them yours. This one is a "keeper" you will want to refer to frequently. In "Wisdom Distilled from the Daily", Joan Chittister has remade the timeless sixth century Rule of St. Bendict into a much-needed Rule of Living for the twenty-first century.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly recommended if you want a spiritual refresher, 16 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St Benedict Today (Paperback)
I spent some time this year seeking out a spiritual reader for Lent, and this was my choice. I had never heard of the author before and read little about the Rule of St Benedict. It was an excellent read and a fantastic accompaniment to Lent.
I am now reading it for the second time using my kindle fire some months later; feeling once again that I need to touch base with what direction I am going in. This time I am reading it more slowly, making highlights and copying some bits of it out. I found the sections related to lectio and prayer the most helpful to help me review the purpose of a prayer life in an otherwise busy life. I find it incredibly helpful to avoid my own tendencies to think of the spiritual life as the 'other worldly' aspect of my life. The author, indeed the rule, speaks loudly to this habit of mine and the book has helped me to start to re think my christian life, to make it more rooted in the daily stuff of life - because that is where God is to be found. Read it yourself.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is truly our every day life-at its best moments!, 12 Dec. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St Benedict Today (Paperback)
As a member of Sr. Joan's community, readers often ask, "Is that really true? Is she really describing, accurately, life in your community?" Well, yes, I have to say, she really is. Life at its best, of course! I hope that our over 700 yearly visitors could verify that when they leave us after their usual weekend or week long stay. Perhaps Joan's greatest gift is being able to find the beauty, the inspirational, the grace in every day events, places, etc...even in a Benedictine monastery..or ESPECIALLY in a Benedictine monastery. Equally challenging is to take a 1500 year old spiritual document and try to make sense of it at this time in history, in this culture, for us. Joan does a wonderful job, but after all she was a Benedictine prioress for 12 years, so she should know the life and be able to interpret it. And she does.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, bad on Kindle, 8 Sept. 2014
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I love this book. I have found it to be a very insightful look at Benedictine spirituality. It is perhaps one of my favourite books.

But it is seriously let down, in the Kindle edition at least, by the need for a copy editor. Too often I would end up looking at a completely incomprehensible sentence wondering what on earth the author was trying to convey, and I do not believe that is any fault of hers.

Buy this book, it is absolutely wonderful. But don't buy it for Kindle.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The heart of the Christian message for struggling souls, 28 Jun. 2014
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I recommend this book for its practical wisdom and insight. I love it for its truly egalitarian message, which offers a spiritual path that requires the routine interactions of daily life experienced by us all. St Benedict incorporated a flexibility and humanity into his rule that enables Christians from all walks of life to follow his guidance.

I found this book very satisfying and challenging on many levels. Not just a book for Christians, but for anyone looking to make sense of modern life.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Charming, 2 Dec. 2012
By 
William Cohen (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St Benedict Today (Paperback)
There's lots of good stuff in this book, but it is a little dated now. The fact that time has past means there are one or two bits which sound a bit sanctimonious, but overall it is uplifting and helpful. Very much in the style of Harold Kushner or Karen Armstrong.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So warm and human, 6 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St Benedict Today (Paperback)
What a delight I have found this book . A modern take on what can be quite an austere lifestyle . So insightful and deep reflection on our life choices.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An immensely readable book!, 2 Jun. 2006
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Mr. Peter J. Regelous "peterkingsinger" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St Benedict Today (Paperback)
Sister Joan has written an enthralling book around the Rule of St Benedict. Very few people would disagree with her assessment of the world in which we now live and with what she thinks needs to be done to counteract the influences that threaten to bring further destabilizing forces to society. I am, however, curious as to why she included the following in Chapter 14 - Peace: Sign of the Disarmed Heart.

"We can expect the enemy to see the face of God where there is no violent response". She continues: "And to support this mystery there is a growing body of data".

Unfortunately, Sister Joan gives no detail of the data to which she is referring in order to substantiate what she is asserting as fact. I have to say as well that I really don't believe the enemy is automatically bound to see the face of God where there is no violent response as Sister Joan says! In any case,her very persuasive arguments don't depend on the inclusion of this material.

Don't let my minor criticisms put anyone off reading this really wonderful book. Although clearly written with an American audience in mind, most western societies are similar to each other and the ills which she elequently describes are, I think, common to us all.

A truly inspired work and one that has made me question what I think!
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14 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for women's study groups!, 13 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St Benedict Today (Paperback)
My chapter of the Daughters of the King did this book as a 6-month study. Highly recommended! Easy to read!
Have your highlighter ready to mark all the words of wisdom!
Some great quotes that I refer back to every now and then:
"The cross says that we can rise if we can only endure."
"We pray so that when the incense disappears, we can still see the world as holy."
"In community, we work out our connectedness to God, to one another, and to ourselves.... In the security of each other, we can afford to stumble."
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Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St Benedict Today
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St Benedict Today by Sister Joan Chittister (Paperback - 16 May 1991)
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