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Prayer and Community: The Benedictine Tradition (Traditions of Christian Spirituality) Paperback – September 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: Traditions of Christian Spirituality
  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books; First Edition edition (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570752192
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570752193
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #693,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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11%
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See all 9 customer reviews
One of my favorites.
thomas mulligan
I have thoroughly enjoyed the background information provided as well as the perspective.
goodnitesaigon
Columba Stewart did a fine job at distilling the essences of the Benedictine Tradition.
M. Danaher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Matthew A. Fisher on December 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jakob K. Rinderknecht on July 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Benedictines are an order whose spiritual center is vibrant and alive, but often not easy for outsiders to see, because of the many ways in which traditionally autonomous houses of monks and sisters have lived (and continue to live, the monastic life. This led to the famous comment (supposedly made by Leo XIII) that they were an "Ordo sine ordine" (an Order without order).

Fr. Columba's little book on the Benedictine Tradition gives an outsider a view of the Benedictine center of gravity that makes clear how the whole holds together; the reason that despite their many differences, a Benedictine house is instantly recognizable.

His focus on the history of Christian Monasticism (see also his important work of monastic history: _Cassian the Monk_) grounds this book in six chapters, which attend to the history, development, and contemporary variation of Benedictine life.

This book is an excellent introduction to the Western Christian monastic project, and has much that is applicable to the lives of those who do not live in community under a monastic superior. I have used this book as a text both as the text for an introduction for those interested in the monastic life, and also with college students in an introduction to theology class to show how Benedict and the tradition he helped form add to the Church's life and it's interpretation of scripture (particularly Lectio Divina).

There are many books which give introductions to the spiritual or religious life. This is one I would certainly recommend, whether to the interested lay person, someone considering religious life, or as a text in an undergraduate course on Christian spirituality.
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By Andrew Dahlburg on November 30, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Prayer and Community" (1998) by Columba Stewart is another title in the Traditions of Christian Spirituality series. The volume covers the Benedictine tradition, the largest tradition by far in Christian monastic orders, and perhaps the most important in the overall series.

This is a beautifully written book which tells the important story of one of the greatest laypersons in the history of the Christian Church, Benedict and his Rule.

Benedict and his Rule transformed monasticism from a solitary and often wandering tradition into a communal brotherhood highlighted by a permanent location and a daily rule of work and prayer. Benedict basically put on end to the Celtic "rule" which in his eyes was too loose and unorganized-sorry Celts but you know this is true! Put another way, Benedict replaced the Celtic notion of wandering with the importance of stability. In Benedict's opinion, the spiritual life could only flourish within structure or as we might say today, within a system. And what a "system" Benedict produced! All Benedictine houses required that each monk agree to lifelong poverty, chastity, total obedience to the abbot and the Rule and a commitment to remain within the order for life. And for Benedictines, the recipe of success was also the unique blend of prayer and work centered around the liturgy of the hours, the lectio divina, personal prayer and silence. And add to that formula, sprawling monasteries, farms, and industries such as wineries, cheese making and a host of other monastic industries. This was a heck of an accomplishment!

As I have indicated in some of my other reviews in this series, the best way to learn about the Benedictines is to visit a Benedictine monastery first hand.
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