Sunday, January 18, 2009

Three Basic Reference Books. A Benedictine oblate blog

One of three basic reference books on the Rule

[Click picture to enlarge]

In my two years as an oblate, I have bought several books about the Rule and Benedictine practices. The Oblate Spring web site gives my recommendation for the first book you might consider reading about Benedictine oblates, as you start to explore.

But after my introduction into being an oblate, I also wanted to do more in-depth reading about the Rule of St. Benedict. Three books became my basic reference books when I have a question about the Rule. You know, books with lots of footnotes and scholarly references.

My three basic reference books on the Rule of St. Benedict are:

1. RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict Timothy Fry, O.S.B., Editor, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1981 (627 Pages).
A number of Benedictine scholars produced a new English translation to honor the 1500th anniversary of the birth of St. Benedict and included “scholarly helps that could lead to a deepened understanding of what Benedict taught.”

2. “Perspectives on the Rule of Saint Benedict,” Expanding Our Hearts in Christ, by Aquinata Böckmann, O.S.B. Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 2005 (250 Pages).
“Aquinata Böckmann, OSB, PhD, is a member of the Benedictine Missionary Sisters of Tutzing, Germany. She has taught in Rome since 1973 at the Pontifical Institute for Spirituality and Moral Theology Regina Mundi and as the first woman professor at Sant’ Anselmo. She was the formation director of her congregation’s novitiate in Rome and a board member of the Alliance for International Monasticism.”

3. "Benedict’s Rule" by Terrence Kardong, O.S.B., Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1996 (641 Pages).
Terrence Kardong, OSB, is a monk of Assumption Abbey in Richardton, North Dakota. He is editor of American Benedictine Review and author of Benedict’s Rule and Day by Day with Saint Benedict, both published by Liturgical Press.

With the start of the new calendar year, I started reading the Rule from the beginning (many versions of the Rule are divided into daily readings so you read through the Rule three times in a year and you start with St. Benedict’s famous Prologue on January 1, May 2, and September 1).

So, on January 1, I began with the word that St. Benedict used to begin his Rule — “Listen.” The first sentence of the Rule’s prologue is:

“Listen carefully, my child,
to your master's precepts,
and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20).”

Because I have been stuck in “Silence” since at least the beginning of Advent, the word “Listen” had a strong pull on my Benedictine spirit.

I wanted to do more in-depth study on “Listen” and I began reading in the three reference books listed above. These authors are carrying on the long Benedictine traditions of rich scholarship and bringing Benedictine monastic truth to a wider world — to more people who know this is a time to listen.


  1. I can attest to RB 1980; it's definitely one of the best treatments of the Rule in English. Thanks for the other references.

  2. Thank you for those references. Have you read Seeking God? by Esther de Waal. That was required reading for me. What would be the best "commentary" on the Rule, do you think?
    I too am inspired by that first word: Listen. It has been there in my heart for weeks now. God bless!