Monday, February 16, 2009

The Benedictine Handbook. A Benedictine oblate blog

"The Benedictine Handbook" on right "Benedictine Daily Prayer" on left

[Click picture to enlarge]

An online friend recently asked about Benedictine prayer books and his question serves as a good opportunity to comment on “The Benedictine Handbook.” $25.00.

Although I recommend two other books if you have no prior knowledge of Benedictine oblates, I recommend "The Benedictine Handbook" if you are drawn to becoming an oblate and want a first book to begin a simple divine office in your home and you want to learn about the Benedictine way and its history and place in the world.


“The Benedictine Handbook” has the Rule of St. Benedict (it’s not in the translation I use, but it’s a fine translation). I like Doyle’s translation of the Rule in this beautiful publication of the Rule.

The divine office in “The Benedictine Handbook” is a simple version spanning two weeks for morning and evening offices and there are separate and very simple daytime and compline prayers. There is no vigils.

The Benedictine Handbook is packed with essential Benedictine information as you would expect in a 350-page book bearing the title “handbook.”

Of the features everyone who does not own this book will enjoy is “A Benedictine Who’s Who.” This chapter contains half page biographies of the great Benedictines throughout history — very handy.


If you want a first Benedictine prayer book giving an excellent introduction to the fullness of Benedictine life (the very best in my opinion), AND you want to start the divine office in a simple form, this is the book for you.

Then if you enjoy the structure and forms of the divine office, you will have become familiar with the very excellent overview provided by “The Benedictine Handbook” and you will have spent only $25.

When you want more Benedictine divine office, you still will be glad that you have “The Benedictine Handbook” in your library and you will not feel that you wasted your money.


After you have used “The Benedictine Handbook” for several months you will be able to make up your own mind on whether you want to spend $50 for the "Benedictine Daily Prayer" or $85 for the classic "Monastic Diurnal," or some other book.


  1. This sounds like an excellent book, though I'll probably stick with the Book of Common Prayer office (which is derived from the RB courtesy of Archbishop Cranmer).

  2. Hi, Joe, thanks for the comment. I do not use the divine office from this book either.

    When I was just starting out this book gave a good overview of all things Benedictine. I like to refer to its other information for background and basic information on the Benedictine life.

  3. How interesting! I was just contemplating purchasing this book. I wasn't too thrilled with the translation of the Holy Rule, so I opted for the Doyle translation instead. The copy I received from the Monastery is literally held together by a rubber band. :P

  4. Oh aye; excellent recommendations, those.

  5. Another good book is The Glenstal Book of Prayer, which has a simple weekly office of morning, evening and night prayer and some benedictine stuff.

  6. Kim,

    I hope you get The Benedictine Handbook and also hope you enjoy it. And, I am extra pleased to hear of another person who likes the Doyle translation of the Rule. When I was an oblate novice I reviewed as many translations of the Rule as I could find. Doyle’s simple grace is what I imagined the Rule should sound like!

    Plain Catholic,

    You approval means a lot, you are the pro in these matters!

    The Cellarer,

    Yes, that is a good book for a simple divine office and prayers and it’s a beautiful book, like a gift book. It’s smaller size makes it easy to carry around too. Thank you, that’s a good recommendation.

    The book at Amazon