The Book Corner
This section gives a small selection of good books about the Rule of Benedict. For an extensive and categorized list, see “Suggested Reading” at the back of St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living.
Translations of the Rule
Fry, Timothy, OSB, ed. Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1982. (small paperback)
The classic translation of the Rule. The language is contemporary and can be readily understood.
McQuiston, John II. Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing, 2011.
A wonderful contemporary paraphrase of the Rule organized by topic. A good book to have for reflection and meditation.
Marriet-Crosby, Anthony, OSB, ed. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2003.
This book includes a translation of the Rule and chapters about the Rule written by noted Benedictine authors. There is a simple Daily Office for Morning and evening Prayer, a glossary of Benedictine words, and thumbnail sketches of noted Benedictine nuns and monks in history.
Edited and adapted by Sister Marilyn Schauble, O.S.B. and Sister Barbara Wojack, O.S.B. Erie, PA: Benedictine Sisters of Erie, 1989.
This book presents the Rule in inclusive language. It substitutes male only references for those that are gender-neutral or include both women and men.
Books About the Rule and Its Application
in Daily Life
Heart Whispers: Benedictine Wisdom for Today
Canham, Elizabeth J. Nashville, TN: Upper Room Publications, 1999.
An accessible interpretation of the Rule organized by topic with Prayers and reflection questions. A leader’s guide is available for group work. Still one of Jane’s favorite books to introduce Benedictine Spirituality.
Chittister, Joan, OSB. The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2010.New York: Crossroad, 1997.
A reissue of Insights for the Ages. Sr. Joan offers many insights as she unpacks the meaning of the Rule for her readers. The Rule is divided into daily readings with Sr. Joan’s reflections on each. A great book!
de Waal, Esther. Harrisburg: Morehouse, 1997.
This excellent book focuses on the contradictions that this noted author sees in both Christianity and in the spirituality of the Rule of Benedict. She addresses the Rule in light of the relationships we have to God, self, others and the world.
She discusses the contradictions between prayer and the need for service in community, stressing how each is needed. At the end of each chapter she gives some wonderful reflection questions. This is the first book on the Rule that I read.
Homan, Fr. Daniel, OSB, and Lonni Collins Pratt. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2001.
Presents brief chapters explaining various key points in the Rule. Topics include the vows, listening, prayer, humility, balance, conflict, community, joy, and leadership. Each chapter includes suggestions for reflection and application.
St. Benedict's Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living - 10th Anniversary Edition
Tomaine, Jane. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 2005.
Jane wrote this book to share her love of The Rule of St. Benedict and its wisdom for everyday living. Each chapter unpacks the topic, offers “tools” for daily application, and closes with a reflection of story. For more information, click here
Casey, Michael, OSB. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2014.
Intended to be read slowly over time, this book is a fruit of more than fifty years of monastic living. Casey weaves in Scripture, his own experience, and writings from Ancient monastics, theologians and contemporary authors. A readable and valuable book for the understanding and application of Benedict’s tools of the spiritual craft.
Chittister, Joan, OSB. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991.
A beautifully written, thought-provoking book. Sr Joan brings the Rule and Benedictine spirituality into everyday life. Each chapter covers a key concept in the Rule.
de Waal, Esther. The Liturgical Press, 2001.
A classic on the Rule of Benedict, originally published in 1982 when Dr. de Waal lived in the Canterbury Cathedral precinct. The book covers listening, stability, change, balance, material things, people, authority and prayer.
Dr. de Waal offers thorough information and explanations in a beautifully written, reflective writing style. Republished in 2001, the book contains a Preface by Kathleen Norris.
Taylor, Brian C. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1989.
An excellent book that gives good overviews of stability, conversion of life, and obedience along with a practical applications of the Rule. The author discusses the important areas of prayer, work and study. He then addresses relationship to God, to others and to things. Meditation or discussion questions are included.
Tomaine, Jane. Nashville, TN: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2017.
An annotated reading of the Rule organized by subject such as the Divine Office, Humility, Moderation and Balance, Hospitality and Community. To learn more about this book, click here.
The Rule with Daily Commentary
Sutera, Judith, OSB. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2021.
This gender-neutral translation is true to the original text as written for St. Benedict’s monks. Sutera’s translation offers an alternative for individuals and groups who prefer such a version over the masculine language of the original
The book also incudes some background into the context in which the Rule was written. Sutera also provides reflections on its meaning for contemporary life, making it a resource for those encountering the Rule for the first time or for those who have cherished it for years.
Experiencing the Rule
The following selected books have been written by individuals who are monastics or are oblates of a Benedictine monastery. These books present a personal contemporary application of the Rule of Benedict in daily life told through story.
Fitzpatrick, Mother Gail, OSCO. Chicago, IL: ACTA Publications, 2000.
Mother Gail offers fifty beautiful and inspiring reflections for the spiritual journey organized into the four season of the year and the liturgical year. This book is out of print. Do an internet search for used copies.
Holtz, Albert, OSB. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2014.
Using vignettes set in or near his monastery in downtown Newark, New Jersey, Benedictine monk Albert Holtz helps us to see that the Easter mystery, which can often seem abstract and distant, is in fact present all around us. Fr. Holtz offers a story, Scripture and a reflection for each day in the Easter season.
Holtz, Albert, OSB. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2014.
Fr. Holtz recounts his European pilgrimage that leads us into our own pilgrimage. Each chapter includes a suggested reflection, Holy Scripture and quotes from the Rule.
Norris, Kathleen. New York: Riverhead Books, 1987.
The story of Norris’s discovery and immersion into the Benedictine world which captured the heart and mind of this Protestant woman.
The Rule as a Guide to Wholeness
These books offer ways to meet life’s challenges using the Rule of St. Benedict as a guide.
Earle, Mary C. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2004.
In 1995 Mary C. Earle was hospitalized with acute pancreatitis. Using St. Benedict’s ancient Rule – his ways of ordering the life and days of religious communities – Mary explores how the Benedictine vows of stability, obedience, and conversion of life can help anyone live with illness.
Earle, Mary C. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publshing, 2003.
Written from her own personal struggle with deblitating illness, Mary Earle presents simple yet profound models of prayer based on the ancient Benedictine wisdom of lectio divina. She offers practical guidance to those suffering from serious, chronic, and terminal illness. Structured exercises help the reader embody the practices. This book is also valuable for anyone ministering to the sick.
Chittister, Joan, OSB. New York: Convergent Books, 2021.
Sister Joan’s book carries the wisdom of the monastic spiritual traditions into the twenty-first century. She offers ways to live the ordinary life extraordinarily well, helping the reader grow in wisdom and in depth of spirituality. Each day a chapter could be read and the contemporary application practiced.