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Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  484 ratings  ·  48 reviews

For over fifteen hundred years St. Benedict's Rule has been a source of guidance, support, inspiration, challenge, comfort and discomfort for men and women. It has helped both those living under monastic vows and those living outside the cloister in all the mess and muddle of ordinary, busy lives in the world. Esther de Waal's Seeking God serves as an
Paperback, 168 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by Liturgical Press (first published February 16th 1984)
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Cindy Rollins
Practical and spiritual, this book is a wonderful introduction to incorporating some of St. Benedict's practices into our ordinary lives. Completely uplifting without a smidgen of legalism or guilt. Wonderful. This was my first book by Esther de Waal but not my last.

(Thanks, Joy)
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this off and on over the course of nearly a year. There were many thoughtful ideas and passages about living a Christian life intentionally. I thought the structure was intriguing - after the first two, introductory chapters, it was almost chiasm - listening and prayer, stability and authority, change and people, and balance and material things all work together.

I really loved the chapters stability-change-balance and the progression between them. I contemplated that knowing, not knowing,
Aug 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf-spiritual
As I write this, I am about 2/3 of the way through -- I read a few pages as part of my "quiet time" in the mornings. This was one of the books our Rector recommended during the Lenten study, and a friend urged me to read it too. It is a companion to St. Benedicts Rule which I found on the Internet. Since St. Benedict was writing directly for his fellow monks, our rector suggested that as we read The Rule, to think of the monastery as the church and the monks as Christians. In that way, The Rule ...more
Diane Bruce
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the books that I love!
Harry Allagree
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read this refreshing summary of the essence of Benedict's Rule sometime in the late 1980's, it was even more rewarding to come back and reread it again. It also reminded me of a serendipitous visit I had with Esther de Waal in February 1991, not long after I'd read it. We spent part of a sunny afternoon sitting & conversing on the lawn in back of the Guesthouse at the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, CA. She was in the process of writing "A Seven Day Journey with Thomas Merton", a sort ...more
Tim Chesterton
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant little book distilling the wisdom of the Rule of St. Benedict and unpacking it for the benefit of ordinary Christians who don't live in monasteries. Each chapter takes a different theme ('Listening', 'Stability', 'Material Things', 'Prayer' etc.), exploring what the Rule and the Benedictine tradition have to say, and making connections with non-monastic life.

I read this book through once very quickly, and now plan to read it again much more slowly, thinking and praying over the
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is easy to read and beautifully and thoughtfully written. I found it to be an excellent guide, whether at first read/basic level or at second read and much deeper levels, to understanding some of the depth of the Benedictine Rule. Recommended for anyone interested in the Rule, or anyone interested in deepening faith, no matter what religious background. Obviously, it's written from a Christian perspective. However, the author discusses the Rule somewhat in terms of universal truths, ...more
Barbara von der Osten
This small book shows that the wisdom of St. Benedict is for everyone, even in modern times. She includes chapters entitled Listening, Stability, Change, Balance, Material Things, People, Authority and Praying. At the end of each chapter she provides Thoughts and Prayers to contemplate. Definitely a book to reread several times.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
I could say so much about this deeply moving and profound book. I hope this quote sums it up - "The goal of my changing life is not self-fulfillment, even though so much of the personal growth movement popular today seems to suggest that that is so. St Benedict is quite ruthless about the sort of self-fulfillment which is self-seeking. My goal is Christ."
Nick Ertz
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the few books that I will buy for you if you read it. In this small book, there is so much wisdom, so much understanding. It takes a while to absorb everything. The Rule of Benedict is a remarkable work in its own right, this volume makes it clear how groundbreaking it was. Yet there is enough wisdom here 1500 years later that it works for modern man as well. Read this book.
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful. Practical. Inspiring. This is a book which ought to be read and re-read. There is so much wisdom packed into these 150 pages which will stand the test of time and be a source of inspiration and growth for those who choose to seek it.
Matt Carpenter
I was pleased with this short book. The author takes elements of The Rule of St. Benedict and applies them to everyday Christian life. Some of her applications were especially direct and can be directed to family life, church life, and the outside work place.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-at-library
A good guide to using the wisdom of St. Benedict in a non-monastic way of life. The author describes St. Benedict's advice as "a handbook on the practice of loving."
John Vanderslice
A contemporary spiritual classic. An eminently readable and practical guide to Benedictine spirituality. I found it very illuminating.
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-in-2018
Not the easiest read, but it offers a great perspective on St Benedict's Rule and how it can apply to those of us who aren't monks.
Mike Fedewa
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great companion to read while walking the camino.
Henrietta (H
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contemporary guide to the rule of Benedict. Provocative, encouraging.
Beautiful musings on different aspects of the Rule of St. Benedict. Recommended for anyone with an interest, especially after reading Kathleen Norris or Joan Chittister.
A companion and therefore, a keeper.
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having recently begun to work at a Benedictine institution, I began reading Esther de Waal's book in hopes of finding a more approachable means of studying Benedictine life than a simple reading of the Rule, which can be rather dry. She is a layperson, an Anglican who has chosen to live the Rule. Her perspective, that of an intelligent woman, wife and mother, illuminates the Rule of Benedict and makes parallels to lay living in a way that a simple reading of the Rule does not.

An example would
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my perennial re-reads, but I'm reviewing it anyway. If I had done that meme from a month or two ago that asked for the ten books which have stayed with me, this would be on the list. It is the the book which first exposed me to Benedictine spirituality which has become quite an important aspect of my spiritual life. The irony, of course, is that I've never gone on retreat to a Benedictine community, but I find so much to apply to my daily life that it doesn't seem to matter which ...more
Jim Gallen
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seeking God is author Esther de Walls reflections on the Rule of St. Benedict and its application to the lives of lay people often comparing and contrasting with that of monks. Its 10 chapters focus on the life of St. Benedict, the invitation to make God the center of our lives, the value of listening, stability, the role of change in our lives, the maintenance of balance, the place of material things, our interaction with other people, submission to authority and prayer. Each chapter concludes ...more
Evan Hays
Nov 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, devotional
I love Esther deWaal's work. I want to read everything she has written because she does such a good job of getting to the heart of ancient Christian thinking and practice and making it accessible to our world today. She has a love for the theology, history, and every day life of the people she describes.

I read this one while I was reading the Rule of St. Benedict, and it very much helped inform my reading. It is a nice short work that breaks the Rule down into important themes. Her references to
Ed Wojniak
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
A very good book for those who are looking for a concise, organized presentation of the essential elements of the Rule of St. Benedict. Honestly, it made the Rule seem more attractive to me than my read of the Rule itself. So, through this reading the Rule becomes an appeal to listening, stability, an appreciation of change and balance, a better understanding of the presence of God in material things, people and authority, while enlivening for me the sometimes stale act of prayer.
Cindy Z
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite quote from this book...
So the scriptures are mouthed with the lips, understood by the intelligence, fixed by the memory, and finally the will comes into play and what has been read is also put into practice. The act of reading makes the reader become a different person; reading cannot be separated from living. (page 148)
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
De Waal's interpretation of the Rule yields accessibility not adaptability. She doesn't pander and she doesn't summarize, she merely measuredly expounds: The key to understanding and applying St. Benedict's rule is found within the rule itself. She doesn't offer a quick fix; she adheres to St. Benedict's vision that there is no short cut to the rule and for that I love this book.
Adam Shaeffer
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this little book.I could gush for pages (and in fact I already have for a class assignment), but I won't. Suffice to say that this brief book was truly moving and reminded me that if I can't find God right here and right now, I won't find Him anywhere.

May my heart strings vibrate their "YES!" to the making one.
Andrew Marr
Esther de Waal pioneered what has become a significant movement in spirituality: to apply the Rule of Benedict for non-monastics. The beautiful meditative style of Esther's writing is conducive to this purpose as is the author's wisdom. Writing as a Benedictine monk myself, I commend de Waal's insight into the Rule.
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book to meditate over; with themes like Stability, Change, Balance; a very good contextualization/comment on St. Benedicts Rules. I only wish there were more practical examples, but even then, its very good. ...more
Oct 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shelley by: Jeremy Jones
Absolutely fascinating! If you do pick up this book (if, in fact, anyone reads this review) the chapters on Stability and People are the best and must be read. In my case, they were read and re-read.
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91 likes · 16 comments
“Stability says there must be no evasion; instead attend to the real, to the real necessity however uncomfortable that might be. Stability brings us from a feeling of alienation, perhaps from the escape into fantasy and daydreaming, into the state of reality. It will not allow us to evade the inner truth of whatever it is that we have to do, however dreary and boring and apparently unfruitful that may seem. It involves the particular demands of whatever this task and this moment in time is asking; no more and no less.” 4 likes
“My difficulty is that on the whole I am not very good at change, I cling to the safe and the known... I must live in this moment, not looking either forward or back, or to right or left, but realizing that unless I am what I am there cannot be any growth. If I promise myself that life will be better, that I shall be a more agreeable person, that I shall be closer to God on the next stage along the way, then I am failing to live as I am called to live because I go on dreaming of that ideal which does not exist. The past has brought me to this moment and if I begin today anew I can also begin tomorrow anew and the day after that, and so I shall be truly open to change.” 1 likes
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