Janet`s November letter to the Community

Janet’s November 2019

Letter to the Community


Earlier this year a colleague drew my attention to a book of daily readings with a commentary on the Rule of St Benedict: The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century by Joan Chittister.   Saint Benedict was born around the year 480 and died in 547.  He was born into a noble Roman family in Umbria in central Italy, but became a hermit as a young man.  He earned considerable respect from those in the local area and was later invited to become the abbot of a community of brothers.  This was not a success as Benedict found their way of life lazy and corrupt and his attempts at reform were met with considerable hostility (they tried to poison him!).  He left and returned to solitary life, but later founded a number of monasteries, including the Abbey of Montecassino, which would become the most famous monastery in Europe.  His “Rule” was written in the early sixth century to provide a pattern for the organisation of life in a monastery.  It is full of both practical and spiritual wisdom, still highly relevant today, being concerned with relationships between people as well as our relationship with God.  I will probably return to the content in my articles in the coming months!


Interestingly, Joan Chittister’s book divides the text of the Rule in such a way as to mean that each part of the text, together with the commentary, is read every four months, that is three times each year.  This enables the reader to pray with the same passage repeatedly, allowing the meaning to penetrate at a slowly increasing depth into our hearts and lives so that we can learn to live them, and not just think them.  I’m greatly enjoying it, finding it fruitful and challenging.  This is a recommendation, not only of the book, which is wonderful, but also of the method.  Don’t just skim – go deep.  Whatever spiritual reading you choose (and you should!), take time over it and allow it to change not just your mind, but your life.


We are living in difficult and unpredictable times.  The challenge for us is to stay rooted and grounded in God, remembering that we are held in his hands and that we are responsible to him.  Good spiritual reading encourages us to keep a clear perspective.  I’d be happy to offer further recommendations.

With every blessing,


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