Seventy-Four Tools for Good Living

Reflections on the Fourth Chapter of Benedict's Rule
Michael Casey

ISBN: 9780814637203, 3720
Details: 296 pgs, 5 3/8 x 8 1/4
Publication Date: 05/07/2014


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There is more in Benedict's Rule than meets the eye. Based on the rules of life of John Cassian and Saint Basil, Benedict invites us to go further back to the scriptural basis of all Christian and monastic living and pursue our spiritual journey by the guidance of the Gospel.

This book of reflections on the tools for good living is intended to be read very slowly, one section at a time. In addition to communicating reflections on each verse of chapter 4, Casey invites readers to:

  • continue the process of reflection for themselves
  • apply what is written to their own lives
  • draw on their own wisdom and insight
  • and, ultimately, broaden their experience of monastic spirituality

Michael Casey, OCSO, is a monk of Tarrawarra Abbey (Australia). He holds a degree in Scripture at Leuven and a doctorate from Melbourne College of Divinity for a study of desire for God in the writings of Bernard of Clairvaux. In recent decades he has been engaged in exploring different aspects of monastic spirituality, writing, and giving conferences throughout the English-speaking monastic world. His books include The Road to Eternal Life: Reflections on the Prologue of Benedict's Rule (Liturgical Press, 2011)

Ancient monastic authors often stressed their wish to be of use to readers. Like them, Michael Casey has written a useful volume, a volume to live by. Drawing on a wealth of sources, and reading deeply in the book of experience, he shows what a vast perspective is indicated in the `little Rule' of Benedict, what fullness of life is in store for those who follow it with courage and coherence.
Eric Varden, OCSO, Mount Saint Bernard Abbey

In my regular university course on the Rule of St. Benedict as a mirror to present-day culture there is close reading of some chapters of the Rule. To my shame I tended to neglect chapter four a bit. Michael Casey's deep reflections in this remarkable book are nourished by a half century of monastic reading and deep psychological and existential insight. I can now draw from nearly 300 pages of wisdom on the fourth chapter of Benedict's Rule. Just to quote from Fr. Michael's preface: "There is much more in Benedict's Rule than meets the superficial eye."
Wil Derkse, Andreas van Melsen Chair for Science, Society and Worldviews (retired), Catholic Radboud University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Michael Casey brings a deep lived knowledge of the monastic tradition to this splendid set of reflections on Benedict's Rule. He manages to marry faith commitment to pastoral common sense in such a manner that monks and laity as well can find answers to that request made to the old desert dwellers: Give me a good word. Casey, in fact, gives us many good words.
Lawrence S. Cunningham, John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology (Emeritus), The University of Notre Dame

Seventy-Four Tools for Good Living is Michael Casey's ingenious way of rendering the wisdom of St. Benedict for our times. As a master teacher, he weaves together sources from the monastic tradition and contemporary insights through these seventy-four tools. If this is not his best book, it is certainly his most readable and gracious offering to his students and readers. This is a book that comes from his personal lectio and living the monastic way of life in Australia. It is also a book I can use for lectio and living my monastic way of life here in Indiana. Lay contemplatives, especially oblates, will find this a cut above the books published in most bibliographies on monastic spirituality. This book matters!
Meg Funk, OSB, Our Lady of Grace Monastery

This book is not an exegetical study; one goes elsewhere for such. Rather this is a wisdom text, exploring each tool in a search to comprehend these pithy sayings for good living. . . . It is his own lived experience that brightens up the text. Casey's years of cenobitic living, coupled with his perceptive eye and peppered wit give life to the seventy-four tools.
Timothy Joyce, OSB, Glastonbury Abbey, Hingham, MA, American Benedictine Review

"The incomparable Casey has done it again. He seems to deliberately choose the most unlikely sections of the Rule of Benedict and make them into something appealing, even compelling, for the modern reader."
Terrence Kardong, OSB, Tjurunga