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Liturgical Press

Benedictine Options

Learning to Live from the Sons and Daughters of Saints Benedict and Scholastica

Patrick Henry

Benedictine Options SEE INSIDE
Benedictine Options

ISBN: 9780814666814, 6681

Details: 176 pgs, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 1/2
Publication Date: 09/03/2021
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You want insights for living? Look to people whose understandings have been practiced for fifteen hundred years. Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica, his twin sister, established a flexible pattern that has adopted, adapted, challenged—and outlived—myriad cultures. Their sons and daughters today, who devote their time and talents to the “school for the Lord’s service” launched by the Rule of Benedict, demonstrate a whole range of options that are accessible to anyone. It is a mistake to think that “forsaking the world” is the Benedictine option. Options (plural) are, instead, “for the sake of the world.”

Patrick Henry was professor of religion at Swarthmore College from 1967 to 1984 and executive director of the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research from 1984 to 2004. In retirement he is a columnist for the St. Cloud Times. Among his books are New Directions in New Testament Study; For the Sake of the World: The Spirit of Buddhist and Christian Monasticism (with Donald Swearer); Benedict’s Dharma: Buddhists Reflect on the Rule of Saint Benedict (editor); and Flashes of Grace: 33 Encounters with God.

ISBN: 9780814666814, 6681

Details: 176 pgs, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 1/2
Publication Date: 09/03/2021


"Patrick Henry, who has lived and worked among Benedictine men and women for many years, is offering us a refreshing and realistic look at the way that ancient Benedictine values are lived in the world today. At a time when so many societies are damaged by divisive ideology, naked greed, and lust for power, this book helps us to see there is another way. In these pages we find monastics—ordinary people living an extraordinary life of prayer and community—who make us realize that grounding oneself in love and hospitality is not ancient, but always new, and more relevant than ever."
Kathleen Norris, author of The Cloister Walk and Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life

"From a person deeply engaged in Benedictine communities comes this learned reflection on the charism of this Christian tradition. Patrick Henry has aptly described the ‘rootedness and far-ranging adventure’ of the Benedictines. Rather than withdrawing from the world, these vowed Christians engage it with humor, stability, interfaith curiosity, and their life of prayer, a pathway of generative living. Readers will be drawn to this vision of expressed faith, especially since the wisdom of the Benedictines is not relegated solely to cloistered life. It is for the world, truly."
Molly T. Marshall, PhD, President, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

"Here is a vigorous, optimistic exposition of the contemporary Benedictine charism. This is a book for which we should all be grateful. It makes for energizing and encouraging reading. Written equally for monastic and non-monastic, we are given a survey which shows the development and expansion of Benedictine options in today's world."
Esther de Waal, author of The Way of Simplicity

"Patrick Henry's new book expands the growing literature on living the Rule of St. Benedict for ordinary people. He points out many options in the Rule that could apply to anyone: listening, hospitality, discipline, persistence, and reminds us that for Benedict the monastery was a lay community. Laypeople wanting to deepen their faith and Christian living will find much valuable guidance in this well-written book."
William O. Paulsell, author of Longing for God: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism

“Benedictinism is of the substance of every now. It takes life as it is and gives it goals to achieve from one culture to the next. And it is exactly there that Henry breaks open the essence of Benedictinism to the modern world. He shows us the elements of a spiritual tradition that is imbedded in the basics of life when the rest of the world tilts toward its extremes. He gives us Benedictine vectors to steer by—community, tradition, hospitality, productivity and stewardship—as well as an immersion in the spiritual heart of life. He presents Benedictinism as a mirror to the world around it as it defines and redefines itself from age to age.”
Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter

"I am so grateful to Patrick Henry for writing this book as a reflection on and response to Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option. Henry reads Dreher’s work with a deserved critical eye and ear, helping the reader to take the questions that concern Dreher seriously. However, he simultaneously challenges the monochromatic view of the 'Benedict option' that Dreher insists on and shares his experiences of the many different ways to live a faithful Christian life following the Rule of Benedict. Henry’s is a generous, capacious view of human faithfulness to the Gospel in the midst of the real and actual world we find ourselves in."
Abbot John Klassen, OSB

"I loved this book. I expected to find Benedictine gems in it. I wasn't disappointed. Highly recommended!"
Tui Motu Magazine

"The most intriguing chapter is the concluding where Henry animates what he has been building up to: that 'Benedictine options depend on evidence of the actual lives of real Benedictines.' Here he focuses briefly on the lives of Sister Jeremy Hall, OSB, and Father Godfrey Diekmann, OSB, and in a review of lessons of this son and daughter of Saint Benedict, Henry leaves the reader with the sure knowledge that the school of experience is the best teacher."
Catholic Books Review

"Henry, intimately familiar with the Rule and Benedictine life, draws deeply in his research. His lively book is warmly recommended for all libraries collecting in religious life and spirituality."
Catholic Library World

"This is a profound and thought provoking book. Every monastic and oblate would benefit from spending time and thought with this book."
The American Monastic Newsletter

"Those seeking a rootedness in their faith and practice, integrated with a flexibility to deal with the unpredictability of daily life, will find in these pages a solid, broad-based assessment of Benedictine monasticism and its continuing value in the twenty-first century."
Today's American Catholic

"Benedictine Options is Patrick Henry's appreciative and vigorous defense of the many Benedictines he has known. It is from observation of their lives that one gains insight into the spiritual life that is not taught but caught. One gets it through contagion."
Dana Greene, National Catholic Reporter

"Henry draws together insights from theology, ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and history. He combines these with his long involvement with Benedictines to present a broad, positive vision of the Benedictine charism. His work, grounded in solid scholarship and broad experience, offers a wealth of practical insight to all who are part of the Benedictine family."
Benedictines Magazine

"This is the type of book that can profitably be opened randomly to nearly any page."
Journal of Social Encounters

“Brilliant. A clear and forceful counter to Rod Dreher’s severely flawed and utterly simplistic book The Benedict Option.”
Kevin W. Irwin, Worship