With typical eloquence and wisdom, in The Way of St Benedict Rowan Williams explores the appeal of St Benedict's sixth-century Rule, showing it to be a document of great relevance to present day Christians and non-believers at our particular moment in history.
For over a millennium the Rule—a set of guidelines for monastic conduct—has been influential on the life of Benedictine monks, but has also served in some sense as a "background note" to almost all areas of civic experience: artistic, intellectual and institutional. The effects of this on society have been far-reaching and Benedictine communities and houses still attract countless visitors, testifying to the appeal and continuing relevance of Benedict's principles.
As the author writes, the chapters of his book, which range from a discussion of Abbot Cuthbert Butler's mysticism to "Benedict and the Future of Europe," are "simply an invitation to look at various current questions through the lens of the Rule and to reflect on aspects of Benedictine history that might have something to say to us." With Williams as our guide, The Way of St Benedict speaks to the Rule's ability to help anyone live more fully in harmony with others whilst orientating themselves fully to the will of God.
"Although Rowan Williams is not a Benedictine, this book clearly emerges from a life of prayer, wisdom, and the love of God. It offers 'an invitation to look at various current questions through the lens of the Rule and reflect on aspects of Benedictine history that might have something to say to us.' . . . The scope of Williams’s knowledge is remarkable, and the varied chapters reveal insights that would be of value to a wide audience. Some offer a detailed, speculative theological approach, requiring the reader to recall St Benedict’s opening injunction Ausculta, 'Listen!'"—Church Times