Jerome KODELL. Don't Trust the Abbot, Musings from the Monastery. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2009. pp. 94. $11.95 pb. ISBN 978-0-8146-3238-3.
Reviewed by Susanna L. CANTU GREGORY, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH 45469

This text offers a collection of thirty-eight short essays written over the last ten years by Abbot Jerome Kodell, O.S.B., of Subbiaco Abbey in Arkansas. Addressing challenges to living the Christian life in a contemporary U.S. context, he writes about traditional monastic practices aimed at cultivating trust in God, strong community life, interior restfulness, and embracing one's call. Especially insightful are his descriptions of contemporary spiritual struggles such as idolatry, over-responsibility, the need for control, ambiguities surrounding obedience to religious authority, and overcoming distractions in prayer.

This short text, divided into sections on Trust and Faith, Christian Life and Prayer, would be attractive as light daily meditations or as prompts for further reflection on deepening one's life with God through the church. A Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults group might enjoy this text for its conversational and anecdotal discussion of basic Catholic practices such as those associated with Easter, intercessory prayer, the saints, Mary, and Mother Theresa. And for those interested in the relevance of monastic ways of life for the laity, Kodell's text supplies an easy-to-read set of reflections on key topics like hospitality, lectio divina, prayerful work and silence as well as some rumination on common misconceptions surrounding monastic life. Overall this little anthology would be an asset to any collection of contemporary light spiritual reading.

TO ORDER BOOKS: - Continuum - Crossroad - Eerdmans Publishing - Liturgical Press - Orbis Books