Fans of Michael Casey, of which I am one, will be grateful for this new book which is a collection of talks on the Prologue of the Rule of St Benedict originally on his community’s website. It is a good addition to Benedictine spirituality literature in that it focuses on the prologue.
The method is Benedictine, each phrase is chewed over, with insights from Scripture, the Fathers, and modern spiritual writers added where appropriate. Fr. Casey likens these talks in genre to the sermones of Bernard of Clairvaux. The talks represent, he believes, the first intensive commentary on the Prologue. He has proceeded through it phrase by phrase. Because the talks were written over the course of a year, we can see the development of his thought, new lights on the theme. So for example, in the second talk he shows us Benedict’s contrast not between submission and rebellion, but between labor and slackness. “What is being suggested here is that the major obstacle to spiritual growth is inactivity, taking things easy, letting things look after themselves” (15). In talk 34, on temptations, he returns to our desire to be left alone, not to be challenged to change. I talk 40, he reminds us that training in spiritual living is necessary if “our hearts and bodies are to be fully engaged in the service of God. . . Such a preparation of heart and body must be designed in such a way that it does not come under the control of self-will.” (145).
As usual with his books, it is a treasure of monastic wisdom made accessible to people of today, in lay or monastic life. It doesn’t sacrifice depth but gives the reader the strong meat necessary to grow in the spiritual life.