In Seeking Life: The Baptismal Invitation of the Rule of St. Benedict, renowned author Esther de Waal returns to the Rule of Saint Benedict—the inspiration for Seeking God, her classic book published twenty-five years ago. Here, she focuses on the prologue to the Rule and shows how it contains the clues we need to both understand and live by the vows made at our baptism. Baptism is so fundamental to our Christian identity that many congregations renew their baptismal promises each year on Easter. Yet how well do we understand the spirit and depth of those vows? How much do they shape our daily lives? Parts of the Rule of Saint Benedict are believed to be based on addresses given to those about to be—or who had recently been—baptized; they are a practical guide to "choosing the road that leads to life." With her characteristic insight and wisdom, Esther de Waal draws out enduring spiritual teaching on how to live when reborn "of water and the spirit."
Esther de Waal is one of today's most celebrated spiritual writers. Seeking God, her classic book on the relevance of the Rule of Saint Benedict, has opened up the riches of the monastic tradition to readers throughout the world for almost twenty-five years. Greatly in demand as a speaker and retreat leader, she lives in Herefordshire, UK.
Anyone familiar with Esther de Waal's prominent writings on the Rule of Benedict will be glad she has returned to the subject to focus on the sacrament of baptism. She is a lovely writer who sheds light here on the inaugural event in Christian life and what it can mean on the road of discipleship.
Bill Tammeus, Faith Matters Weblog
Don't even recall when you last renewed your baptismal promises? Esther de Waal suspects many believers become ho-hum about the life-changing mission we accepted at Baptism. She offers `a deep look at the deep past' to reignite our commitment to the risen Christ, taking us into the dramatic Baptism ritual embraced by the early Christians. Baptism for them was above all `urgent,' a `turning toward this promise of life and freedom.' Seeking Life also delves deep into the Rule of St. Benedict, a monastic pioneer who, says de Waal, sought `people who are fully alive, who live life to the full.'
Catherine O'Connell-Cahill, Senior Editor, U.S. Catholic
A sequel to the 1984 classic, Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict, this current book is even more eloquent and descriptive of Christian living. Mining spiritual treasures in the prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict and other ancient texts, Esther de Waal offers a series of profound reflections on the Christian life. Her focus is baptism and the rich symbolism associated with this rite. In the early church, baptism was preceded by lengthy catechical instruction and was highly celebratory. De Waal compares the path of spiritual development that is crystallized in baptism with the Bible-centered focus of the Prologue. A compilation of apt selections-hitherto obscure-by fourth and fifth century writers, are a joy to discover. At every turn, we are delighted by a fresh insight of elegant simplicity. This book speaks to my spirit, striking a tone of clarity and authenticity.
I warmly recommend it.
Cistercian Studies Quarterly
There's a prayer from the early church-`O God, make us truly alive!' Esther de Waal's book is a beautiful descant on this ancient prayer. At a time when both the church and the culture seem to be bereft of memory, the perspective of a rigorous historian who is also a committed pilgrim comes as water in the desert. This book is, indeed, `a deep look at the deep past.' The sacrament of baptism seen through the lens of the Prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict becomes a prism through which we can recover a joyful and generous anthropology. The reader will find in these pages a spirit celebrating an immense and intelligent charity-a charity which rescues us from the entanglements of our own narrow and ultimately joyless psycho-drama.
Alan Jones, Dean Emeritus, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Seeking Life is a marvelous book. Whether it be used as spiritual reading or explicitly in preparation for the renewal of the Baptismal Covenant at the Easter Vigil, Seeking Life offers a rich resource on the meaning of Christian identity.
Anglican Theological Review
Seeking Life is destined to be another classic from the noted author Esther de Waal. Here she offers a refreshing, yet theologically solid, reflection on the Sacrament of Baptism and the rites and rituals leading up to this event during Easter Vigil.
Catholic Library World
Seeking Life is particularly appropriate for preparation for Easter and the renewal of baptismal vows.
This collection of reflections on the Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict and baptism is a beautifully crafted work, meant to be savored over time. . . . This book will appeal to a wide readership. It could serve as a rich sourcebook for catechetical work, particularly those engaged in ministries related to baptismal preparation. Homilists will appreciate its breadth of thematic content. The general reader seeking nourishment for the spiritual journey will recognize in de Waal a loving companion and guide.
Stating to be a road map to the road that leads to life, author Esther de Waal hopes to inspire a return to faith in her readers. Seeking Life as such, is a fine choice for Christian readers.
Midwest Book Review
Seeking Life is a wonderful tool for meditation on Easter, baptism, and Benedictine monasticism. De Waal reflects on various phrases of the Prologue in conjunction with baptism-the first words of the Prologue are `Listen my son,' calling us to listen to God who speaks through the Bible, the Word of God, and through the superiors and others.
Readers familiar with Esther de Waal's previous work will welcome this volume for its deeply reflective, integrative approach to the mystery of the Triduum. Monastics long familiar with the oft-repeated observation regarding the baptismal character of the Prologue of the Rule of Benedict will welcome the extended and well-researched analysis of the key concepts of this beloved and evocative invitation to monastic life. First-time readers will find a meditative essay that takes them into the mystery of baptism and discipleship, as it is celebrated in the Triduum liturgy. To accomplish these goals, de Waal ably reaches back into the classic Christian catechesis for catechumens, revealing a depth and breadth of reading and synthesis of theological ideas.
Rt. Rev. John Klassen, OSB, Abbot of Saint John's Abbey