Book ReviewsSeeking Life: the baptismal invitation of the Rule of St. Benedict

Book written by: Esther de Waal.  Collegeville, Minn. : Liturgical Press.  148 pages.  Hardback.  May 2009.  ISBN 978-0-8146-1880-6.  $19.95.


Esther de Waal is well-known to Benedictine Oblates (lay associates of the Benedictine order who aren’t required to be Catholic to be members) as the author of the book Seeking God which was published in 1984.  De Waal’s latest book discusses the Prologue of St. Benedict’s Rule in connection with the theology and liturgy of baptism. 


The first part of the book is a discussion on baptism from its earliest times up to today from its liturgical and artistic descriptions.  De Wall describes how those preparing to be initiated into the Church underwent instruction and preparation for baptism.  She explains what the baptismal ritual was like in the early Church based on ancient Christian sources and discusses how the creation of baptismal fonts tried to reflect the theology and symbolic meaning of baptism.  Some fonts were in the form of a tomb, to symbolically show that one was dying and being born again or re-born in Christ.  


The second section of the book is a discussion of the Prologue of the Rule as a baptismal sermon or lecture since it is talking about monks or nuns entering into the monastery or the “School of the Lord’s service” which is being initiated into the monastic life.  Baptism is an initiation rite whereby a person becomes a Christian.  This book is a wonderful tool for meditation on Easter, baptism and Benedictine monasticism. 

De Waal includes an anthology of quotes from various Church and monastic Fathers.  There are endnotes and acknowledgements of where the inspiring illustrations come from.


Esther De Waal is an Anglican (Episcopalian in the U.S.) Oblate from Hereford, England who gives lectures and is a very sought after speaker on how lay people can live the Benedictine way of life and on Celtic spirituality.  She is the author of The Celtic Way of Prayer (1997), Every Earthly Blessing (1999), God Under My Roof (2006), A Life-Giving Way (1995), Living with Contradiction (1989), Celtic Vision (2001), Lost in Wonder (2003), and several more books.

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