How to Live What the Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us about Happiness, Meaning, and Community

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What the Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us about Happiness, Meaning, and Community
How to Live

The Rule of St. Benedict arose from an era when a great civilization was threatened by violence, economic forces that favored the wealthy, political leaders that lacked the trust of the public, and rampant xenophobia. Similar to the anxieties and frustrations of the 6th century, we are living in a time where societies need to stress community over competition, consensus over conflict, simplicity over self gain, and silence over the constant chatter and distractions of our lives.

In How to Live, Judith Valente explores the key elements of the rule and clearly demonstrates how incorporating this ancient wisdom can change the quality and texture of our lives offering a way forward from the divisions gripping our country. These fresh and profound explorations are inspiring and thoughtful, and will motivate readers to live a meaningful life.

Format: Paperback book
Product code: IC747983
Dimensions: 8.9" x 6"
Length: 224 pages
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
ISBN: 978-1-57174-798-3
1-2 copies $15.26 each
3-5 copies $14.41 each
6+ copies $13.56 each
Written by Judith Valente


This is a timely book for troubled times, showing how the values and practices established by St. Benedict in the 6th century can help us lead happier lives. A self-professed workaholic, the author allows the reader to see how her life has changed for the better since she took this ancient wisdom to heart.
Kathleen Norris, author of The Cloister Walk, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Acedia and Me, and Saving Grace
To have such a gifted writer live and report through the lens of The Rule of St. Benedict is a blessing for all of us. Judith Valente offers more than perspective. Her life's work is monastic. To read, reflect and report is the role of a professional journalist. As an author and journalist, Valente has The Rule of Benedict for her editor. What a gift for us.
Mary Margaret Funk, author of Thoughts Matter; Tools Matter; Humility Matters; and Out of the Depths
Like all of Judith Valente's writing, this beautiful actualization of the Rule of St. Benedict is accessible, inviting, challenging, inspiring and wise. Even if you've never once set foot in a Benedictine monastery, this book will help you live a more contemplative and centered life in the busiest of worlds--your own.
James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage
How to Live is a warm, inviting, and accessible introduction to the wisdom of Saint Benedict and its continuing relevance for our time. Whether you are new to the Rule or have been following the Benedictine path for many seasons, this book will enrich you with its insights and charm.
Carl McColman, author of The Little Book of Christian Mysticism and Answering the Contemplative Call
For those of you who suspect that it is "high time to rise from sleep" this book holds much promise. Filled with the practical wisdom of St. Benedict it is a work that can help you discern ways to enrich your daily life. With keen insights into monastic living the author shares her own journey of discovering that the Rule of Benedict is not just for monks.
Macrina Wiederkehr, author of Seven Sacred Pauses
Suddenly, St. Benedict of Nursia, who lived 1600 years ago, is popular again. First was Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option, which encourages a reinvigorated faith based on classic Christian values as illuminated in the Rule of Saint Benedict. This similar work by journalist and media personality Valente is liberally peppered with Benedict's Rule, which she asserts provides "a veritable guarantee of the good life" in its focus on a balanced personal humility and individual spiritual growth. This is not a cry for retreat from the world; rather, Valente's own harried personal life serves as a microcosm through which to understand the value of everything in moderation, while focusing on simplicity and silence. The author finds that "silence sets down a place for wisdom to find a home" and with insight suggests that "sooner or later, we all need to let our souls catch up with the rest of our lives." VERDICT Comforting words for anyone in need of a period of reflection, for both individuals and book groups.
Library Journal, Sandra Collins, Byzantine Catholic Seminary Lib., Pittsburgh
How to Live is a vital call to a higher order in the turbulence and division of the times.
Meagan Logsdon, Foreword Reviews
In this accessible guide to the good life, journalist and poet Valente (Atchison Blue) illustrates how St. Benedict's sixth-century monastic manual for healthy communal living can address contemporary conundrums, such as the echo chamber of social media, information overload, and the challenges of "Workaholism and Over-Achieverism."
PW starred review
In 21 short chapters, Valente highlights key selections from the Rule of St. Benedict, analyzing how ancient directives on topics such as paying attention, living fully, silence, humility, prayer, forgiveness, trust, and leadership can strengthen relationships and communities. Valente picks out the Mount St. Scholastica Benedictine Monastery in Atchison, Kans., for their guidance on cultivating harmony: "Before you open your mouth to speak... ask yourself three questions: Is what I am about to say true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?" Valente argues that contemporary workplaces could benefit from Benedict's management model, which mandates hours for leisure and gives workers opportunities to request help or work reassignment, allowing them to "serve without distress." While acknowledging that many businesses lack the time required for monastics' consensus-building, she posits that the rule's emphasis on transparency and openness to multiple viewpoints promotes sound decision-making. These astute reflections on the rule's tools for nurturing community provide valuable guidance for those seeking balance in a conflict-ridden world.
Publishers Weekly (March 2018)


Judith Valente is an award-winning journalist, poet and essayist. She grew up in Bayonne, NJ, but Illinois has been her adopted home for many years. She is an on air correspondent for "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" on national PBS-TV, Chicago Public Radio, NPR, and WGLT in Normal IL. She is a sought-after speaker on such subjects as living a more contemplative life, discovering inner wisdom through poetry, and finding meaning in your work. She is married to Illinois Judge Charles Reynard, also a poet. The couple operates an alfalfa farm in central Illinois, where Judith is a member of the Grand Prairie Master Naturalists, a group that cares for and maintains the Illinois prairie.