Tuesday 26 July 2022

Peace of Heart According to St Benedict - Father Bernard Ducruet, OSB

Peace of Heart According to St Benedict
Father Bernard Ducruet, OSB
Giles Conacher, OSB (Translator)
ISBN 9781784697426
eISBN 9781784697037 
CTS Booklet PA66

This is the second volume in this series to be released in translation by the Catholic Truth Society. The first to be released was Spiritual Combat: According to St Benedict, and it was an excellent read. At the end of that volume this one was announced. Unfortunately that was not the case this time. At the very end of both volumes to date we are informed that: 

“Fr Bernard Ducruet (1927-2020) entered the Benedictine Abbey of St-Benoît-sur-Loire as a monk in 1946. He was Abbot of the community and led it from 1971-1991, and died 4th April 2020. He was author of half a dozen other titles in this series.”

I am uncertain if all the books are being translated into English and released by the Catholic Truth Society, but based on these first two volumes I certainly hope so. But back to this book, it is an excellent volume. The booklet is listed at 48 pages and I highlighted 18 passages my first time through. The description of this book is:

“Learn to welcome peace beyond trials and to see it as a limitless gift from God, through teaching marked by the Spirit of St Benedict.

Trials quickly take Peace away from us. Does this mean peace of heart is impossible? No, for Jesus himself promised it to us. There is peace beyond our trials, but we do not receive it according to the way of the world. Fr Bernard Ducruet, through teaching marked by the Spirit of St Benedict, leads us to welcome the peace as a limitless gift of God and the fruit of struggle.”

The chapters in this volume are:

Peace of Heart: Translator’s Introduction
Peace, Ahead of Trials
Peace, Beyond Trials
How to Live Through Trials

Some of the passages I highlighted during my reading of this volume were:

“But although peace is a gift of God, it is also a task for us. It is all very well to tell world leaders, warring parties, the grasping, envious, or discontented to embrace each other and embrace peace, but that doesn’t change much, unless they want to listen. “What’s wrong with the world?” asked G.K.Chesterton. He answered, “I am.” The only person I can really influence and convert is me.”

“So what we need to do is to establish unity in our hearts, peace; that is what this little book is about. Abbot Bernard lived into his late nineties, helping the monks of his community and very many others outside his community in their efforts to follow Christ, to make him the centre of their lives, so that nothing was dearer to them, so that he could calm their hearts as he calmed the wind and waves for his storm-tossed disciples.”

“But often you see the word “peace” at the centre of a Crown of Thorns – pax in spinis, peace among the thorns, for as Jesus says, his peace is not as the world gives it, where outwardly all is calm and harmony, but in the depths, struggle and division.”

“The preservation of charity and peace is a primary concern of St Benedict, and as Abbot Bernard will show, he is alert to every aspect of what needs attention in community life, from humble material matters, to the more complicated human relationships and, finally, to the mystical, directly involving God.”

“Peace is a battle. We are not to submit to the conditions of life in which we find ourselves, but to manage them, so that they become productive of peace. However, at the same time as we are active by trying to establish the conditions most favourable to peace around us, we must constantly accept that peace is a gift of God, which goes beyond all our efforts to bring it about.”

“From his Roman temperament and from his Sabine family background, from which came Rome’s best administrators, he drew this sense of order and organisation, of which peace is the first fruit. Echoing biblical wisdom, an ancient proverb says: ‘Peace is the tranquillity of order’ [St Augustine].”

“In the first part we will discover how peace is fostered by order established among the goods and activities of the community. Then we will see how peace also depends on order established in personal relationships, because charity itself must be ordered. Finally, at a deeper level, we will see how peace is the order established by each of us when we order our passions in our interior life.”

“Peace is the fruit of that order in which a hierarchy of values is established, everyone has their place, the passions are controlled and things themselves are respected. For a young person of our era, that risks looking like a pretty boring world, because people often prefer caprice to structure, spontaneity to order, a passionate life to calmness of soul… But for anyone who wishes to go forward into the adventure of man with God, it is necessary to affirm their nature, to pacify it and to set it in order.”

“In ancient monasteries they used to build store-rooms and libraries which looked like churches. St Benedict recommends that all objects be respected like the sacred vessels of the altar. For the truth is that every object has the same value – that of bringing the brethren into relationship with each other.”

“Things have to be run so as to render a service, to give to those who have greater need, to bring about communion between the brothers who manage and the brothers who use.”

“Thus the goal of the Rule is not the formation of an élite, pure and hard, or to encourage competition in virtue, but to give everyone what is needed for all to reach eternal life together.”

“A peaceful community is necessarily one progressing towards its goal, which is communion. SS John XXIII and Paul VI said that peace is the name for the development of the whole man and of the whole of mankind. Within our communities, progress in charity is the source of peace. But this progress meets difficulties caused by characters, personal failings, errors, sins… A peaceful community is not one in which holiness is obvious, already achieved, impeccable in its morality.”

“Forgiveness is the source of grace because it restores order. That is also why humble confession of sins to a priest and receiving absolution are likewise sources of grace.”

“The whole teaching of the Rule consists of leading us to discover the deep heart, and to become stable in it. That is where the hidden heart is, where delight, the “wish to love”, is found, the loving will that corresponds to grace.”

“So the whole Rule, in its various parts, is intended to teach us to pacify our heart and to dwell in its depths. The watchfulness of humility, obedience, attention to work, silence, the liturgy, all invite us to dwell in our hearts by going beyond the turbulences of feelings and senses. Having been given peace, we shall bring peace to others.”

“It is not possible to be faithful to the Gospel without being faced with this mystery of impossible peace. Wisdom and peace, then, are tried by the consequences of man’s sin. They have need of being redeemed by the Paschal mystery. Peace remains a battle which must face all the forces of evil.”

“Trials, whether of loneliness, absurdity or death, cause us to lose the peace of mind which we had so long sought and built up in our relationships with others, with things and in the pacification of our own hearts.”

“In our trials it is good for us to meditate on the Passion of the Lord. It is just when we offer him our crosses, by detaching ourselves from them, and when we take up his Cross, that we discover how much his Cross is carrying us, because it is life-giving and glorious, while ours crush us.”

This volume was a timely read for me. I am dealing with some trials in my family life, at work, and some unexpected trails because of long Covid. There was so much in this volume that was immediately applicable to the circumstances I find myself in. 

I hope those few samples quotes will inspire you to pick up this volume and give it a read. I know I will reread this book again and likely again many times over. I already plan to reread it before the next volume in the series releases. At least if they publish a third. Over the last few years I have read over 300 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. With the reading of this booklet, 300 unique titles and over 400 reads. There have been many amazing biographies, prayer and devotional booklets, books on Catholic teachings and thought.  I have been so blessed by the books and booklets from the CTS and have recommended so many to others. This book is an amazing read in a new series and I strongly urge you to give it a read. So please pick up a physical copy or the eBook and give it a read, it will be life changing! I am certain it will. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Father Bernard Ducruet, OSB:

No comments: