Esther de Waal is well known to Benedictine Oblates (lay associates of the Benedictine order who don’t have to be Catholic to be members) as the author of the book Seeking God, originally published in 1984 with a second edition released circa 2001. De Waal’s new 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 Waal reflects on the Holy Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday) and describes how those preparing to be initiated into the Church underwent instruction and preparation for baptism. She depicts the baptismal ritual of the early Church based on ancient Christian sources and discusses the creation of baptismal fonts as a reflection of the theology and symbolic meaning of baptism. Some fonts were in the form of a tomb, symbolizing that one was dying to be reborn in Christ.
The second part considers the Prologue of the Rule as a baptismal sermon or lecture, talking as it does 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.
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.
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, a 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.