To those interested or fascinated by the monastic life as well as those who follow the Rule of St. Benedict as monks, nuns, or Oblates, Strangers to the City is an illuminating read. Fr. Michael Casey, O.C.S.O., is a Cistercian monk of Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia, a spiritual writer on monastic topics and a much sought-after retreat master and lecturer.
Strangers to the City is his reflection on the monastic life. One might first think that such a book would have nothing to say to those not living the monastic life or as Oblates; this is not true. The Rule of St. Benedict is a guide to living the Gospel, and all Christians are called to live the Gospels, not only monks or the other religious or clergy. Casey discusses the values of asceticism, poverty, leisure, chastity, obedience, sharing, caring, meditation or lectio Divina, contemplation, and other topics. In addition to his own reflections, he brings in the reflections of the monastic fathers and mothers to show how one can live a spiritual life based on the Rule of St. Benedict.
Casey’s book can be very academic at times with intellectual verbiage. The general reader should not be scared off by this, though; non-intellectuals can gain much from this book.
Casey shows how the Rule of Benedict is nothing to be run away from. One of the key words of the Rule is moderation, a well-tried rule that has passed time’s test. St. Benedict was not into extremes, and Casey shows how Benedictine moderation, balance, peace, and simplicity can help our chaotic world. A bibliography is not included, but the end-notes can serve very well for that.
Fr. Michael is the author of An Unexciting Life: Reflections on Benedictine Spirituality (2005), Fully Human, Fully Divine: An Interactive Christology (2004), A Guide to Living the Truth (2001), Return to the Heart (2001), Truthful Living (1998), Sacred Reading (1996), Toward God (1996), and other books and articles.
Strangers to the City is part of the Paraclete Press “A Voice from the Monastery” series and is highly recommended to those curious about the monastic life as it is lived under the Rule of St. Benedict. It also belongs in any library’s collection on monasticism.