Michael Casey has been a monk of Tarrawarra Abbey (Australia) since 1960 and is the author of many books including Sacred Reading (1996). In this sober-minded work, he offers his verse-by-verse reflections on the Prologue of St. Benedict's Rule. He hopes that there will be a wide audience for a work such as this but is under no illusions about its arcane emphasis on the monastic life of men many centuries ago.

Among the topics covered in the Prologue of St. Benedict's Rule are the goal of negating self-will, the idea that grace precedes goodness, the important role of "the labor of obedience" in the quest for union with God, the necessity of a total and unflinching dedication to Christ, the fear of the Lord, purity of heart, giving glory to God, the cultivation of whole-heartedness, and the monastery as "a school of the Lord's service."

Casey calls St. Benedict "the patron saint of moderation" and has some interesting things to say about zeal, the practice of everyday virtues, and the quest for spiritual progress. We especially liked the author's take on peace in the monastery:

"You might remember the episcopal motto adapted by Angelo Roncalli before he became Pope John XXIII: 'In God's will is peace.' When we live in harmony with God's will, then our tongues are under control, we live good lives, and our hearts and minds are possessed by the tranquility of good order; we are in a situation where growth is possible. This is the peace 'that surpasses understanding,' the peace that is the Lord's gift to those who are his disciples."