Norvene Vest is an oblate of a Benedictine abbey in Valyermo, California. This volume is the third in a series she's written on Benedictine spirituality for contemporary life (No Moment Too Small and Friend of the Soul). She begins with an assessment of three roadblocks to living a full life today: the lack of a coherent language for dialogue about the meaning of our days, an exaggerated reliance upon results, and a delight in mocking the tender and the cherished.
Vest finds within the Benedictine tradition a healthy appreciation for desiring; she sees it as a key to unlocking the Divine dimension of modern life. With a grand overview of her subject, the author discusses wisdom (our relationship to the world), virtue (the challenges of developing character), and ethics (in terms of possessions, the spoken word, violence, and sexual relations). Along the way, Vest clarifies Benedict's celebration of humility and his cogent ideas and ideals on "the instruments of good works."
How refreshing it is to read someone who is convinced about the nobility of virtue. Vest defines it as "the capacity to live and act in accord with our deep human desire for wholeness." And even better is the final chapter where she unfurls the monastic custom of "keeping custody" of one's eyes, ears, and mouth. Vest has written an important ethical manual filled with trenchant insights into the treasure trove of wisdom in Benedictine spirituality.