Humility Rules: Saint Benedicts Twelve-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem By Augustine Wetta

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    Saint Benedict's fifth-century guide to humility offers the antidote to the epidemic of stress and depression overwhelming modern young adults. But the language of The Rule by Saint Benedict is medieval, and its most passionate advocates are cloistered monks and nuns. How then does this ancient wisdom translate into advice for ordinary people?

    With candor, humor, and a unique approach to classical art, Father Augustine, a high school teacher and coach, breaks down Saint Benedict's method into twelve pithy steps for finding inner peace in a way that can be applied to anyone's life.

    Drawing upon his own life experiences, both before and after becoming a Benedictine monk, the author explains every step, illustrating each chapter with color reproductions of monastic art that he has embellished with comic flourishes. The winsome combination is sure to keep readers from taking themselves too seriously—which is already a first step on the path to humility. Humility Rules: Saint Benedicts Twelve-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem

    In a semi-parody of self-help books, J. Augustine Wetta crafts a twelve-step program from Saint Benedict's The Rule, his guide to running a monastery. The Rule is amazingly thorough, covering everything from praying at certain hours to dealing with material goods to dealing with monks who have gone bad. Wetta has a surprising amount of material to draw from. Benedict describes a ladder of humility by which a monk can grown in holiness. The twelve rungs of the ladder are fear of God, self-denial, obedience, perseverance, repentance, serenity, self-abasement, prudence, silence, dignity, discretion, and reverence. [p. 19] Most self-help books on the market are trying to boost people up by learning how to love yourself or promote yourself. Wetta (through Benedict) presents a way that requires an honest assessment of personal strengths and weaknesses. But the focus is on relating to other people and to God, not on the self. Wetta gives the rungs new names riffing on self-help standards: self-denial becomes don't be true to yourself; repentance becomes put your worst foot forward; prudence becomes think inside the box; etc. It's a brilliant parody and shows how the life of holiness is so far from the life of pop-culture.

    Each step has its own chapter, with light and short discussions of how it is applied in thought, word, and deed. Wetta uses examples from his own life. He's a Benedictine monk at Saint Louis Abbey where he teaches and coaches rugby. He grew up on an island in the Gulf of Mexico and has a great love of water sports. The examples he uses are very relatable and make his points well. Each discussion comes with a little suggested homework, often quite challenging things like Let someone less competent than you tell you what to do. [p. 34] That will put some humility in you for sure.

    Wetta includes a lot of medieval, monk-centric pictures to which he has added humorous elements. Most are sports-related, like the cover showing Saint Benedict carrying a skateboard. They are a lot of fun and add to the lightness of touch that makes the book so charming and convincing.

    Highly recommended--I will probably re-read this next Lent! Christian, Self Help I didn't realize that this was geared for young adults but no matter! I found the book witty and humorous and the pictures throughout are delightful! ☺️ Christian, Self Help If you're a.) interested in St. Benedict's book, The Rule, for his monks but b.) too lazy to read the full text (for the ambitious, author Augustine Wetta recommends the 1980 translation by Fry, Horner, and Baker), this is your ticket.

    It's printed on shiny paper like my childhood missal. It has pictures of monks skateboarding, listening to tunes with earbuds, and playing guitar. And it presents St. Benedict's Ladder of Humility (there are 12 rungs) piecemeal with commentary by the author.

    The format starts with a modern-English quote from the book, then an elaboration from Wetta, then a funny homework assignment. Stuff like Smile at someone who doesn't look like they're going to smile back and Let someone less competent than you tell you what to do and Laugh with someone who laughs at you.

    Monastic life for Christians in many cases intersects with monastic life in other religions. Buddhists have communal meals but cannot talk. Ditto Benedictine monks, except ONE monk, who is charged with reading to the group as they eat.

    Some of the thoughts and rules made monastic life look less than ideal, but that's me talking, not the author. Wetta is a bit glib at times, reaching for humor (even though Benedict frowned on too much laughing) and, as you might expect, bringing up doctrinal you may not find self-evident.

    Still, it's good to see people care enough to commit their life to a peaceful cause and a monastic tradition (the author, a monk himself, is walking the walk and talking the talk -- when not eating a meal, I mean).

    The world could surely use more of THAT as could all of us free agents bouncing around the big bad we call Earth. Christian, Self Help Another excellent book by Fr. Wetta! If there's one thing our world needs more of, that's humility. This book was a great look at humility, what it means, and how to humble oneself, all by looking at what St. Benedict outlined in The Rule. This book is written in such a way that teens and adults will find a lot to laugh about and a lot to relate to. Plus, it's chock full of Wetta's special brand of humor, and some hilariously doctored illustrations of monks from old paintings.

    Not only is this book a helpful overview, but it also provides the reader with helpful homework tips to assist in your growth in holiness. A must for any Catholic! Christian, Self Help The translation of the title (from the “Ladder of Humility” in St. Benedict’s Rule to “Humility Rules” as if to cheer for it as the most important of virtues rather than to imply a mere handbook to humility) is a clear sign of the nature of this book. As are the multiple beautiful religious artworks used throughout and given additional artistic touches, mostly in the form of sports or music equipment : the cover shows a serious monk with a crozier in one hand and a skateboard in the other; a recurring image of a Carthusian monk with a coffee mug saying “I [heart] Me” and a wall sticker that proclaims, “Be Yourself; Everyone else’s already taken”; and myriad pictures of serious monks in shades or on motorcycles or lifting weights or eating hamburgers and pizza. All of these images make the important point that whether you are a 6th-century monk, a 21st-century monk, or a soul of any time period looking to find ways to strengthen your spiritual life and, as the subtitle says, find genuine self-esteem, this is a good guide for you. It will both instruct and entertain you, at times touching your heart and at others making you laugh out loud.

    Father Wetta sticks close to the twelve steps that St. Benedict describes in the Rule, but he discusses them in terms that are quite applicable to contemporary life, and he sprinkles them with anecdotes about his own life (sometimes just hilarious). Each chapter is short, starts with a quote from the Rule, and ends with a little bit of homework for the reader. Each of the steps is divided into four sections: an introduction, the virtue in thought, the virtue in word, and the virtue in deed. It is easy to breeze through a virtue or two at a sitting, but if you go too fast, you miss taking the ideas behind the anecdotes as seriously as they are meant to be taken. This little volume works for teenagers as well as for older folks, but I suspect that the older folks are the ones that will go back to reread passages to let all the aspects of the virtues sink in, while the younger ones might go back to enjoy the sassy artwork. It is a book that needs to be reread.

    There’s a ton of irony at work in the art and the titles and sometimes in the homework, but it’s not the sort that is poking fun at serious matters. Rather it is the kind that is a reminder of how far short of the glory of God we often fall, how all things--great and small, high-minded and silly, spectacular and mundane--work together for that glory, and how we need to develop the richness of true humility if we ever want to experience the fullness and beauty of genuine self-esteem. Christian, Self Help

    This is a fun, quick, easy-to-read book that I could see teen boys lapping right up! The author smartly presents Benedictine rules in all of their countercultural beauty. Who dares to question the slogans from which many a meme are born? Like Follow Your Dreams, Be True to Yourself, and Think Outside the Box. J. Augustine Wetta does, and St. Benedict does too.

    Each of the 12 steps in St. Benedict's Ladder of Humility are examined and applied in thought, word, and deed. Each also includes an appropriate homework assignment. Something like, Clean up someone else's mess.

    Not only is the book fun and inspiring, but it's practical too. I can see it being easily adapted for use in a group of teens, generating lots of discussion.

    I should also mention the unique illustrations created by the author. Classical, public domain images of monks are modernized with the addition of sports equipment, ear buds, sunglasses, etc., all contributing to the thoughtful but light tone of the book.

    Perfect for teens. (But adults might learn a bit from it, too!)

    My only complaint is to the publisher: Please, Ignatius Press, put the punctuation inside the quotes where it belongs! You're driving me crazy! Christian, Self Help One of the best spiritual books I have ever read. Father Wetta was able to combine humor to bring some complex concepts down to an easily understandable level, without taking away the depth needed to strive in holiness. Highly recommend this one for everyone. Christian, Self Help My husband, my teen-aged son, and I really liked this book. We liked it so much that we reread it a second time after completing the first reading. For us, this was a bedtime meditation. It is both lighthearted and serious. I love the pictures of monks with skateboards, skiing, surfing, etc. I think the message of the book in a nutshell would be that genuine self-esteem is not liking oneself better. It is recognizing the truth about oneself and disciplining oneself so that one is becoming a better person. The steps to grow in this are: 1. Fear of God, 2. Self-Denial, 3. Obedience, 4. Perseverance, 5. Repentance, 6. Serenity, 7. Self-Abasement, 8. Prudence, 9. Silence, 10. Dignity, 11. Discretion, and 12. Reverence. Each step has a brief introduction and then is addressed in thought, word, and deed. There are quotes from St. Benedict's Rule, anecdotes from the life of a Fr. Wetta, guidance, and homework for each step such as Prudence in Thought, Prudence in Word, and Prudence in deed. The homework for prudence in word is Just say 'thank you' the next time someone tells you something you already know.

    The passages and interesting, thought-provoking, and immediately applicable.

    I recommend this book for any Catholic family to read together. Fr. Wetta is funny and easy to relate to. In addition to that, there are a couple of Youtube videos of him answering questions that a youth group had for him after reading the book. We watched half of one of those this evening and are enjoying getting to know Fr. Wetta in that format after getting to know him through his book. Christian, Self Help A quick and easy read that packs a punch in such a small book. There were only 177 pages but there was more insight in those few pages that there is in some 300+ page books that just ramble on and confuse readers. If you want a taste of what Benedictine spirituality is about -- without diving too deeply into it at first -- this is a great place to begin. Christian, Self Help Humility Rules: Saint Benedict’s 12-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem by J. Augustine Wetta, OSB. The author does not talk down to teens, but rather challenges them to engage with their faith as they grow in virtue. Self-esteem might seem like a dated buzzword, but Wetta demonstrates how it’s important, even virtuous, for teens to develop a healthy self-esteem. Read my full review. Christian, Self Help

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