Book Review: Don’t Trust the Abbot

Abbot Jerome Kodell O.S.B. is the abbot of Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas. His book, Don’t Trust the Abbot: Musings from the Monastery (Liturgical Press, 94 pages, Paperback, ISBN 978-0-8146-3238-3, $11.95) is a collection of his letters published in his Abbey’s newsletter, The Abbey Messenger from 1989 to 2008. The letters have been edited and revised for this book. The title is a bit amusing since most monks trust their abbots to do their best as the spiritual father of the monastery. Abbot Jerome covers many topics that are of interest to Benedictine monks, nuns, oblates, and those others interested in Benedictine monasticism and its spirituality.

The topics he examines are divided into three parts: trust and faith, Christian life, and prayer. His letters are in a down-to-earth style that is appealing to his readers, even though Abbot Jerome is a scholar; his letters are accessible to anyone. He discusses topics like trust, prayer, silence, celibacy, responsibility, the dark night of the soul, saints, distractions during prayer, intercessory prayer, monasticism, private revelations, the American dream, and others. The letters are short (a page or two) and to the point.

Abbot Jerome Kodell, O.S.B. besides being an abbot is a founding member of the Little Rock Scripture Study Program. He is the author of Twelve Keys to Prayer (1999), The Eucharist in the New Testament (1991), The Catholic Bible Study Handbook, commentaries with the Collegeville Bible Commentary, and articles and other books. This book is highly recommended to those interested in prayer, Benedictine spirituality, and monasticism.

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