Judith Valente

  • Author, Journalist, Poet. 
  • TV & Radio Producer.
  • Speaker & Retreat Leader. 
  • Benedictine Lay Associate.
  • Environmentalist.


Please check out these recent reviews on Amazon:

Wayne Burns

The Book How to Live by Judith Valente is an excellent and readable book concerning The Rule of St. Benedict.

The Book certainly shares on subjects we are interested in most days if not every day. The subjects are: Happiness, Meaning, and Community. As a Southern Baptist Minister, l did not grow up with the Rule. However, over the years The Rule has been a part of my spiritual journey. I believe you will find it true in your life if you spend time reading How to Live: What the Rule of St. Benedict Teaches us about Happiness, Meaning, and Community.

Laura Dunham, OblSB

Spiritual​ Wisdom and Great Writing!

This book is full of wisdom, both ancient and contemporary. Drawing on the 1500-year-old Rule of Benedict, by which she lives as a Benedictine Oblate, author Judith Valente shares insights on how to live a meaningful, examined life in a society which seems to have lost its way. Valente writes beautifully and honestly about her own life, made richer and fuller through her deep engagement with the Rule and relationships with wise monastic women and men who also follow this sacred path. The reader can relate to her personal struggles and be inspired by the ways she overcomes them with the help of spiritual guidance drawn from the Benedictine way.

Robert J. Raccuglia

Practical, insightful, uplifting

It's a delight to read a book that is so enjoyable and instructive at the same time. As the title suggests, it's instructive on "How to Live." What makes it so enjoyable are Judith Valente's personal anecdotes that will resonate deeply with many readers. Valente convincingly shows that the 6th century Rule of St. Benedict serves as a reliable guide for living a balanced, meaningful life today. We see that Benedict was not interested in imparting ethereal religious platitudes, but in teaching how to live well with others and for others. Valente, an award winning journalist and poet, takes the Rule beyond the walls of the monastery and makes it's lessons accessible to us in the everyday, active world we live in today. We gave a copy to our niece graduating college - a little practical help for the road ahead

Thank you for your interest in my recent book How to Live: What the Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us About Happiness, Meaning, and Community published by Weiser books. If you would like more information about my book, here is a three-page .pdf document with a synopsis, reviews, and one-page excerpt. 

How To Live Media Sheets

In How to Live, Judith Valente explores how The Rule of St. Benedict can change the quality and texture of our lives. Valente suggests that this ancient wisdom offers a way forward from the divisions gripping our country. Her fresh and profound explorations are inspiring and thoughtful as she draws on her experience as a Benedictine oblate and a successful journalism career.

The Rule of St. Benedict arose during an era when a great civilization was threatened by violence, economic forces that favored the wealthy, political leaders that lacked the public’s trust, and rampant xenophobia. Similar to anxieties and frustration during the 6th century, we are living in a time when community needs to emphasized instead of competition, consensus instead of conflict, simplicity instead of complications, silence instead of constant chatter and distraction.

Shirley H. Showalter

Better Than a How-To Book

Judith Valente, like many of us, lives in two worlds. One is the world of award-winning national reporter for the best newspapers and television networks in America. She is also a published poet and seasoned speaker. Her second world has a name -- Benedictine Oblate. An oblate is someone outside of a monastery who chooses to immerse herself or himself as much as possible in the life of the community, taking wisdom from it back out into the world. The community Valente chose is Mount St. Scholastica in Atchinson, Kansas.

Or perhaps Mount St. Scholastica chose her. The turning point in her adult life was arriving at the Mount to give a retreat, having just published a book of poems praising contemplation. She felt like an imposter, recognizing the irony in the fact that she was exhausted from too much travel and too many commitments. In the chapel she came face to face with the man who had balm for her wounds -- a stained-glass portrait of St. Benedict with arms outstretched, offering solace. Around him were Latin words she translated as “at all times, cultivate silence.” Those words restored her soul. Eventually, she became an oblate. “I arrived at Mount St. Scholastica a poetry expert of sorts. I left a student of The Rule.” This book is the fruit of what she learned from St. Benedict’s ancient text – hers is a generous outpouring for our frantic, fragmented, world.

Each chapter of the book begins with a quote from The Rule and focuses on a subject related to the subtitle: happiness, meaning, and community. At the end of the chapter (22 of them, all short enough to be read devotionally) the reader will find a few good questions for personal or communal application. I would recommend the book to small study groups of any kind and to professors teaching classes in vocation either at the college or seminary level.

A few quotes will illustrate Valente’s skill at combining her two worlds: “The emotional tools that The Rule lays out have been more valuable to me than any self-help book or therapy session.” “The true monastic enclosure is the human heart.” “Our work is loving the world.”

One of the delightful passages in the book contrasts the way Dorothy Parker reputedly answered her phone (“What fresh hell is this?”) with the instructions to the porter in The Rule. The porter was an older member of the community who had two choices upon seeing a guest on the doorstep. He could say, “Thanks be to God.” Or “Your blessing, please.” In many ways Judith Valente is an oblate porter, opening the door of the monastery to all of us, believers and skeptics alike. She asks for our blessing as she confesses her own struggles to balance prayer and work (ora et labora), the two foundations of Benedictine community. And to us she offers the blessing of fourteen centuries of practice with The Rule of Saint Benedict made accessible to our time.