Father Donald Raila, O.S.B., continues his publications projects with the release of a fifth book, his fourth with Sacred Winds Press. It is entitled Joy in the Life of a Follower of St. Benedict: An Exploration of Joy in Lent and in the Whole of Christian Life. It will be available in September.
“Our world and our Church are in dire need of joy—genuine Christian joy. Besieged with a persistent pandemic, cruel warfare, frequent violent crimes, and all sorts of discouraging reports in the media, people—and even we Christians—may be tempted to throw our hands up in despair, cynicism, and grumbling. It is hard to be joyful amid so many oppressive situations,” Father Donald writes. “And yet amid all this, real Christian joy is possible. This good news is proclaimed by the Gospels, all the Scriptures, and the Rule of Saint Benedict. In particular, the Rule asserts that a monk should offer his sacrifices during Lent with joy. It also prescribes that a monk’s life should be ‘a continuous Lent.’ Therefore, a monk—or any Christian—can and should live in joy at all times. This joy is not a superficial happiness or a succession of pleasant thoughts. It does not depend on circumstances. Rather, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and a virtue, a gift that is ever available and that one can learn to receive with gratitude. It is rooted in the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ and His unconditional love.
“It is hoped that this book will, by God’s grace, help to open some people’s hearts and minds to the joy that is available to them,” Father Donald writes. “Then perhaps this joy may begin to pervade the attitudes of more and more people; begin to flow out into love, peace, patience and the other fruits of the Holy Spirit; and begin to overcome the domain of misery and gloom in our needy world.”
Father Donald’s other books include:
• Nadeem Feroze, Oblate of Saint Benedict, Pakistani, Defender of the Faith, edited with Oblates Lora Jacob and Michael Lo Piccolo.
• The Rule in Bits and Pieces, a collection of more than 140 reflections covering every chapter of the Holy Rule, edited by Father Donald. Using the 1,500-year-old Rule of Saint Benedict, and Benedictine spirituality as his foundation, the book offers words of spiritual encouragement and guidance for persevering through the journey of daily life.
• Lessons from Saint Benedict: Finding Joy in Daily Life, part of a collection of letters written over a 23-year period by Father Donald, who has served as the Archabbey’s Director of Oblates since 1988. The letters were written to Oblates as part of the newsletter of the Oblate office. “As each newsletter came due, I would think of a topic based on a book that I had been reading or on a personal experience that had stirred my heart, and I would find a connection with that reading or event with a lesson from the Rule,” Father Donald said.
• The Study Guide to Lessons from Saint Benedict.
Father Donald’s parents, the late Steve and Adeline Raila, introduced him to the faith and set him on a path of zealous pursuit of learning. His mother, a high school English teacher, taught him to write clearly from an early age.
A native of Amsterdam, New York, Father Donald is a graduate of Wilbur H. Lynch Senior High School there. He earned a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1971, and a master of science degree in mathematics from MIT in 1972. He received a doctorate in applied mathematics from Princeton University in 1975, a master of arts degree in Scriptural theology in 1982 and a master of divinity degree in 1983 from Saint Vincent Seminary.
He made simple profession of vows in 1978 and solemn profession in 1981. He was ordained a priest two years later. He has served as director of the Oblates of Saint Benedict since 1988. Oblates of Saint Benedict are Christian men and women who choose to associate themselves with a Benedictine religious community in order to strengthen their baptismal commitment and enrich their Christian way of life.
He also serves as the assistant director of monastery music, assistant organist and plays the viola and violin as well as the keyboard.