Item description for St. Benedict and St. Therese: The Little Rule & the Little Way by Dwight Longenecker...
Overview Two great saints, centuries apart, united in their appreciation of the little things.
Publishers Description St. Benedict and St. Therese stand as two of the monumental figures in the history of the Western Church. Their impact on Christian thought cannot be underestimated, yet never before have they been viewed as spiritual father and daughter. From his "little rule" to her "little way, " these two great saints teach us to find ourselves in the ordinary.
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Studio: Our Sunday Visitor
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.1" Width: 5.28" Height: 0.52" Weight: 0.54 lbs.
Release Date Mar 1, 2002
Publisher Our Sunday Visitor
ISBN 0879739835 ISBN13 9780879739836
Availability 0 units.
More About Dwight Longenecker
Dwight Longenecker is the author of Catholocism, Pure and Simple; More Christianity: Finding the Fullness of the Faith; St. Benedict and St. Therese" and ten other books on the Catholic faith. A former Anglican priest, he was received into communion with the Catholic Church and now serves as a Catholic priest. Fr Longenecker has written articles on theology, apologetics, biblical commentary, and Catholic culture. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina
Reviews - What do customers think about St. Benedict and St. Therese: The Little Rule & the Little Way?
Great Books Sep 7, 2005
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The Greatness of Littleness Nov 4, 2002
Commenting on the communion of saints in heaven and how their various differences of temperament and intellect must ultimately complement one another in some as yet utterly unimaginable variegated whole, St. Therese of Lisieux once said: "Delightful and surprising will be the friendships found there - I am sure of it ... [A] simple little child may be the intimate friend of a patriarch." Dwight Longenecker in his new book, St. Benedict and St. Therese: The Little Rule and the Little Way, sees in this almost casual remark the kernel of a much larger reflection: how the nineteenth-century French Carmelite saint - not much more than a little child herself at the time of her death - might indeed easily be imagined hand-in-hand with the Father of western monasticism, the sixth-century St. Benedict of Nursia; for, despite the apparent incongruence of this unexpected pairing, their "Way" and "Rule" are in essence one. The "little way" of St. Therese of the Child Jesus is really nothing less than an utterly radical faith and dependence on Jesus Christ. "Sanctity," she says in her final days, "does not consist in performing such and such acts; it means being ready at heart to become small and humble in the arms of God, acknowledging our weakness and trusting in his fatherly goodness to the point of audacity." (p. 215) Such conviction, expressed while nearly at the point of death, finds its spiritual complement in St. Benedict's "little Rule for beginners": "Let us then never withdraw from discipleship to him, but persevering in his teachings in the monastery till death, let us share the suffering of Christ through patience, and so deserve also to share in his kingdom." (p. 38)
Longenecker has provided us with the good fruit of his experiment of exploring and interrelating the timeless wisdom of these two immensely influential saints. A Benedictine Oblate himself, he has already shown himself to be an enlightening guide through Benedict's monastic Rule, as applied to family life, in his Listen My Son: St. Benedict for Fathers. Some of his insights are carried over into this new book, but enriched and expanded as they interact with the Carmelite saint's doctrine. (Here, I note in passing, Longenecker summons to mind others of the school of Benedict who have proven themselves able commentators on the writings of great Carmelites: e.g., one thinks of Blessed Columba Marmion's indebtedness to St. Teresa of Avila, and Dom John Chapman's masterful grasp of the concepts of St. John of the Cross.)
Longenecker movingly tells of his own "encounter" with St. Therese while visiting Lisieux; and how later he found that, beneath the conventionally sugary language of her writings, so typical of her place and time and youth, the deceptively sweet "Little Flower" was in actuality a "steel magnolia". Perhaps most worthy of note, as Longenecker stresses, it is really her ordinariness that provided the rich soil for her remarkable holiness, and thus her holiness can be a model for us all. In this she reminds us of the holiness-in-ordinariness implicit to Benedict's Rule. Longenecker writes: "The Benedictine way is a `little way' because, like Therese of Lisieux's little way, it relies on surrender, not superiority; grace, not greatness." (p. 41) Noting how much of the Rule is given to liturgical, disciplinary, and household concerns, he says:
By focusing on the mundane matters of everyday life Benedict points to a deeper truth: that these details are the stuff of reality, and that by paying attention to the details of ordinary life we will find our way to heaven. Someone has said the devil is in the details; Benedict thinks the divine is in the details. (p. 45)
Likewise, St. Therese insists that it is the day to day details in which real, practical sanctity is cultivated. She recognizes this fact as the hidden basis of even the holiest of all earthly homes: "What does me a lot of good when I think of the Holy Family is to imagine a life that was very ordinary ... their life was the same as ours." (p. 214)
Longenecker has also interwoven into the fabric of his own reflections valuable "Thoughts and Prayers" which launch every chapter, as well as the insights of such writers as Chesterton, Balthasar, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and others throughout the text. His own thoughts on humility and spiritual childhood are particularly well worth our prayerful pondering, and, though these might conceivably have been presented by a lesser devotional writer in cloying or sentimental fashion, Longenecker keeps before us the nitty-gritty realities and often painful sacrifices such crucial elements of genuine discipleship demand. We are, throughout this valuable little book, never far from the truth that "the Gospel command to become as little children is a call to return to a state of innocence through the excruciating path of experience." (p. 62)
For those searching for solid Catholic spiritual fare, or for an introduction to either of these saints (or, of course, to both), this book is unreservedly recommended.
inspiring and thought provoking May 18, 2002
St Benedict & St Therese can be read for several reasons and will appeal to a variety of readers. First, it offers an insightful analysis and comparison of the spirituality of Benedict "The Little Rule" and Therese "The Little Way." On another level, it is offers a practical application of their principles for our own spiritual direction. And to add pleasure to delight, it presents both of these in a VERY well-written, sometimes Chestertonian style. Longenecker often surprises you by reaching past the usual spiritual platitudes for the deeper truths. His manner is sometimes humorous, but never trite. His style is often breezy, but never without weight. Here are two examples:
ON MIRACLES: "The main problem for sophisticated people is not that miracles are incredible, but that they are an error in taste. . . . Benedict and Therese call us to follow a little way, and it may be that for humility to begin growing, our grown-up taste must be the first to go. Miracles, relics, sentimentality, pilgrimages, and wonderful answers to prayer lie at the heart of ordinary religion, and since Benedict and Therese are apostles of the ordinary it is fitting that their religion sits happily among the sentimental, the miraculous, and the tasteless." (p.47-48)
ON OBEDIENCE: "Obedience promises freedom, but there is a huge risk because obedience also threatens the most odious form of slavery. Religious people have an unfortunate taste for Pharisaism, and the call to obedience attracts two kinds of Pharisees - those who love to dominate and those who love to be dominated." (p.86)
Anyone who bemoans the meager fare of 90% of what is currently published to inspire and educate the aspiring Christian, should buy this book to ensure that the more worthy 10% will not disappear forever. If you or a friend has a liking for St. Therese or St. Benedict, you don't have to worry that you are buying a repeat of a half dozen other books you've already read. This book contains a fresh and useful approach. I hope to see many titles from this author in the future.