Monday, May 30, 2011

Quick Review: Listen My Son

Listen My Son: St. Benedict for FathersListen My Son: St. Benedict for Fathers by Dwight Longenecker

This is a book of daily meditations, a style I usually don't like because of the daily commitment and the typical brevity of the reflections in such books. I'm not good with finding a regular time in the day for the reading (which is a little ridiculous since it takes no more than five minutes) and in other books I've found the reflections either too vague or too insipid. Someone recommended this book to me, so I am giving it a go. I'm about a month into it and find it delightful and edifying.

The author uses the Rule of St. Benedict, a 1500 year old book written by the founder of western monasticism, to draw a parallel between being the head of a monastery and the head of a family. Each day, he quotes a paragraph or two of St. Benedict and then comments on the writing and how it applies to fathers of families today. The content is refreshingly concrete and inspiring.

For example, early on Benedict discusses the four types of monks: those who live in community in a monastery under an abbot, those who live alone as a hermit after preparation in a monastery, those who live on their own under their own spiritual direction (really bad), and those who wander from monastery to monastery submitting to no rule but their own will (even worse). The author applies this to a father's life by looking at how most people need to be part of a community that nurtures them in faith, even when it might seem boring or rote. He also discusses how "church shopping" is really destructive of genuine faith, because one's own judgment becomes the measure of what's best and the form of worship becomes more important than the content.

The meditations last for about four months, with recommended starting dates of May 2, September 1 or January 1. I'll probably complete this review in September.

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