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LISTEN MY SON: St Benedict for Fathers, by Dwight Longenecker

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 Contents - Mar 2007AD2000 March 2007 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: How we can help young East Timorese - Peter Westmore
WYDSYD08: Salesian provincial urges parishes to sponsor Timorese to World Youth Day 2008 - Peter Westmore
News: The Church Around the World
Sandhurst: Goddess worship at Victorian education conference? - Michael Gilchrist
Formation: Continuing growth of Sydney's Catholic Adult Education Centre - AD2000 Report
Catholicism flourishes in South Korea - Richard Stokes
Leadership: The scandal of Australia's anti-life Catholic politicians - Marcel White
'Professional', a l carte Catholicism and its papier mch schools - Andrew T. Kania
Survey of Catholic teachers
The changing panorama of Victoria's historic 'Rupertswood' - Michael Moore
Catholic religion courses and the challenge of relativism - Audrey English
Letters: Reform needed - T. Kalotas
Letters: Catholic schools - Kevin McBride
Letters: Null and void - Fr. G.H. Duggan SM
Letters: Presumption - John H. Cooney
Letters: Suitable wedding attire - Tom and Barbara Phillip
Letters: Modesty of dress - Greg Byrne
Letters: Ten Commandments - Arthur Hartwig
Letters: Abortion counselling - Frank Bellet
Letters: Leadership needed - Anne Lastman
Letters: Human embryos - Rebecca Soares
Letters: Ecumenism? - Peter Davidson
Books: The Glory of These Forty Days, by Fr James Tolhurst - Michael Gilchrist (reviewer)
Books: LISTEN MY SON: St Benedict for Fathers, by Dwight Longenecker - Michael E. Daniel (reviewer)
Books: SEEKING THE ABSOLUTE: The Founders of Christian Monasticism - Michael E. Daniel (reviewer)
Media: The Rosary of the Virgin Mary - 4 DVD or 4 CD set - Michael Gilchrist (reviewer)
Books: Order Books from
Reflection: The Holy Trinity - source of true Christian unity - Fr John O'Neill

St Benedict for Fathers
by Dwight Longenecker

(Gracewing, 2000, 286pp, $24.95. Available from Freedom Publishing)

Reviewed by Michael Daniel

The last couple of decades have witnessed a growing interest in The Rule of St Benedict. Although written for monks, many modern writers have applied the age old wisdom contained in this text to the lives of lay people. In Listen My Son, Dwight Longenecker applies The Rule of St Benedict to fathers.

Both Longenecker in his preface and Lord Alton in the forward to this book argue that our civilisation is witnessing a crisis in fatherhood. We are now into the second generation in which a significant number of children are being raised by their mothers in single parent families (800,000 in Britain alone) with many young fathers lacking a role model as a frame of reference, particularly when seeking to balance the demands of marriage, parenting and work.

Longenecker demonstrates that the wisdom of The Rule translates well into meeting these demands. The three monastic vows - stability, obedience and conversion of life - are at the heart of a marriage, obedience being understood as "a constant attitude of self-sacrificial service" to spouse and children.

Inherent in the ethos of St Benedict is the belief that God is to be found in the circumstances of our lives and thus these circumstances, in the case of a husband marriage and raising children, are an integral aspect of our redemption.

The division of The Rule into daily portions follows the monastic division, such that it is read three times a year. After each portion of the rule, Longenecker has placed a reflection of approximately a page in length. The chief strength of Listen My Son is that the bulk of the advice contained therein can be described as "no nonsense, common sense."

For example, Chapter XLV of The Rule counsels monks to humble themselves when they make a mistake in chanting the Divine Office and seek forgiveness. Applying this counsel to the family situation, Longenecker speaks of the importance of fathers seeking forgiveness from other family members when they have wronged them.

Similarly, St Benedict's insistence in Chapter VII that humility is the core virtue still applies in the twenty-first century in which we are constantly told that "success" and "happiness" are to be equated with owning a raft of material possessions.

Although written primarily for fathers, Listen My Son contains reflections useful for all family members, as well as for those in any position of leadership or mentorship.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 20 No 2 (March 2007), p. 17

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