of my favorite parts of G.K. “Chesterton’s Saint Thomas Aquinas:
The Dumb Ox” is when he does comparisons between St. Thomas Aquinas and
and St. Francis. I thought it was a very good tool in seeing
both saints and to understand them better. A couple of years
I picked up a book called St. Benedict & St. Therese: The
Rule and the Little Way that did this comparison with these
saints and Doctors of the Church. I use to use it at times
Eucharistic adoration for spiritual reading, but unfortunately manged
to lose the book. Thankfully the author, Fr. Dwight
supplied me with a new copy for a review.
first glance when you think of either saint you don’t really make any
comparisons between them in your mind. They seem far apart
in time, spirituality, and in the way they lived their lives when you
casually think of
them. There are always commonalities in the saints since they
are reflecting Jesus in the first place, but their reflection like a
mirror ball often shows us different aspects. Fr. Dwight
Longenecker is really a wonderful writer and I so enjoyed his
comparisons of these two saints. Being the thorough-going
Chestertonian that he is he also has the ability to use paradox in a
instructive way and to switch around ideas in a sentence that really
makes you stop and think. He will write something that is the
equivalent of a speed bump forcing you to slow down and mull over what
was just written.
I have read a lot of books on St. Therese and am quite familiar with
her Story of a Soul, yet this book could make me see her again fresh by
seeing her with St. Benedict. I had only a casual
familiarity with St. Benedict knowing his basic story, but not being
familiar with his rule that has lasted in practice to the present day.
The discussion of these two saints who are as he describes
saints of an ordinary way is really quite fascinating. Large
than life St. Benedict really understood the ordinary way to sainthood
was not great actions, but paying attention to the ordinary details of
everyday life. Parts of his rule might appear as something
written by a micro-manager instead of something written to firmly
anchor his monks in the life of prayer. He was able to
incorporate what had already been tested with his own ideas which have
stood the test of time. This idea of course fits in perfectly
with St. Therese’s Little Way which is paved with ordinary acts.
We often think of the great saints in terms of perhaps their
martyrdom or other events in their lives and forget about the
daily life that got them their. Their daily response to grace
is left out of the picture.
I really wish I had the ability to write the review this book deserves I do
believe that this
book will take you deeper into the spiritual life of these two saints
regardless of how well you were acquainted with them before.
* Fr. Longenecker will be conducting a pilgrimage/retreat in France
that will explore these two saints.
Fr. Longenecker’s blog is here.