William Johnston–an authority on fourteenth century spirituality and specifically on the writings of this unknown author–provides a substantive and accessible introduction detailing what is known about the history of this text and its relevance throughout the ages. Also included here is the author’s other principal work, The Book of Privy Counseling–a short and moving text on the way to enlightenment through a total loss of self and consciousness only of the divine.
For more than 250 years, this simple classic of inspiration has guided readers of all faiths to the open-hearted acceptance of God’s will that is the sure path to serenity, happiness, and spiritual peace.
“A spiritual classic of the first order… a book for all those who truly seek God.” –Dom David Knowles
“Father de Caussade has a wonderful way of encouraging the doubtful, of nurturing the personal surrender that is so much a part of the development of faith. The book is a mystery of its own — and is definitely not for Christians only.” –Rabbi Joshua Chasan
“Abandonment to Divine Providence is a classic perhaps more necessary now than ever before. It’s a little book that rightly rejects the spirituality of fear and trembling (and the modern preoccupation with dreary self-absorption) in favor of an abiding trust in God’s active benevolence. This is a work one reads again and again, always with gratitude and astonishment.” –Donald Spoto, Author of Blue Angel and The Dark Side of Genius
There is today a dramatic reexamination of structure, authority, dogma — indeed, every aspect of the life of the Church is held up to scrutiny. Welcoming this as a sign of vitality, Avery Dulles has carefully studied the writings of contemporary Protestant and Catholic ecclesiologists and sifted out six major approaches, or “models,” through which the Church’s character can be understood: as Institution, Mystical Communion, Sacrament, Herald, Servant, and, in a recent addition to the book, as Community of Disciples. A balanced theology, he concludes, must incorporate the major affirmations of each. “The method of models or types,” observes Cardinal Dulles, “can have great value in helping people to get beyond the limitations of their own particular outlook and to enter into fruitful conversation with others… Such conversation is obviously essential if ecumenism is to get beyond its present impasses.”
This new edition includes a new Appendix and Preface by the author.
Chesterton’s timeless exploration of the essentials of Christian faith and of his pilgrimage to belief (more than 750,000 copies sold in the Image edition) is now reissued.
For G.K. Chesterton, orthodoxy carries us into the land of romance, right action, and revolution. In Orthodoxy, a classic in religious autobiography, he tells of his pilgrimage there by way of the doctrines of Christianity set out in the Apostles’ Creed.
Where science seeks to explain all things in terms of calculation and necessary law, Chesterton argues on behalf of the Christian doctrines of mystery and free will. Sanity, he says, belongs to the poet who accepts the romance and drama of these beliefs rather than to the logician who does not. This sanity is not static. It does not mean merely learning the right doctrines and then lapsing into a refined meditation on them. Chesterton dismisses such an inactive belief as “the greatest disaster of the nineteenth century.” For him, right thinking is a waste without right action.
For Chesterton the populist, political ction often spells revolution. He discovers in the doctrines of original sin and the divinity of Christ ever-present seedbeds of revolt in the face of the tyrannies of money and power.
Of all of Teresa of Avila’s works, The Way of Perfection is the most easily understood. Written at the height of the controversy surrounding the reforms Teresa instituted in the Carmelite order, it instructed the nuns in the practice of prayer. Teresa discusses the three essentials of a prayer-filled life — fraternal love, detachment from material things, and true humility. Her counsels on these are the fruit of her practical experience. The book develops these ideas and takes up directly the matters of prayer and contemplation. Teresa gives various maxims for the practice of prayer and concludes the book with her masterful and impassioned version of the Lord’s Prayer. “How is it that Thou canst give us so much with Thy first word?” she says of the “Our” at the beginning of that prayer.
The simple and practical nature of this mystical classic will appeal to all who seek a life of wholeness.
Francis of Assisi is, after Mary of Nazareth, the greatest saint in the Christian calendar, and one of the most influential men in the whole of human history. By universal acclaim, this biography by G. K. Chesterton is considered the best appreciation of Francis’s life–the one that gets to the heart of the matter.
For Chesterton, Francis is a great paradoxical figure, a man who loved women but vowed himself to chastity; an artist who loved the pleasures of the natural world as few have loved them, but vowed himself to the most austere poverty, stripping himself naked in the public square so all could see that he had renounced his worldly goods; a clown who stood on his head in order to see the world aright. Chesterton gives us Francis in his world-the riotously colorful world of the High Middle Ages, a world with more pageantry and romance than we have seen before or since. Here is the Francis who tried to end the Crusades by talking to the Saracens, and who interceded with the emperor on behalf of the birds. Here is the Francis who inspired a revolution in art that began with Giotto and a revolution in poetry that began with Dante. Here is the Francis who prayed and danced with pagan abandon, who talked to animals, who invented the creche.
Few spiritual figures have touched as many readers in the past century as Saint Therese of Lisieux, the saint popularly known as the Little Flower. Though she was only twenty-four years old when she died, her writings have had tremendous impact, making her one of the most popular spiritual writers in the twentieth century. Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, has been a source of priceless inspiration ever since it was written, and has become the great spiritual bestseller of our time. A hundred years after her death in 1897, millions of copies have spread throughout the world and it has been translated into more than fifty languages.
The reason for the continued success of her autobiography is, quite simply, that it is unlike any work of devotion and spiritual insight ever written. Once it is read, it cannot be forgotten. Its appeal across cultures and generations has been extensive, moving both peasants and popes, men and women, young and old—people of every kind of intelligence and education succumb to its spell. Yet is not a conventional work of religious devotion; instead, it is in many ways a supernatural book. In the words of Pope Pius XI, Saint Therese “attained the knowledge of supernatural things in such abundant measure that she was able to point out the sure way of salvation to others,” and it is especially in The Story of a Soul that she has pointed out this sure way to the generations that have followed her. As Therese herself said of this book just prior to her death, “What I have written will do a lot of good. It will make the kindness of God better known.”
This enduring work of Russian spirituality has charmed countless people with its tale of a nineteenth-century peasant’s quest for the secret of prayer. Readers follow this anonymous pilgrim as he treks over the Steppes in search of the answer to the one compelling question: How does one pray constantly? Through his journeys, and under the tutelage of a spiritual father, he becomes gradually more open to the promptings of God, and sees joy and plenty wherever he goes. Ultimately, he discovers the different meanings and methods of prayer as he travels to his ultimate destination, Jerusalem.
The Way of a Pilgrim is a humble story ripe for renewed appreciation today. The recent changes in Russia have revealed the great religious traditions of that land, and this work, freshly translated for modern times, is among the finest examples of those centuries-old traditions.
G.K. Chesterton’s brilliant sketch of the life and thought of Thomas Aquinas is as relevant today as when it was published in 1933. Then it earned the praise of such distinguished writers as Etienne Gilson, Jacques Martain, and Anton Pegis as the best book ever written on the great thirteenth-century Dominican. Today Chesterton’s classic stands poised to reveal Thomas to a new generation.
Chesterton’s Aquinas is a man of mystery. Born into a noble Neapolitan family, Thomas chose the life of a mendicant friar. Lumbering and shy — his classmates dubbed him “the Dumb Ox” — he led a revolution in Christian thought. Possessed of the rarest brilliance, he found the highest truth in the humblest object. Having spent his life amid the vast intricacies of reason, he asked on his deathbed to have read aloud the Song of Songs, the most passionate book in the Bible.
As Albert the Great, Thomas’s teacher, predicted, the Dumb Ox has bellowed down the ages to our own day. Chesterton’s book will enlighten those who would consign Thomas to the obscurity of medieval times. It will confound those who would use Thomas to bolster arid schemes of Christian rationalism. Rather, it will introduce the wondrous mystery of the man who, after a life of unparalleled genius, was seized by a vision of the Unknown and said, “I can write no more. I have seen things which make all my writings like straw.”
A cornerstone book on mystical theology, Interior Castle describes the seven stages of union with God. Using everyday language to explain difficult theological concepts, Teresa of Avila compares the contemplative life to a castle with seven chambers. Tracing the passage of the soul through each successive chamber, she draws a powerful picture of the path toward spiritual perfection. It is the most sublime and mature of Teresa’s works, offering profound and inspiring reflections on such subjects as self-knowledge, humility, detachment, and suffering.
One of the most celebrated works on mystical theology in existence, as timely today as when St. Teresa of Avila wrote it centuries ago, this is a treasury of unforgettable maxims on self-knowledge and fulfillment.
Francis de Sales’s Introduction to the Devout Life has remained a uniquely accessible and relevant treasure of devotion for nearly four hundred years. As Bishop of Geneva in the first quarter of the sevenjteenth century, Francis de Sales saw to the spiritual needs of everyone from the poorest peasants to court ladies. The desire to be closer to God that he found in people from all levels of society led him to compile these instructions on how to live in Christ. Francis’s compassionate Introduction leads the reader through practical ways of attaining a devout life without renouncing the world and offers prayers and meditations to strengthen devotion in the face of temptation and hardship.
Life and Holiness is Thomas Merton’s classic text on incorporating spirituality into everyday life. Merton here makes clear that he was a monk who knew the world. Of course, Merton lived a secular life until he became a Trappist monk in his late twenties, but even in the monastery he was deeply engaged in the questions of his day. In this succinct and readily accessible work, he offers compelling thoughts on what it means to be holy in the face of the anxieties of the modern age.
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, one of the great masterpieces of the Christian canon, today continues to offer some of the most accessible and insightful guidance for going on retreat — whether as a part of a group or by oneself. Based on the rich fruit of St. Ignatius’ own meditations and practice, this guide for spiritual perfection has been treasured and faithfully used for centuries by members of the saint’s Jesuit order and by millions more.
Divided into four weeks of reflections and four key meditations — on the Kingdom of God, the Two Standards (of Christ and Satan), the Three Classes of Men, and the Three Modes of Humility — the whole retreat has at its center the emulation of Christ. Retreat masters, retreatants, and readers will benefit particualrly from Anthony Mottola’s new translation, which renders the timeless masterpiece into language both accessible and faithful to St. Ignatius’ original expression and spirit.
The Exercises have been universally recognized as a brilliant and inspired guide to the development of a deeper Christian spirituality ever since St. Ignatius completed them in 1533. Great saints — as well as countless religious and lay people — have been spiritually shaped through their dedicated use. This four-week system of meditation and prayer continues to be the very backbone of Ignatian retreats, where earnest seekers come to examine their lives, contemplate the future, face decisions, and revitalize their souls. Both religious and lay people make Ignatian retreats to renew their Christian dedication and enthusiasm, but even those who cannot make such retreats have profited greatly from a careful reading of the Exercises.
Heartfelt, incisive, and timeless, The Confessions of Saint Augustine has captivated readers for more than fifteen hundred years. Retelling the story of his long struggle with faith and ultimate conversion — the first such spiritual memoir ever recorded — Saint Augustine traces a story of sin, regret, and redemption that is both deeply personal and, at the same time, universal.
Starting with his early life, education, and youthful indiscretions, and following his ascent to influence as a teacher of rhetoric in Hippo, Rome, and Milan, Augustine is brutally honest about his proud and amibitious youth. In time, his early loves grow cold and the luster of wordly success fades, leaving him filled with a sense of inner absence, until a movement toward Christian faith takes hold, eventually leading to conversion and the flourishing of a new life. Philosophically and theologically brilliant, sincere in its feeling, and both grounded in history and strikingly contemporary in its resonance, The Confessions of Saint Augustine is a timeless classic that will persist as long as humanity continues to long for meaning in life and peace of soul.
No book except the Bible itself had a greater influence on the Middle Ages than City of God. Since medieval Europe was the cradle of today’s Western civilization, this work by consequence is vital for understanding our world and how it came into being. Saint Augustine is often regardarded as the most influential Christian thinker after Saint Paul, and City of God is his materpiece, a cast synthesis of religious and secular knowledge. It began as a reply to the charge that Christian otherworldiness was causing the decline of the Roman Empire. Augustine produced a wealth of evidence to prove that paganism bore within itself the seeds of its own destruction. Then he proceeded to his larger theme, a cosmic interpretation of in terms of the struggle between good and evilL the City of God in conflict with the Earthly City or the City of the Devil. This, the first serious attempt at a philosophy of history, was to have incalculable influence in forming the Western mind on the relations of church and state, and on the Christian’s place in the temporal order. The original City of God contained twenty-two books and filles three regular-sized volumes. This edition has been skillfully abridged for the intelligent general reader by Vernon J. Bourke, author of Augustine’s Quest for Wisdom, making the heart of this monumental work available to a wide audience.