The Divine Fire is Calling Each of Us From Our Hearts

Hello Everyone,

Since Andy has introduced me I will spare your eyes another introduction. Normally I am going to be posting reviews of spiritual books, and then after the initial review post I will provide my personal reflections of subjects covered in the books. I want to do this because I think that spiritual reading is a very important part of any spiritual life, but I also think many of the best modern spiritual works are very difficult to read and written with extremely thick academic language. In my opinion the other group of the best spiritual works are the classics, but most of these are written with old language that is very hard to understand. A misunderstood spiritual book can be dangerous because it can lead very faithful people in the wrong direction in the spiritual life. It also seems that many people just do not have the time to read a lot about the spiritual life. I am far from an expert in this field, but I have received some good advise about this subject in my life. I also enjoy reading books about the spiritual life, and I do it for recreation. I hope to provide helpful pieces of advice from these books I read, but as I said, I am no expert, so do not be afraid to be critical with your comments.

The first book I want to look at is The Fire Within by Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M.. This book, published by Ignatius Press, is a summary of the spirituality of Sts. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. Other than providing a very beautiful summary of these saints' view on the spiritual life, Fr. Dubay argues that the teaching of these two Carmelite saints is no more and no less than the radical spiritual life that Jesus calls each of us to in the Gospel. This book is written as a beginners level theology book, and while the author does not assume any previous knowledge, the vocabulary in the book is difficult to understand if the reader does not have any academic training. This book is just a little over three-hundred pages, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to grow radically closer to God and wants to understand the spiritual teachings of these saints.

One of the strongest points made in The Fire Within is that every single Christian is called to a deep and life changing experience of God. The author thinks that people in modern time often falsely think that there are two options in the spiritual life. One more intense and entire life lived for God that is for the saints, and another which is for the rest of us. This view is not the Gospel. The road to God is a two lane road, but it is not a one-way street. Jesus says that "you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt 5) Each person needs to try to give God everything, or else there is no hope of reaching the perfection to which Christ has called us. I think one of the reasons that w Christians do not do this is that we doubt that God will really fill the space that we leave empty. However, our Carmelite saints write otherwise. They say that as soon as the space is made for God, He fills it, and He fills it overabundantly, even though at times we do not experience God the way we think we should. This will be the subject of my next post.

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    # by Anonymous - July 14, 2007 at 10:42 AM

    Thank you for your review of Father Thomas Dubay's "Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel-On Prayer" This is an excellent book and you underline well the main thrust of all his writings, that holiness is for everyone. Father Dubay is giving his readers not only the true Spirit of the Second Vatican Council, the universal call to holiness, but as you stated, the true Spirit of the Gospel, "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." When you mentioned that the language can at times be difficult in this book, it brought to my mind Father Dubay’s other book on the subject entitled, “Prayer Primer : Igniting a Fire Within” It is a very good introduction to the book “Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel-On Prayer”. Thanks for your review.

    - Ted Martin

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    # by Andrew Reinhart - July 14, 2007 at 4:52 PM

    Warning! Do not go to the webpage The Fire Within. It is a satanist resource or something. If you want to search for this book the full title is “Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel-On Prayer”. Thanks for the tip Ted, “Prayer Primer : Igniting a Fire Within” sounds like a great read. I will have to get myself a copy (once I return to civilization).