Monday 8 October 2018

Overcoming Lukewarmness Healing Your Soul's Sadness - Francis Fernandez-Carvajal

Overcoming Lukewarmness: Healing Your Soul's Sadness
Francis Fernandez-Carvajal
Scepter Publishers
ISBN 9781594171437

Previously Published as:

Lukewarmness: The Devil in Disguise
Francis Carvajal
Scepter Publishers
ISBN 9789711170516
Sinag Tala
ISBN 9789715540896

I owned the first edition of this book called, ‘Lukewarmness: The Devil in Disguise’ but lent it out and never got around to replacing it. The revised edition is called ‘Overcoming Lukewarmness: Healing Your Soul's Sadness’ and is an incredible read. Occasionally when I read a book, especially one I have had a while, or known about for a while, I really regret not having read it earlier. This is one of those times. Even while I was reading it, I could not but wish I had read it sooner. The forward of the revised edition of this book states:

“Every book has a small history. This one was born of a meditation during a few days of spiritual retreat. It appeared later, enlarged, with the title Lukewarmness. That was in 1978. Since then, the original Spanish edition has reached its twelfth printing.

Now, having wholly updated it with the experience of more than a few years, it appears with a new title: Overcoming Lukewarmness: Healing Your Soul’s Sadness. Lukewarmness is a pathology of love that puts the ideals of the Christian to sleep. It can be found, hidden, close to and constantly stalking the life of our first surrender, the joyful following of Jesus, that it tries to destroy or at least hinder.

Lukewarmness is, precisely, the great hidden enemy of that love, aging and destroying it, though that may be difficult to notice, particularly at the beginning. It is like those silent diseases that little by little extend into the whole organism, while the infected man barely notices his condition until it is pervasive. To lukewarmness we can apply words of an Italian poet describing a mortally wounded soldier: andava camminando ed era morto—he was walking and was dead.”

There are so many great reads, and so many books I want to read. And yet my first thought upon finishing this book, was that I will need to read it again. The chapters in this book are:

1. Created for Happiness
2. To Follow Jesus
3. Shortsighted and “Tired”: Lukewarmness
4. When Everything Is Hard
5. I Seek Your Face
6. Love and Little Things
7. The Wide Road
8. With the Light of Faith
9. Venial Sins and Lukewarmness
10. The Daughters of Lukewarmness
11. The Love of God and of Others
12. Who Fixes Us?
13. Embers

This book is not the work of one man. Francis Fernandez-Carvajal draws extensively from the Catechism, the writings of the popes and the saints both ancient and modern. A few of the paragraphs that really stuck with me are

“The real cause of sadness isn’t so much external problems as interior ones—sin of any kind and that special crisis of the theological virtues called indifference, suffered by the lukewarm soul. A Christian with this sickness loses joy little by little, his happiness of heart slips away almost without his realizing it, and his soul ages.”

“Lukewarmness always supposes a crisis of hope, losing heart, along with a crisis of faith and love. For the lukewarm person, Christ is a vague figure, insubstantial, with features poorly defined. The soul does not dare to make the generous affirmations of former days. Less is enough.”

“Lukewarmness arises from prolonged neglect in the interior life. It is always preceded by numerous small unfaithful acts. Unless these are repented of, the guilt weighs heavily on the relationship of such a soul with God.”

“The lukewarm man little by little forces God from his heart and grows solitary. Then he must flee from himself, do things so as to feel useful. Often he plunges into activities with all his strength, as if his very life depended on it.”

This book was recommended to me again recently while on retreat. I already had the book but not got around to reading it. There have been times my spiritual life has become arid, and spiritually lethargic. This book gives us tools to counter that. In the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks very strongly about lukewarness. And this book helps us understand why. 

The author of this book wrote the incredible In Conversation with God series, a seven-volume set that I have been read for almost 30 years now. His books are available in English published under the names, Francis Fernandez-Carvajal, Francis Carvajal, Francis Fernandez, and Francis Fernandez Carvajal but no matter what name they are published under these books are invaluable for spiritual growth. And this one deals with a topic that all Christians should be concerned about in today’s culture, both within and outside the church.

This is one of the best Catholic books I have read in the last few years, and I give it my highest recommendation.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Sacrament of Confession 
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Faith
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Fortitude 

In Conversation with God:

In Conversation with God eBooks:
Volume 1 Part 1 Advent 
Volume 1 Part 2 Christmas and Epiphany
Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week
Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide
Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13-18
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28
Volume 5 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 29-34
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June
Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feats July -September
Volume 7 Part 2 Special Feats October -December

Books by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:


Unknown said...

Gostaria de saber se esse livro tem tradução em português. Obrigada.

Steven R. McEvoy said...

Vou investigar, mas sei que o original era espanhol.