Monday 14 September 2020

The Virtues of Holiness - Juan Luis Lorda - The Basics of Spiritual Struggle

The Virtues of Holiness: 
The Basics of Spiritual Struggle
Juan Luis Lorda 
Juan Luis Lorda Iñarra
ISBN 9781594170904
eISBN 9781594171338
ASIN B0045Y26K4

This book is an amazing read. It is a book I really needed to read, and one I greatly benefited from reading. And I certain the same will be true for you also. This is a book all Christians would benefit from read. And a book that should be in all Catholic school and church libraries. The description of this book is:

“The Virtues of Holiness offers a road-map for navigating our everyday activities: work, family, leisure pursuits. It shows how we can reach the heights of Christian life in and through these activities. For many people this is unfamiliar territory, and the author has written this book just for them. Fr. Lorda offers his readers a daily spiritual plan and describes strategies for gaining the virtues needed for following Christ closely. The next steps are familiarity with the life of Christ and developing a deep interior relationship with Him. Although its path is challenging, The Virtues of Holiness leaves no doubt that the struggle to stay close to Christ lies within the reach of every Christian. The author draws on a wide range of Christian apologists from the Church Fathers to St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as the 16th century Spanish mystics, John of Avila, John of the Cross, and Teresa of Avila. The result is a book that is accessible to readers of all ages, and especially young believers.”

And the virtues and mysteries Lorda examines are:

Part I Virtues
1. The Sense of the Presence of God
2. Self-Knowledge
3. The Ascetical Struggle
4. Fortitude
5. Detachment
6. Chastity
7. Humility
8. Simplicity
9. Cheerfulness
10. Prudence
11. Integrity
12. Living for Others
13. Work

Part II Mysteries
14. Identification with Christ
15. Love of God
16. Prayer
17. The Eucharist
18. The Sense of Sin
19. Confession
20. Death and Life
21. Love for the Church
22. Mary, the Mother of God

It was nearly impossible to put this book down. We are informed in the forward that:

“The spiritual life—or asceticism, it is sometimes called—is an experience of the life of faith that the Church has been accumulating and transmitting from the beginning. This book contains what I have received from others, especially the founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaría Escrivá. The rest comes from classical authors—Fathers of the Church, especially St. Gregory of Nyssa (d. ca. 386), Sts. Augustine and Cassian (d. 430 and 435), St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), and St. Gregory the Great (d. 604)—and writers such as St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of Avila, and St. John of the Cross (all sixteenth century), St. Francis de Sales (d. 1622), and many others. Among more recent authors I have made use of the writings of John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Ronald Knox, Romano Guardini, and Josef Pieper; I also owe something to spiritual writers such as Eugene Boylan, Georges Chevrot, and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, among others.”

And further on we are told:

“This book is divided into two parts. The first deals with the manner of acquiring virtues. The second presents more directly some features of the life of Jesus that a Christian should conscientiously try to imitate.”

This volume is not a step by step guide. Do these 6 things and grow in virtue. It is an examination of the virtues through the lives and writings of saints and other Christians. This book is easy to read. Any high school student could engage with the text. But it is not just a book to be read and put down. It is to be prayed over. To be worked through again. To be learned and lived. This is a book I wish I had read in my teens, even my twenties, or thirties. I would be a much better man today if I had. But I am starting where I am and working on living it out.

At the beginning of the second part of the book we are told:

“This second part of the book concerns aspects of the spiritual life more closely related to the action of God’s grace. The first chapter deals with the central mystery of grace, the presence in us of the Holy Spirit and “Identification with Christ.” From this arises the way of living described in the next chapter, “Love of God.””

This book was so good that I already put it back in my 'to be read pile' to be read again. And also picked up the only other book by Lorda available in English. I will state again this is an indispensable volume. I strongly encourage you to give it a read. I guarantee your life will not be the same!  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Juan Luis Lorda:
Beyond Good Intentions: The Art of Christian Living

And he has many other books available in Spanish.

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