When I first started taking a hard look at converting to Catholicism, I was most struck by “spiritual development,” the idea that we have a soul that needs to be nourished and strengthened. I was always taught that I had a soul that would survive death, but it was always kind of an “all or nothing” affair: your soul is saved at death or it’s not. In either event, the soul didn’t have relevance in this life.
When I started to read about spiritual development, I was blown away. I was blown away by the corollary idea of virtue and the soul. I was blown away by the concept of humility. I was blown away, period.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve assembled a sizable library of spiritual works. I’m guessing I have 50 or so volumes, and I’ve actually read many of them (at least large chunks of many of them). I consider myself well-read when it comes to things spiritual.
But every so often, something fundamental hits me. And after it hits me, I realize that, despite my efforts, I still have gaping holes in my understanding.
It happened to me Monday evening. I received a review copy of Courage in Chaos, Wisdom from Francis de Sales. I was delighted to receive it, but the problem is, I’ve never shown much interest in de Sales. I started reading his Introduction to the Devout Life years ago, but I couldn’t stomach the phrase “weave a little nose gay,” so I put it down and never picked it up again.
But Courage in Chaos looked like a nifty little book, so I started reading … Read the rest