February 4, 2013
What shall I do for Lenten spiritual reading? If you’re like me you want to have your ducks lined up before Ash Wednesday. I’ve been turning over in my head any number of titles, but one kept clanging in my head.
Sunday at the chapel bookstore to my delight I found My Way of Life: Pocket edition of St. Thomas; the Summa Simplified for Everyone, © 1952 by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood and written by the great Dominican spiritual writer of the mid twentieth century, Father Walter Farrell, O.P., S.T.M., who unfortunately died after completing Part I. Martin J. Healey, Professor of Dogmatic Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y. wrote parts II and III. All of it is worthy and wonderful as an explanation of central Catholic teaching.
Wait! Don’t run away! This isn’t the Summa as St. Thomas wrote it with all his erudition, but a suitable book for the ordinary person to nibble at paragraph by paragraph on breaks, at lunchtime, while waiting at the doctor’s or dentist’s office, during a quick visit to the Blessed Sacrament, at bedtime just before turning out the light, or on a lazy afternoon.
This is one of the famous Pocket Editions the Confraternity put out for the ordinary person to help him become closer to God. I remember the title from my childhood and was enthused to find it again. You can’t go wrong with this kind of prose expressing the truths St. Thomas so ably argued many centuries ago.
Life must be lived, even by those who cannot find the courage to face it. In the living of it, every mind must meet the rebuff of mystery. To some men this will be an exultant challenge: that so much can be known and truth not be exhausted, that so much is still to be sought, that truth is not an ocean to be contained in the pool of the human mind. To others, this is a humiliation not to be borne; for it marks out sharply the limits of our proud minds. In the living of life, every mind must face the unyielding rock of reality, of a truth that does not bend to our whim or fantasy, of the rule that measures the life and mind of a man.
In the living of life, every human heart must see problems awful with finality. There are the obvious problems of death, marriage, the priesthood, religious vows, all unutterably final. But there are, too, the day to day, or rather the moment to moment choices of heaven or hell. Before every human heart that has ever beat out its allotted measures, the dare of goals as high as God Himself was tossed down: to be accepted, or to be fled from in terror.
Beautiful, virile writing that makes a person think, ponder, and ask the Holy Spirit for further enlightenment. Plenty in here about happiness and virtue, angels, demons, the sacraments, the end of life and the beginning of eternity, all comprehensible to an average person. In the back is an outline of the book as well as an index. I plan to use this not only for spiritual reading, but as another resource for writing.
If you have been intimidated by the actual Summa Theologica of St. Thomas or gotten frustrated trying to wade through the style yet have wanted a practical application for daily life, this book is for you. And its attribute of fitting conveniently into a pocket or purse is one more reason to own it. It’s a go anywhere read anytime little book to help make us saints.
Click on the book title for the link to Amazon.
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R. Now and forever!
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