Friday, March 19, 2010

The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life

This book is a good introduction to the three different stages—the Purgative Way, the Illuminative Way, and the Unitive Way—in the spiritual life as they have been experienced and defined by some of the most well-known saints. This particular book presents a summarized condensed version of two other works in particular which cover in great depth the subject of these three aspects of conversion: The Works of St. John of the Cross and The Dialogue of the Seraphic Virgin Catherine of Siena.
Though I haven’t read either of the above-mentioned works in their entirety, I have read The Autobiography of Teresa of Avila, in which she discusses at length these three conversions and her personal experiences with each.      I would recommend that someone who is just delving into this study of the different levels identified as being accessible to all in the spiritual life begin by reading this compact presentation of much longer and more complicated works detailing the intricacies of these three Ways and how they have played out in the lives of certain saints.
This is a handy Cliff Notes kind of version of the longer works cited which explore the long-accepted idea that there is a progression in the spiritual life which requires ongoing conversion and at its ultimate point leads to complete union with God.
I only ran into a couple problems reading this book. I am not well-versed in Latin, and some of the extensive footnotes included were in the original Latin without any translation. The second difficulty arose from the age of the particular volume of the book I read. The binding wasn’t very good, so several sections and pages kept coming loose. I imagine that a recent copy wouldn’t have such a tendency to come unglued.
Anyone serious about the study of the progression to the Unitive Way should definitely read this book then move onto the more in-depth studies of these conversions.
You can purchase this book here.  I wrote this review of The Three Conversions In The Spiritual Life for the Tiber River Blogger Review program.  Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.  I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.
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