The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology is undoubtedly the finest, most comprehensive and best respected one volume treatise on the spiritual life ever written. Clear, thorough, easy to read, orthodox, authoritative, beautifully organized, logically developed, lively and practical, the book covers the whole field of spirituality. Based on Sacred Scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, especially St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as other great Saints and spiritual writers of all ages. Imprimatur.
It is the perfection of the Christian life that constitutes the proper object of ascetical arid mystical Theology.
A God of all goodness vouchsafed to give us not only the natural life of the soul, but also a supernatural life, – the life of grace. This latter is a sharing of God’s very life, as we have shown in our treatise De gratia.
Because this life was given us through the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and because He is its most perfect exemplary cause, we call it rightly the Christian life. All life must needs be perfected, and it is perfected by pursuing its end. Absolute perfection means the actual attainment of that end. This we shall attain only in Heaven. There, through the Beatific Vision and pure love, we shall possess God, and our life will have its complete development. Then we shall be like unto God, because we shall see him as he is. Here on earth, however, the perfection we can reach is only relative. This we attain by ever striving after that intimate union with God that fits us for the Beatific Vision. The present treatise deals with this relative perfection. After an exposition of general principles on the nature of the Christian life, its perfection, the obligation of striving after it, and the general means of arriving thereat, we shall describe the three ways, purgative, illuminative and unitive, along which must go all generous souls thirsting for spiritual advancement