In the present volume, the same manner of treatment has been preserved as that which characterized the preceding ones, a familiar and colloquial treatment which avoids formality and has been found to help the interest of the reader and to stimulate personal applications. The purpose of these little volumes is not to preach nor exhort, though these are excellen t things in their place, but rather to encourage and stimulate those who are good to become still better, and perhaps to induce others, poor sinners, who have ordinarily no sort of taste for spiritual writings, to get into the way of reading a bit now and then as an antidote against the prevalent worldliness and a gateway to better things. We ask, of all who read them, a prayer for the writer. We are so often busy with the things that perish! The necessities and pre-occupations of our mortal life so often weigh us down and distract our hearts. Our earthly and mortal part, the corruptible body, so tyrannizes over and oppresses our immortal and spiritual soul! Everyone who has any aspirations after heavenly things must experience at times this groaning of the spirit under the necessities of the flesh. The author of the Imitation, who has admirably expressed for all time so many of the motions of men's souls, has given voice also to this groaning. "It is truly a misery," he says, "to live upon earth. The more a man desireth to be spiritual, the more this present life becomes distasteful to him; because he the better understands and more clearly sees the defects of human corruption. For to eat, drink, watch, read, rest, labor, and to be subject to other necessities of nature is truly a great misery and affliction to a devout man, who desires to be released and free from all sin." All literature, even the pagan, is full of this crying out of the spirit against the oppression of the flesh. Sad to say, the body has much the advantage in this constant lusting of the flesh against the spirit. It has a thousand needs which must be swiftly answered, a thousand insistent demands which it takes much time and energy to appease. The body, say the old writers on spiritual themes, is like a crumbling wall which must be incessantly shored up and mended, for it is ceaselessly falling into pieces. "Y ou say that I have a soul," said the Chinese merchant to a missionary, "why should I worry about it'? It gi ves me no pain. I t grows neither cold nor thirsty nor hungry. It makes no demands on my care. Whereas my body requires all the tending I can give it, and in the end it is to perish despite all my care. Why should I spend time, then, caring for my soul, which takes such good care of itself'?" Few Christians would dare to repeat in so many words the saying of this carnal old pagan. Yet, how many are tempted to act on the theory his words express!
Rev Edward F Garesche SJ, Brother Hermenegild TOSF, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1502867036, ISBN 13: 9781502867032