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The Way of the Heart: Letters of Direction by Msgr. D'Hulst

The Way of the Heart: Letters of Direction by Msgr. D'Hulst

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  • ISBN-13: 9781482764246
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Release Date: Mar 13, 2013
  • Pages: 358 pages
  • Dimensions: 0.81 x 9.0 x 6.0 inches


SUPPOSED revelations-often of prejudice and credulity all compact-concerning the inner working of Catholic institutions sometimes find a wide circulation amongst non-Catholics. Should any reader of such exposures" light upon this book, he would find in it not only a striking contrast, but a wholesome corrective. Here a private correspondence, never meant for publication, unexpectedly lifts a corner of the veil which ordinarily shruuds the confidential communications between director and penitent. Thus are discovered a few of the gems which lie so deeply hid in the unfathomable ocean of Catholic spiritual life. The English translator submitted to the Church over ten years ago, and was by temperament, like Mgr. d'Hulst's correspondent, a doubter. When matters reached a climax, he was so tortured for a time by mental and other dilemmas, that he despaired of retaining enough sanity to be accepted as a convert, enough stability to react against any recurring wave of Agnosticism; but, from the day of his reception, unlike the correspondent, he has never once been troubled, amidst many and heavy troubles, with the shadow of a doubt. How variously provided for is individuality in the Church! No two crosses are alike. Though everyone has to bear some kind of cross, and to each is assigned just the type best calculated to put to death what most requires crucifying if he is to ascend to the higher life, yet none need be deterred from entering the fold through fear of being called upon to shoulder a burden too heavy to be borne. Mgr. A. Baudrillart, by whose kind permission the translation has been made, has said by way of Introduction all that can be usefully said to Catholics. Therefore it is enough to add that the translation follows the French all through, except for the omission of a few passages of topical or transitory interest, not easily intelligible to English people, and of one or two repetitions of what had been better put elsewhere. The Index at the end will, it is hoped, facilitate the use of the book for the seasons of the Church's year, and for pursuing particular subjects in which the reader may be specially interested. II WHEN a priest can do any good to a soul," Mgr. d'Hulst used to say: II he must make that his first business." This maxim was his own rule of conduct. "To him," writes M. Octave Larcher, the most shrewd and subtle of his first biographers, "the saving of a soul seemed to possess far more importance than the making of a speech, however eloquent and grand." The direction of souls was, in his eyes, the work par excellence: he himself regarded it as the indispensable ransom of his external and beneficent, but manifold and overwhelming, occupations: it was the really priestly part, the corner held in reserve, of a life devoted to the rush of business. Moreover, he was ready to sacrifice all the rest to it, whenever all the rest came into conflict with a soul's need. Often and often did he say this, as this correspondence shows; and he acted as he spoke. If anyone was dying or dangerously ill, he left everything to go to him, even if it meant travelling three hundred miles. He spent whole days and nights waiting for the providential moment when his priestly action might be brought to bear upon one hitherto hostile, and now about to appear before the Supreme Judge. But to stir his zeal, there was no need of imminent physical danger; moral distress was enough. One day I showed him a letter from a girl of keen intelligence who was losing her faith, and who, through me, was sending him an appeal almost in despair. I hardly dared to hand him the letter, knowing how overwhelmed he was; still I got him to read it.

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