Introduction to the Spiritual Life: Walking the Path of Prayer with Jesus
As a fan of all of Brant Pitre’s books, his online efforts, and his work with others—I was intrigued that he had taken up this subject. I had wondered how he would provide an introduction to a topic so much has been written on.
I was not surprised to find how well his knowledge of the Old Testament and Jewish practices enlightened this book. This is an exciting meld of the discussion of the spiritual life and how to advance in it—mixed in with looking at the development of prayer for the Jewish people. We are given a list of well-selected quotes at the start of a chapter and sometimes also before a significant section in that chapter. For me, there was a lot to highlight and think about.
I especially liked the scriptural exegesis with the source of practices and various etymologies. I find them helpful in seeing past what we have accepted and become immune to when we need to be shaken up and remember what a tremendous gift prayer is – to converse with our very maker.
Most of this book concentrates on the Purgative Way, the first part of the spiritual life. There is a discussion regarding the Illuminative Way and the Unitive Way. Still, this book can be beneficial for beginners and those who want to go deeper into the spiritual life.
I also really liked the various tables showing comparisons in scripture and the parallels that are often intended, but many of us miss. In this regard, his later chapter on “Lectio Divina and Jacob’s Ladder” is phenomenal. I was thinking of these comparisons while at Mass, and not in a distracting way.
There are four sections:
– The Spiritual Path
– Vices and Virtues
– Making Progress
I found, for myself, “Vices and Virtues” to be especially helpful with the distinctions made. Some things I had lumped together or not understood became clarified for me.
This is a book that I will return to. I also bought the Audible version, which I have not yet listened to.
Michael Lofton, who hosts the Reason & Theology podcast, interviewed Brant Pitre regarding this book. Introduction to the Spiritual Life – Dr. Brant Pitre – Reason and Theology
Reason & Theology is a podcast I had only started listening to over the last year, and it has quickly become one of my favorites.