Guidance in Spiritual Direction


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Back in 1958, Father Edward J. Hogan of St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore observed, “There are countless souls ripe for sanctity, full of generosity and desire, and needing only the expert advice of a divinely ordained doctor of souls to advance toward sainthood. Yet how often they remain unattended!”

Why would any Catholic priest hesitate to reap such rich harvest of potential saints? Father Hogan has the answer.

Many priests, he writes, suffer from “a feeling of inadequacy and of lack of the requisite knowledge for so sensitive an undertaking.”

That’s where the famed Father Charles Hugo Doyle steps in. He guided a generation of priests in the time-tested methods of spiritual direction. In today’s Church, Fr. Doyle can stand in as a guide for lay Catholics who want to progress in holiness but have yet to find their own spiritual director.

In one volume Father Doyle lays out the classic principles of Catholic spirituality, deriving his own advice from great saints who were also great spiritual directors:
St. Paul * St. Augustine * St. Francis de Sales * St. Teresa of Avila * St. Ignatius Loyola * St. Therese of Lisieux * St. Vincent Ferrer * St. Alphonsus Liguori * St. Bernard * St. Catherine of Siena * St. John of the Cross * St. Gregory the Great * St. Thomas Aquinas * St. Peter Julian Emyard * St. Vincent de Paul * St. Bonaventure

How to advance in holiness

Maintain a devotional spirit all day long by brief prayers and frequent consecrations of body and soul to God
Believe that by God’s grace and the exercise of your own will you can become holy
Understand the differences between pious souls and fervent souls
Learn why identification with Christ is better than imitation of Christ
How to go about your tedious daily duties
How the purgative way helps beginners in spiritual development overcome their passions
Recognize the signs that you have arrived at the second level, the “illuminative” way
The “unative” way — the crown of the spiritual life — and how you can achieve it
How to make use of the instruments of perfection
The stumbling blocks to genuine meditation
Tell-tale signs of a right intention
2 greatest obstacles to acquiring the virtue of hope
3 essential preparations before going to Confession and Communion
4 ways to conquer self-will
5 signs of perfect obedience
7 brief prayers that can increase your devotion at Mass
8 hints that you are growing in holiness
10 ways to advance in virtue
“Degrees of contemplation”
The devotional practices which can increase your love for Our Lady
Ways the devil tries to disrupt spiritual progress
How to battle the Seven Deadly Sins — take them on , one at a time, beginning with your most grievous vice
The danger of scruples and how to overcome them
Why beginners should avoid reading spiritually dangerous or controversial writings
Why small acts of self-sacrifice and mortification can bring great graces to your soul
Proven methods that foster and deepen the virtue of faith
How to replace fear with childlike trust and confidence in God
Practical ways to grow in love for God and our neighbor
Cardinal Merry del Val’s prayer for humility
Why choosing a topic for meditation before bedtime and “sleeping on it” will make your contemplation the next day more fruitful
How meditating daily can ward off sin
The First Step Toward Holiness

Christ says to each one of us: “My son, give me your heart that in you and through you, in a life of union, I may love, or, rather we may love the Father ardently: give me your mind, your eyes, your hands, your whole being. I wish, in you and by you, to live as it were a second life wholly of love….” Ponder well this thought. It can change your life and whenever and wherever it is preached and taught it will change other lives. It is atomic in its force! In every prayer we say, in every action we perform, in every suffering we endure, in our every act of love, we must come to realize that we are a member of Christ and that Christ wishes still to pray, act, love, and suffer in us. As a natural consequence, we shall instinctively try to rid ourselves of our vices and faults, in order to clothe ourselves with the mind and desires which animated Christ in His actions, sufferings and prayers during His life on earth. This is what St. Paul had in mind when he told his followers to: “Put ye on Jesus Christ.”

“Of great value to serious-minded priests, religious, or laymen who would know more about the higher form of prayer.” —Theological Studies

“[Father Doyle] has gathered together the thought and teaching of all the masters of spirituality, sometimes quoting, sometimes summarizing, yet succeeding in presenting this mass of ascetical doctrine in a logical sequence.” —The Priest



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