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Seeking Spiritual Direction: How to Grow the Divine Life Within [Paperback]

Thomas DuBay
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 301 pages
  • Publisher: Franciscan Media (Jan 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892838108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892838103
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 992,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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A FEW YEARS AGO two blind men crossed paths in a drizzle on a neighborhood street in Falkirk, Scotland. Read the first page
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic wisdom 25 July 2001
Format:Paperback
Father Dubay's presentation, refreshing in its "gospel truth" rather than trendy psychology or New Age gruel, is a brilliant exposition of ascetic theology, flavoured with deep insight and a "working knowledge" of true Christian charity.
Father Dubay works from extensive experience, but his book is always solidly grounded on the Scriptures and the writings of the classic spiritual guides. He does not omit the "unpopular" notions(obedience, informed conscience, etc.) , and, relating them to the visions of Vatican II, makes it clear that the Church has never denied their vitality.
The text is not without certain drawbacks. Though the "question and answer" format is functional, it can be rather trying when the questions do not match one's own. Certain references, particularly to "fidelity to the magisterium" which is especially emphasised, and to such matters as contraception or religious garb, may lead non-Catholics (and many RCs) to close the book prematurely. I would suggest that readers explore the contents in their entirety, for there is much rich material which should enrich anyone seeking to grow in the spiritual life.
This is the "genuine article" - true ascetic theology. It is not a handbook for a weekend read that sets one to believing s/he has reached the heights of sanctity in a few days. My regret is that it was not available twenty years earlier.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
116 of 118 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Catholic spirituality for Non-Catholics 3 Sep 2002
By David Gustafson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
SEEKING SPIRITUAL DIRECTION is a thorough-goingly Roman Catholic book that may be surprisingly accessible to non-Catholic Evangelicals (like myself).
Dubay fervently believes that contemplation (not voluntary "meditation" but divinely infused "contemplation") is the proper goal of every Christian, not just of an elite corps of mystics, but he is quite clear that the road to holiness is just as narrow as Jesus said it would be, and that few find it. He offers nothing like Spiritual Victory in 3 Easy Steps, but he does set out a notion of the spiritual life that is surprisingly orderly. From the Catholic tradition, he discerns that the Holy Spirit works in definite ways, and that spiritual direction involves helping the directee to remove impediments to the Spirit's work. I get the impression that Dubay is a humble person but knows his craft well and is entitled to confident judgments about these things. Reading his books gives me the strong feeling that there's more real "science" to this field than I would have supposed.
Dubay believes that having a spiritual director is critical for growth in Christ, but he acknowledges that finding a spiritual director (especially one competent by Dubay's rigorous standards) can be very difficult. He offers suggestions on how to find one (but the non-Catholic will probably find his suggestions unhelpful). Chapter 7 of the book is "Can I Direct Myself?", but Dubay forbids you to read this chapter out of order.
Dubay is a thoroughly orthodox Roman Catholic, and this fact shows in his emphasis of such points as: that spiritual direction is ecclesial, and must take place within the ministry of the Church; that sacramental confession is a necessary prerequisite to spiritual direction; and that spiritual growth requires obedience to the Church and docility to its Magisterium. Non-Catholic readers will have to consider whether it's really honest to make a non-Catholic use of his insights, given that the non-Catholic will resist some of what Dubay considers essential and non-negotiable. On the other hand, Dubay's writing is exceptionally accessible to Evangelicals, because his use and citation of the Bible is so frequent and overt. (Parenthetical Scripture references are sprinkled across every page.) His references to our Lord's mother are unmistakably Catholic but extremely modest (see pp. 58, 126, 183, 202-03, 254, 262, 264). (Mary is almost absent from FIRE WITHIN.) Dubay is critical of sensationalism, such as that associated with Marian apparitions. He doesn't mention Medjugorge, but one senses that's what's in mind when he bemoans "sincere people more interested in crossing an ocean to visit the place of an alleged apparition than in visiting the Blessed Sacrament in their parish church" (p. 156).
I have two criticisms of the book: First, that Dubay's editor failed him, and left in some apparently unintentional repetition; and second, that some chapters employ a question-and-answer format that I found off-putting. (Is the questioner fictitious (i.e., Dubay himself)? If so, the naivete of the questioner and his effective compliments to Dubay are odd.) However, these faults don't by any means overwhelm the book's prodigious good qualities.
I find SEEKING SPIRITUAL DIRECTION to be a very helpful and encouraging mix of the theoretical and the practical. As an example of the "practical" end of things, he has a chapter entitled "How can I continue to grow?" that lists and discusses 44 "conditions for genuine progress". Some of them are common-sensical and predictable ("Determination", "Single-mindedness"), while others would not have occurred to me ("Particular examen", "Renouncing trivialities"). As another example, the chapter "Discernment: Assessing my progress" lists and discusses 19 "signs of progress"; and again, some of the signs are familiar, but others are less so ("Pilgrim frugality", "Rejection by the world", "Absence of egocentrism").
I found especially thought-provoking Dubay's distinguishing between sinning, on the one hand, and, on the other, being tempted to sin. It's a distinction that I feel I have always known theoretically, but Dubay's specific comments on it were very illuminating. Maybe the Accuser has duped us into false guilt for non-sins, both to distract us from our real sins and to discourage us from striving for spiritual excellence.
I recommend this book to those interested in spiritual direction or, more generally, in spiritual growth.
80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive guide to those considering Spiritual Direction 29 Sep 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Thomas Dubay has put together a comprehensive and practical guide for folks serious about their spiritual growth. Unlike many books written for those seeking advice in GIVING spiritual direction -- Fr. Dubay applies his many years of experience in giving spiritual guidance, in this book, to help those who are SEEKING spiritual guidance. The "question and answer" format that he uses throughout the book makes it very easy to read and understand. I highly recommend this book to anyone contemplating a deeper relationship with the Lord by way of Spiritual Direction.
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of ascetic theology and loving application today 1 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Father Dubay's presentation, refreshing in its "gospel truth" rather than trendy psychology or New Age pablum, is a brilliant exposition of ascetic theology, flavoured with deep insight and a "working knowledge" of true Christian charity.

Father Dubay works from extensive experience, but his book is always solidly grounded on the Scriptures and the writings of the classic spiritual guides. He does not omit the "unpopular" notions (obedience, informed conscience, etc.) , and, relating them to the visions of Vatican II, makes it clear that the Church has never denied their vitality.

Those who are not Roman Catholic, or whose primary emphasis is not on fidelity to the magisterium, should not find Father Dubay's stress on such fidelity to be off-putting. Obedience, in some sense, is always integral to spiritual direction, and there are other aspects of his thought that are valuable to all which "hide" behind these passages. For example, in one illustration, Father Dubay speaks of how a director must be honest in pointing out that contraception or failure for religious to wear distinctive garb contradicts Vatican teachings. These examples may be troublesome to non-Catholics, yet the underlying point is universal: how spiritual directors must keep those in their care from self-deception or rationalising.

This is the "genuine article" - true ascetic theology. It is not a handbook for a weekend read that sets one to believing s/he has reached the heights of sanctity in a few days. My only regret is that it was not available twenty years earlier.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful for those extremely serious about their spiritual progress 27 July 2006
By Patrice Fagnant-macarthur - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Seeking Spiritual Direction: How to Grow the Divine Life Within" is a difficult book in the sense that it calls the reader to a full accounting of his or her life. Fr. Thomas Dubay writes for those "who wish to scale the heights, to leave mediocrity far behind." It is a challenge to face one's own sinfulness, to be reminded of just how far one needs to go to be holy. Yet, Dubay is correct that Jesus did not call us to a mediocre spirituality. He is also correct that Jesus (and Vatican II reconfirmed this) did not differentiate between those out in the world and those living a clerical life. All are called to holiness.

The specific topic of this book is how to find a competent spiritual director and what to do if a competent one cannot be found. The list of qualities Dubay wants to see in a spiritual director is quite exhaustive and one doubts how many people could actually meet all these expectations. The goal of spiritual direction, however, is clear: to help "the directee to love God with the whole heart, soul, and mind, and the neighbor as oneself." While acknowledging that there may be times when one will be without a human spiritual director, Dubay encourages people to have one whenever possible. When a spiritual director is not available, Dubay recommends reading scripture, following the example of the saints and adhering to Church teaching. He also suggests questioning a priest or other respected person if there is a particular problem one is faced with.

Part two of "Seeking Spiritual Direction" is arranged in a question and answer format which covers many of the concerns one might have regarding spiritual direction. Part three deals with assessing one's spiritual progress, a difficult task to be sure. A spiritual director provides an objective viewpoint and he or she may see faults in us that we have become blind to.

As someone who has had a spiritual director for the past three years and benefited greatly from it, I fear that this book may discourage some from beginning the process. That would be an unfortunate consequence. Anyone who feels that he or she would benefit from spiritual direction should seek it. The director and directee can then move on from there.

"Seeking Spiritual Direction" will make you feel uncomfortable, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It is good to be reminded that the way to holiness is difficult and that we are all works in progress. I wish Fr. Dubay could have seen his way to offering more hope for those who are attempting to travel the road, however, especially lay people. While it is definitely true that we are called to holiness just as those committed to religious life are, the way we get there involves different tools and different challenges. This book is for those very serious about perfecting their spiritual lives.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply superb 21 July 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Spiritual direction is complex and sensitive. This author provides much clarity about the nature of spiritual direction, differentiating it from psychotherapy quite clearly. More than this, the book provides guidance in the need for direction and how to find someone who can meet the individual's needs. After reading this book, I wrote the author a note because I was so grateful for his wisdom.
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