I have always been a big fan of spiritual reading.
As a child, I loved to read the lives of the Saints – some of them appealed very much to me, so that we became good friends and our friendship deepened as the years went by. I also love the sort of book which could best be described as ‘spiritual’. I have read many such books, but not all have had the same effect on me – some have been interesting but little more; others have moved me in some way; and a few have had a major impact and would be the ones I would choose to take with me to a desert island.
One such book is ‘Divine Intimacy – Meditations On The Interior Life For Every Day Of The Liturgical Year‘, written by a Carmelite Priest called Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, originally from Belgium. I understand he taught in colleges in Rome and he was apparently exceptionally popular and revered as something of a spiritual master, well versed in the spirituality of Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross. The book was published by Baronius Press in 2014 after it’s original publication in 1953. This version is an English translation from the Italian, translated by the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Boston, USA.
The book is based on the Liturgical Year before the changes which followed Vatican II, and so in that sense it is perhaps now outdated; however, the contents are still very usable indeed and they are of a form which appeals to me. Each day offers two meditations which exude a rich Carmelite spirituality; these meditations are accompanied by a colloquy which is of the form of a conversation between God and the soul, culminating in spiritual resolutions. Indeed, Fr Gabriel writes in his preface that the book follows the Teresian structure and method of prayer, and it is from this that the book takes it’s name – “Teresian spirituality is the sprituality of divine intimacy”, writes Father Gabriel.
The books has the approbation of the Holy See, containing a letter from Cardinal Dell’Acqua, at the Secretariat of State of Pope John XXIII, to whom a copy of the fifth edition had been sent by the Carmelite sisters in Rome. This letter notes that “the meditations are substantial and solid, adapted to the various degrees of spirituality, and within the reach of every person of good will”. Which is good news for me – simple is generally best.