Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book Review: Navigating the Interior Life

Greetings to my faithful readers and welcome to my new readers. It's time for another book review at Stuart's Study. It's hard coming up with creative ways to welcome people to my page, so forgive me if this one seems a little clunky. Today, I am reviewing the book Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God by Daniel Burke with Fr. John Bartunek, LC, STL. This book was provided to me by Emmaus Road in exchange for an honest review. I try to be fair and review books in the order I am sent them, but I have to admit that it was hard for me to wait for this book because the cover kept drawing me in. It was a real test of patience not moving this up in my queue.

For those of you unfamiliar with Daniel Burke, he runs a website entitled Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction and also writes and is the Executive Director of National Catholic Register. The primary aim of this book is a call to holiness and drawing closer to God through spiritual direction. I would attempt to explain to you what spiritual direction is, but I would not do Mr. Burke justice. One should just know that people find this spiritual direction under a spiritual director, generally a religious but sometimes a lay person. The book stresses repeatedly that one should not attempt to be their own spiritual director.

This book is intended to be read slowly, prayerfully, and if possible in front of the Blessed Sacrament. However, this is hard to do as a lot of the chapters are short and all of them leave you longing to read more. In this book, you will find advice on who to find as a spiritual director, questions to ask of your spiritual director, evaluation (to be done under spiritual guidance) of your root sin and where you are at in your spiritual journey. These last two can be done by yourself on a superficial level, and if you are honest with yourself, the answer will probably humble you at how far away you are from God and how much closer you could be.

Although this book is a Catholic book, it has a very Eastern Orthodox feel, not that that is a bad thing. Our Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ place more emphasis on spiritual direction than we do in the West. Hopefully, we will see more good Catholic spiritual directors emerge as we are all in need of guidance on how to draw closer to God. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars, and the 0.5 star deduction is because there were several typos in the book. It is still a great book though and worth reading, and as the book said, pray that you may find a spiritual director to guide you.