Released towards the end of last year, Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God represents one of the best resources to emerge in a long time for Catholics who desire a better and more fruitful spiritual life.
The book is written by Dan Burke with assistance from Fr John Bartunek, who have both collaborated in recent years on Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction, the most widely read blog in the world on the topic of authentic Catholic spirituality. The foreword is written by Fr C.J. McCloskey.
In a recent interview, Fr John Bartunek himself confided in me that: “The book Navigating the Interior Life emerged from the work Dan and I have been doing at Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction (www.RCSpiritualDirection.com). We have been receiving an extremely warm welcome from readers all over the world since we started that apostolate, three years ago.
“Many of the questions that people were asking about spiritual direction were similar, and Dan felt moved to put together a book that could serve as an introduction to and a handbook for spiritual direction. He asked me to help review it, and he used some of my posts on the website as the basis of a couple of sections in the book. It has been an exciting project, and all the more so seeing the overwhelmingly positive response the book has already sparked.”
These remarks give some idea of their approach. Their treatment revolves around the idea of spiritual direction, which is defined thus: “Spiritual direction is a relationship through which we come to better know, love and follow Christ through the help of a kind of spiritual coach.”
The authors’ stated ambition is “to open the spiritual treasure chest of the Church and set up a signpost that never fails to satisfy those who follow it”.
Many of the ideas and principles laid out are age–old but are presented here anew and revitalised, drawn from a wide range of contemporary and classical views of spiritual direction from the Roman West to the Orthodox East.
After establishing why all of us need spiritual direction – even the greatest saints have needed a spiritual director – the author proceeds to offer highly practical advice on finding a good spiritual director (usually a priest, religious or lay member of the church).
We read that having found a spiritual director, the directee must take complete ownership of their spiritual growth and journey. In a chapter titled ‘Spiritual Self–Evaluation’ we even find charts which assist us in evaluating both our sacramental participation and our prayer life.
My highest praise for Dan Burke’s book is that it achieves the rare distinction of being both enormously practical and deeply devotional. Navigating the Interior Life is a treasure for all Catholics seeking spiritual direction in their daily lives.