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Ascetical Theology – Navigating the Interior Life Spiritual Dictionary

October 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Spiritual Dictionary

ASCETICAL THEOLOGY: The science of the saints based on a study of their lives.  It is aimed to make people holy by explaining what sanctity is and how to attain it.  It is the science of leading souls in the ways of Christian perfection through growth in charity and the practice of prayer leading to contemplation. It is that part of spiritual theology which concentrates on man’s cooperation with grace and the need for human effort to grow in sanctity.

This Spiritual Dictionary Term is an excerpt from the glossary of Dan's book Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. To learn more, click here.


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What is spiritual direction and my spiritual direction? What are my “blind spots” and how can I uncover them? What keeps me from all the spiritual riches Christ has for me? How can I better understand where I am in my spiritual progress?

Daniel Burke’s Navigating the Interior Life will give you the tools you need to understand how and why we grow and die in the spiritual life and what we can do about it.

Most of us have questions about spiritual direction. What is it? Is it for me? What if I can’t find a spiritual director? These questions and more are well answered in Dan Burke’s book. The Lord is clearly calling all Catholics into a deeper union with him. This book, in a style which is both inspiring and practical, provides some of the Church’s most important wisdom about how to respond to this call.

Ralph Martin, PhD, president, Renewal Ministries
and author of ‘The Fulfillment of All Desire'
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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Océano

    In general we are blind in the spirit and when suffering comes makes us even blinder. This blindness makes me anxious and sad, very sad
    inside. Yes, I can see a little, but, what about all my brothers and sisters around? I desire for all to see and start that ascesis to real joy, love and
    peace. I do pray and offer myself and do my very best to be a good example for all those around me.
    What else, I always ask my God, can I do to help? Holy Mother of God, with your hugs, awake peoples’ spiritual eyes so that we all can love the King the same way you do.

  • GHM_52

    I am not sure whether Oceano and Dan are using the term “blindness” to mean this, but besides the “partial blindness” we humans experience in this Earth, I think I start suffering from additional blindness every time I allow myself ani bit of distance from God. For instance, when I am faithful in my daily prayer life (which includess varied types of prayer: vocal, mental, lectio divina, reading orthodox religious books and thinking about what I have read, etc.), I start “receiving” a lot of insights regarding different theological issues and points of faith that ground me even more in my christian faith. By the same token, the minute I become slack in my prayer life, I notice, not only the absence of such faith-grounding insights, but an actual “loss” of sight in terms of faith (e.g., doubts about even basic tennets of the faith; weird negative thoughts; a sort of lassitude regarding all things directly connected to God, etc.). In short, my personal experience is that I can be “invaded” by a fog of blindness very easily, if I fail to monitor my prayer life closely. Therefore, the terrible blindness (intellectual, emotional, etc.) that I see in all who espouse secular beliefs is not surprising to me.

  • Mary@42

    With regard to Ascetical Theology, I am here to learn through
    the excerpts from Dan’s Book and your Responses. Deep and complex
    spiritual theology is way beyond my simple Spirituality and elementary intellectual capacity. I daily strive to remain in touch with God through the Rule of Life and the Prayer Pattern I have set for myself. Having not read much about the lives of the Great Saints, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, my Model – as I have stated elsewhere – is Saint Faustina Kowaslka. Her child-like holy life lived in the presence of Jesus and His Holy Mother, resonates very well with my humble state of life. She has taught me how to open the doors of my heart and soul wide and allow God to be God in every facet of my life. St. Therese of Lisieux – and her “Little Way” of Trust in Divine Mercy – also inspires me on how to remain “small” and unassuming before God which is echoed by the Signature Tune of the Divine Mercy Devotion : “Jesus I Trust In You”. I am slowly learning how to stop trying to be in charge and, instead, pray to discern God’s Will, moment by moment, and then ask for His Grace to submit to Him.

    I am sure I will learn valuable lessons from this Book and from you, beloved children of God. Be blessed.

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