"Purgative, Illuminative, Unitive -- what are those? "

I recently came across a very interesting Tweet from a Leila Marie Lawler which read:

"The Biden Event exposes the abandonment of the Three-Fold Way in the Catholic Church.

Purgative, Illuminative, Unitive – what are those?

No one seems to know or remember"

I had to admit that I was in the former category. I noticed that further in the thread reference was made to a book that was apparently formerly mandatory reading for seminarians. It was " The Spiritual Life" by Aldolphe Tanqueray, available here: https://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Life-Treatise-Ascetical-Mystical/dp/1626540888/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=tanqueray+the+spiritual+life&qid=1572860732&s=books&sr=1-1#reader_B0106X7NKA

I have started to read this and it is truly wonderful and very helpful for laity and clergy alike in seeking guidance and help when facing life`s challenges. The book is rather expensive, but can also be read on line or downoladed free in a variety of formats here:

Please consider taking a look.

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The purgative way

The purgative way is the way, or state, of those who are beginners, that is, those who have obtained justification, but have not their passions and evil inclinations in such a state of subjugation that they can easily overcome temptations, and who, in order to preserve and exercise charity and the other virtues have to keep up a continual warfare within themselves…

The illuminative way

The illuminative way is that of those who are in the state of progress and have their passions better under control, so that they easily keep themselves from mortal sin, but who do not so easily avoid venial sins, because they still take pleasure in earthly things and allow their minds to be distracted by various imaginations and their hearts with numberless desires, though not in matters that are strictly unlawful…

The unitive way

The unitive way is the way of those who are in the state of the perfect, that is, those who have their minds so drawn away from all temporal things that they enjoy great peace, who are neither agitated by various desires nor moved by any great extent by passion, and who have their minds chiefly fixed on God and their attention turned, either always or very frequently, to Him…


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Read “The Fufillment of All Desire” it’s a whole book dedicated to this question and it’s one of the factors that totally changed my life. I felt like God was trying to tell me how to draw nearer to him through it. I found it at my local library.

Great book.

There is also a Dominican who wrote about this topic. @IanM

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