By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Joan Chittister is executive director of Benetvision, A Resource and Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality in Erie, Pennsylvania. She has written many books and carries on an active speaking schedule. Over the years, she has received many letters asking about the central issues and concerns of the spiritual life. While responding to these queries, she realized that the wisdom literature of the world’s religions offers the best and most relevant insights into the spiritual path. She notes:
“Each great spiritual tradition, in its own way, suggests a model of what it means to be a holy person. Each of them shines a light on the human ideal. Each of them talks about what it takes to grow, to endure, to develop, to live a spiritual life in a world calculatingly material and sometimes maddeningly unclear.
“Yet, most of the responses to these great life questions do not come from catechetical manuals or theological treatises. In each of the traditions, we find the kind of wisdom literature that transcends both spiritual techniques and sacred theory. This kind of wisdom literature sets out simply to illuminate those passing moments in life that too often seem to be transitory, even worthless, but in which, underneath it all, some of the most disturbing, most challenging personal themes of life – ambition, success, security, exhilaration, endurance, romance, abandonment, depression, failure – are crystallized.”