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The best books are old books May 10, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, fun, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Interior Life, Tradition, Virtue.

There is an English spiritual classic called The Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection,.  It was written by Walter Hilton after he opened a major hotel chain in the late 14th Century.  There are many editions around.  But I have found most of those available from modern, current day publishers to be highly deficient – large parts have been excised, meaning subtly (or drastically) changed, and that more……hardcore, if you will……feeling of Catholic spirituality, as it would have been lived by a anchoress in 15th Century England (for whom the book was written) is lost.  You really want an old copy of this book. 

I found one, for a steal ($10) at Half Price Books.  The book is 111 years old and is in mint condition!  I don’t think the pages were ever cracked, or if they were, only very, very carefully.  Given that this book was apparently in a seminary library, perhaps that goes some small way to explaining the catechetical collapse in the church in the 20th Century.  But the book itself was originally published in London, on Pater Noster Row!, in 1870.  Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find the original book as I did.

But, no matter!  You have two options to obtain this spiritual classic.  If you don’t mind reading online, it’s all right here.  You can buy a “publish on demand” version on Alibris for ~$24 if you’re like me and like to have pages to hold.

It’s a wonderful book, and the introductory essay is fantastic!

I’ve also found another old book, this one Vol. VI of the Moral Doctor, St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Ascetical Works, The Holy Eucharist.  This one is a paperback reprint of a version published in 1934.  It’s pretty old school.  I haven’t gotten into this one, as much, but it looks very solid.  I don’t even know where it came from, I think my wife had it from years back. 

There are versions in print, but, again, I would be very wary of them.  So many of our Catholic spiritual classics have been “modernized” out of all recognition of their original meaning and beauty (how can  you shorten a 500 page original down to 150 pages without ripping out massive content and/or changing meaning?  I would run from this edition)  So, here’s another free version of the book online.

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