A Guide for Spiritual Survival

Tracking Virtue, Conquering Vice: A Guide for Spiritual Survival by Rev. Joseph F. Classen is a book for nature enthusiasts who see God in the beauty of the world around them. Each chapter begins with a story, generally centered around a hunting trip, which serves as a platform to discuss one particular vice. Each chapter concludes with a virtue which serves to combat that vice, and Father Classen offers some general ideas on how to employ those virtues in a practical way.

Although I love, really love, the outdoors, I am not a hunter. In fact, I’m pretty squeamish about killing animals in general. Don’t get me wrong: I love to eat meat. I’m just thankful that I don’t have to personally kill it, dress it, butcher it. If I did have to do that, I just might eat more vegetables.

But I don’t think there is anything wrong with hunting. In fact, I agree that there is something wrong with me. Father Classen paints beautiful pictures of the areas where he has been hunting. I fully appreciate his joy in seeing God’s vistas. I, too, feel as though my heart will burst when confronted with a perfect blue in the sky contrasting with brilliant colors on changing leaves. But Father Classen goes on to express his appreciation for a deer or a turkey, a gift from God, which He has given to mankind to sustain our life. I do not have as much appreciation for my turkey bought at the grocery store, as Father Classen has for his Thanksgiving dinner. And that’s my problem. My homemade bread tastes so much better than store-bought, and my appreciation of homemade bread is deeper due to my personal labor. The more removed we are from the process of procuring food, the less gratitude we feel for it.

But I digress.

Reading this book is like sitting around a campfire listening to hunting stories with theology mixed in. The lessons are short, entertaining and easy-to-understand. These are not deep discourses in metaphysics, but rather clear and practical homilies.

I do think hunters and fishers will enjoy the book more than non-hunters and fishers. I did know what I was getting into when I selected this book; I picked it mostly for my husband, who wants to hunt but has always lacked time, opportunity, and/or equipment (I helped him out with some of the equipment not too long ago, the other issues will have to wait until after his deployment). The book went off to the Post Office today. I think he will enjoy it.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company to find out more about Tracking Virtue, Conquering Vice.

One thought on “A Guide for Spiritual Survival

  1. Sounds interesting. I shall have to get a copy

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