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Desiring to Desire God

Desiring to Desire God

By David W. Fagerberg

226 pp

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About the Book

To pray is best; to want to pray is good; to want to want to pray is the first touch by God. A person who is in that last condition is the subject of this book, because it turns out that even desiring to desire can be an expression of love. All the authors quoted herein are Catholic spiritual writers from between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries whom David Fagerberg categorizes as theologians of abnegation because they take seriously Jesus’s words: “Deny yourself and follow me.” That abnegation has both a negative and a positive face: it is the cure for a sickness unto death, but it is also uplifting because it rejoices in the charity of God. This book is about the latter face of abnegation, so often overlooked. And it turns out that this view of abnegation is accomplished by liturgical theology—the key that turns so many locks.


“David Fagerberg’s chosen theme of the soul’s desire—of such fundamental, perennial importance—is all the more crucial in our own day, when so many suffer either from a numbing loss of desire and sense of purpose or from an addictive enslavement to worldly desires.”—ANN W. ASTELL, University of Notre Dame     

“To read this work is to drink at the wells of the classic

Catholic mysticism of abnegation that blossomed between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. In beguiling, simple language accessible to the ordinary reader, the author has woven a spiritual and mystical classic in its own right.”—JAMES OKOYE, former Director of the Center for Spiritan Studies, Duquesne University

“David Fagerberg offers a fresh look at the essential role desire plays in deepening a life of faith or re-igniting a faith grown cold. With apt quotations drawn from his vast knowledge of classical spiritual writers, he convincingly demonstrates that, even when suffering the greatest spiritual darkness, we can grow closer to God simply by choosing to desire to desire God.”—REV. MOTHER LUCIA KUPPENS, OSB, Abbey of Regina Laudis

About the Author

DAVID W. FAGERBERG is professor emeritus in the department of theology at the University of Notre Dame, where he taught for twenty years. His books include Theologia Prima (2003), On Liturgical Asceticism (2013), Consecrating the World (2016), Liturgical Mysticism (2019), Liturgical Dogmatics (2021), and The Liturgical Cosmos (2023).

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