I would definitely put this on the list of the top ten books all Catholics should read! After having read many of the biographies and other books from which Ralph Martin takes lengthy excerpts, I got a lot from reading The Fulfillment of All Desire. It is a very well-written body of work that contains a beautiful synthesis of the spiritual wisdom from seven remarkable saints. Through an involved look at the different levels of spiritual growth leading to marital union with the Lord, Martin gives the reader valuable insights from the writings of seven doctors of the church: Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales, and Thérèse of Lisieux.
Whether someone’s interested in reading the major teachings of some well-known saints for the first time or would like to refresh the memory of what he or she has read over the years, this book is a good choice. I found it very helpful to have so many of the parallels drawn between the various works and teachings of these saints. In addition to giving an overview of the lives of each of these saints, the author provides us with deep insights about the spiritual enlightenment and growth each of these individuals underwent. By guiding the reader through how each of the above mentioned saints dealt with sin, prayer, temptation, spiritual growth, suffering, purification, and a growing love for the Lord and His people, we see many similarities. Of course, each person exhibits a firmer resolve in doing the Lord’s will even as they go through quite a bit of suffering in mind, body, and spirit.
All of them through their lives, examples, and writing show how important the purification part of growing closer to God is. Each of the seven were challenged again and again to let go of pride and their own wills, so the Lord could be free to work in and through them. Martin does a terrific job of letting each person’s unique personality and temperament shine through by selecting excerpts from their works instead of just paraphrasing the main ideas. This makes the book seem much more like a compilation of wisdom directly from the saints than a watered-down attempt at synthesizing the various books they’ve produced about their lives.
I highly recommend this book. There are quite a few gems, so you’ll likely want to take your time with it, refer back to it as a reference, and pick out your wish list titles from among the many works cited throughout the book.
You can purchase this book here.