Publisher: Tumblar House
Publication Date: May 8, 2015
In Sin Revisited, Solange Hertz tackles the topic of sin with a unique perspective for modern times, delving into the intellectual approaches of the Desert Fathers as well as St. John of the Cross. In Hertz’s own words: “Don’t expect to find the seven deadly sources so familiar in song and story. You’ll find eight, and even these won’t be in the same sequence most of us are used to. This approach is newer than Vatican II, because it’s so much older, if you know what I mean, very much older certainly than the old Baltimore Catechism.” Upon reading this book, a person may subtly undergo an examination of conscience pertaining to each sin that is being discussed. This book is designed to be a guide for spiritual perfection.
An established writer before the Second Vatican Council, Solange Hertz wrote for most Catholic periodicals and had five books to her credit, one a selection of the Catholic Literary Foundation. When she refused to adjust her theology to the new “Spirit of Vatican II,” her manuscripts almost overnight became unacceptable to her former editors. After a series of articles on feminine spirituality for the old Triumph magazine, she continued speaking for tradition by successfully producing The Thought of Their Heart and Sin Revisited on her own.
My second favorite of Hertz's books, only behind Utopia Nowhere. The approach to sin which she highlights, that of the Desert Fathers, is a unique approach that I haven't seen anywhere else. It highlights the interrelation of sins and how one begets another. For example, gluttony is related to lust in that "undo partaking of food can lead to undo partaking of persons." It has helped me identify roots of sin in my own life which I would've never seen otherwise.
I enjoyed this book so much I can’t wait to go through it again. The first section takes you through the Desert Fathers Eight Capital Sins (can you imagine Depression and Boredom where among them?) with an allegory through the story of Joshua and how he conquered the Promised Land. Whereas the Desert Fathers begin with Gluttony and end in Pride the Second Section which concerns Saint John of the Cross Begins with Pride and ends with Gluttony. The Saint John of the Cross section is less academic and feels as if I were holding a mirror to my soul, telling me things about myself I had kept hidden. The last section talks about “the night” or time of being tested as well as the adversary himself and his tactics.
Solange Hertz’s Sin Revisited is a masterful overview of the capital sins. The bulk of the book is a treatment based upon the Desert Fathers, with an order that is different from what most of us are used to. Here the first sin, “man’s basic sin”, is Gluttony, followed by Lust. They are closely related. The author points out that the devil never tempted Our Lord to sexual sin because he had no success tempting Him with food. Greed and Anger come next and are again a sort of pair, with one egging the other on. Depression and Boredom (Acedia) and finally, of course, Vanity and Pride, the “sin of the perfect”, are presented as pairs of enemies, allies of destruction.
Gluttony is represented by Egypt, and each following sin corresponds to a challenge that the Israelite faced in attempting to conquer the Promised Land, with the necessity of clearing it of what the author calls “usurpers”. In New Testament light, the Lord’s requirement of total destruction, for example, of Jericho, including men, women, and children, becomes totally relatable as we ”wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
I am presently in an Exodus 90 group with three other men. This program, like the list in Sin Revisited begins in Egypt. I bought the book for the other guys and they have all made it part of their regular reading in our journey. Each week at one of our meetings, one of us feels the need to read a passage or two from the book.
The last third of the book is a treatment of the capital sins in the order that St. John of the Cross viewed them. Here Pride is the first, then Avarice, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy and finally Sloth. Her treatment here lacks none of the verbal brilliance she demonstrates in the first section. The Saint’s own words are judiciously shared as the author magnifies them with unsparing clarity.
This is a very good book. I highly recommend it, especially as a Lenten read.
Solange Hertz’s style and clarity are outstanding. This book is an incredibly guide to going up against sin
This book is an excellent guide through the ways in which allows us to see our sins from a new perspective according to the spiritual masters of our faith. This one will be read time and time again to not lose sight of the sinfulness which dwells within the heart and mind.
With candid editorializing, spiritually mature commentary and insightful application the late Mrs. Hertz brings the essential moral content of Cassian's Institutes and St. John of the Cross' 'Ascent' to the average Catholic reader.
She is expressly trady. And pulls no punches on the current Church crisis and the state of things like "modern psychology." Be forewarned. Or get excited. I don't judge.
The book is split up into a first half which acts like a walkthrough of the 7-deadly-sins-section of Cassian's Institutes (which incidentally you should also read, and feel inspired to read after reading this book). There is an intro, and then a section by section breakdown of each deadly sin.
The same goes with the second half of Hertz's book -- only with St. John of the Cross and particularly his Ascent of Mt Carmel as the inspiration.
I say derivative but that's not derogatory. This is a great spiritual work and worth adding to your queue of daily spiritual reading.
This is a wonderful look at the topic of sin that, honestly, has made me think more than any other I have read. Hertz tends to write in a way that makes you think outside the box and this is no exception. It brings up ideas from the Desert Fathers that you may have never considered and would be great as a tool to make a really good examination of your life and where you stand with our Lord. The approach is so fresh for being so ancient. This one is not to be missed.