la Puente, Luis de, ven.
LA PUENTE, LUIS DE, VEN.
Jesuit spiritual writer; b. Valladolid, Nov. 11, 1554;d. there, Feb. 16, 1624. La Puente studied arts and letters at the University of Valladolid and later pursued courses in theology with the Dominicans. He entered the Society of Jesus on Dec. 2, 1574, and later made his tertianship under the direction of Balthasar Alvarez, SJ. He was regent of studies and professor of theology in Oviedo and Valladolid from 1596 to 1599. He dedicated almost the whole of his life to administration and spiritual direction. He served as rector in Vallagarcia and twice in Valladolid (1594–96, 1601–02), as novice master in Villagarcía (1585–89, 1593–94, 1599–1601) and in Medina del Campo (1592–93), and as spiritual director in Valladolid and Salamanca (1589–92, 1597–99).
He is remembered chiefly for his spiritual writings. The specific characteristic of his spirituality was its paternal spirit. This quality La Puente appears to have acquired through the gift of wisdom, and it enabled him to inspire in his disciples a clear perception of the spiritual world. In his writings he appears not only as a theologian of depth but as a spiritual master as well. His knowledge of the Scriptures, soundness of doctrine, and clarity of expression are remarkable. His spirituality seems to spring from his insight into the theological foundations of the truths about which he wrote. However, he misused symbolism, made frequent use of an artificial interpretation of the Scriptures, and the pace in the development of his ideas was often too slow.
Among his principal writings was Meditaciones de los Misterios de nuestra fe (Meditations on the Mysteries of our Faith, 2 v., Valladolid 1605). More than 260 complete or partial editions of the Meditations, including translations into many languages, are known to have been published. The Meditations begin with a study of the end of man and the four last things, continue with the life of Christ, and end with a masterful consideration of the divine attributes. The introduction to the Meditations is a "short, clear and precise summary of mental prayer, the most complete and delightful treatise on prayer ever written." (C. M. Abad, 152).
Guía espiritual (Spiritual Guide, Valladolid 1609), a work not as well known as La Puente's Meditations, is more profound and sublime in doctrine. It treats of the contemplative life in its various practices (including mystical exercises) and the active life, in the consideration of which great emphasis is laid upon mortification. In this work La Puente revealed himself not only as a mystic but as a learned theologian able to present his doctrine with accuracy and precision.
De la perfección del cristiano en todos sus estados (On Christian Perfection in the Different States of Life, 4 v., Valladolid 1612–16) is one of the first treatises on spirituality to be based upon the perfection of the different states of life. Perfection is considered in its relation to the Sacraments. The book treats of the spiritual perfection to which God calls the Christian in Baptism and the perfection signified in Confirmation and Holy Orders, and there follows an application of these principles to the different states of life. It includes a treatment of the necessity and kind of civil obedience expected of the Christian, and it dwells upon the perfection proper to married life.
Expositio moralis et mystica in Canticum Canticorum (2 v., Cologne 1622) is a spiritual and mystical commentary on the Song of Songs. Its value does not lie in its exegesis of the text, which is too symbolic and contrived, but in the spiritual doctrine that it sets forth, especially that with regard to grace, the Mystical Body, and contemplation.
La Puente is also remembered for his Vida del Padre Baltasar Alvarez (The Life of Father Balthasar Alvarez, Madrid 1615) and his Sentimientos y avisos espirituales (Spiritual Counseling and Dispositions, Seville 1671).
Bibliography: c. sommervogel et al., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus (Brussels-Paris 1890–1932) 6:1271–95. i. iparraguirre, Répértoire de spiritualité ignatienne (Rome 1961), with detailed bibliog. c. m. abad, Vida y escritos del V. P. Luis de La Puente (Comillas 1957), best biog.; El V. P. Luis de La Puente: Sus libros y doctrina espiritual (Comillas 1954), analysis of works. j. de guibert, The Jesuits: Their Spiritual Doctrine and Practice, tr. w. j. young, ed. g. e. ganss (Chicago 1964).