Summer Reading like a Saintly Boss
This past Monday, Memorial Day, we were blessed with an exceptional day at the beach! Providence was certainly looking out for these wayward pilgrim souls! It was also the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and we had opportunity to mark the day with Mass in the morning and then some time reflecting upon Mary’s visit to Elizabeth; what someone in our group called the first Eucharistic Procession as Mary carried the Christ-child in her womb as she made her way into the hill country.
As we were enjoying one another’s company on the beach there were a few moments (as there always are on the beach) where things quieted down a little bit and the books came out. Generally, summer offers a little more time for some more reflective reading that might get shelved during busier times. One person even had on them the Life of St. Teresa of Avila – some heavier reading for the sand & surf!
Good Spiritual Reading is an invaluable part of any budding saint’s spiritual regimen. Bl. Pier Giorgio was not a star student in school and all the same he was no slouch when it came to serious study especially regarding the spiritual life. In his university years, he entered the Dominican Family as a tertiary (a member of the Third Order) and his favorite authors reputed to be among the likes of St. Thomas, St. Augustine, St. Bernard, St. Paul, St. Catherine of Siena and Dante.
Spiritual reading has been the catalyst for not a few conversions in the history of the Church’s life. Such persons as St. Augustine, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and St. Edith Stein, point to moments of profound encounter with God’s word, or the lives of the saints as significant in their making a whole-hearted commitment to the Lord. It serves us well in the work of spreading the good news of Salvation in Jesus Christ too. One author reflects, “Spiritual Reading takes on a particular importance in our time since ordinarily it is one of the most important means of acquiring good doctrine to nourish our piety and to enable us to proclaim the Faith in a world engulfed by profound ignorance.”
A few tips for fruitful reading:
1. Commit to a regular time of reading
While spiritual reading does not have the same character of study we remember from our school days, there ought to be a consistency to it. Most of the spiritual authors recommend about 15-20 minutes a day. Set aside a time each day no matter the length of the book. Progress by inches each day adds up to miles in the long game!
2. Be reasonable with your reading choices
I am always tempted to pick up a big tome of Theology with the belief that this will give me the key to unlocking heaven! God is simple. We should take note of that and imitate the Lord’s simplicity in our own reading choices.
The Lives of the Saints (biographies or stories of the saints’ lives) make for especially good spiritual reading. Some come in the shape of hard and fast modern biographies looking at the nitty-gritty details of their lives. Other come in the shape of novelizations or more having a more devotional quality ordered toward stirring up the heart to holier habits and thoughts. There is place for both in a well-balanced spiritual diet.
3. Make Spiritual Reading another kind of Prayer
While spiritual reading is not prayer per se, it can offer fuel for that quiet time with Jesus we need each day. Set the time apart by starting with a short prayer. Pausing for a moment or two and saying “Come Holy Spirit!” followed by an Our Father may be enough. Then go!
4. Don’t get discouraged!
Why would I say this? You may begin a book and realize a few days or weeks into it that this is not the one for me! Sometimes the answer is to persevere; other times, to move on to another. If you miss a day of reading, don’t beat yourself or try to do a double the next day. Wake up and start fresh, do the day’s reading and no more.
Below are a few recommendations for getting your Summer Spiritual Reading off the ground. Happy reading fellow Frassatians!
· Books on our patron, Bl. Pier Girgio Frassati
· Various Lives of the Saints
o The Works of Louis de Wohl concerning various saints. These read like novels; great beach reading!
· Books on Spiritual Life and Prayer