SPIRITUAL READING: RENEW YOUR MIND IN CHRIST!
On our pathway to holiness, we should use all of the means and helps we can to arrive at our eternal home: heaven. Spiritual writers and spiritual directors are unanimous in the invaluable importance of frequent SPIRITUAL READING. Forming the habit of frequent, methodical, well-ordered “Spiritual Reading” can fortify our spiritual life, as vitamins do to the body. Consult your confessor or Spiritual Director as to what would be the “best” spiritual reading for you now, how to do and when to do it and without a doubt your spiritual life well skyrocket! To encourage you, these are the many fruits that can be picked from the tree of the person who takes seriously “Spiritual Reading”.
1. LOVE OF GOD. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love Him with all our soul, strength, and MIND. We cannot love someone who we do not love. Good Spiritual Reading puts us in contact with God, through knowing Him better and knowledge of Jesus generates love for Him.
2. PURIFICATION OF THE MIND. Today we are exposed to much moral dirt– t.v. the radio, the Internet, the street, maybe even the workplace— good spiritual reading serves to purify the mind. As chlorine is to your backyard pool, so is good spiritual reading to the mind, sullied by the dust of the world!
3. HOLY THOUGHTS AND HOLY ACTIONS. By reading the mind is filled with holy thoughts that lead to holy actions and eventually to holy lives and finally heaven! St Paul says we should focus on heavenly things.
4. PRAYER ENRICHMENT. Notice that when you have formed the habit of “Spiritual Reading” then when you go to your prayer it is easier because this “Holy mind-set” and holy thoughts can be brought to prayer. A good spiritual reading and a fervent meditation are like hand in glove.
5. PERMANENT FORMATION/CATECHESIS. Many today have never been properly educated in the faith, have been poorly catechized, or not even catechized at all. Therefore, spiritual reading— for example, reading the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH— can fulfill a catechetical void that many have been immersed in!
6. FROM DESOLATION TO CONSOLATION. We all experience moments(maybe hours) of desolation, in which God seems distant and we have lost the “Taste” for spiritual things. St. Ignatius insists that we must fight against desolation and not give in to it. If we give into desolation then it can cause irreparable damage to our spiritual life. An extraordinary help in desolation can be quiet, peaceful recollected spiritual reading. Personally, if find reading from the DIARY OF ST FAUSTINA: DIVINE MERCY IN MY SOUL is an oasis of peace and consolation in moments of aridity, temptation and desolation. Have in store your favorite books to conquer desolation!
7. APOLOGETICS. Reading can lead to knowledge of the faith and defense of the faith. At Confirmation, the Bishop sent the newly confirmed as an apostle to “Spread the faith and to defend the faith.” Read the spiritual topic you love; defend it when the opportunity arises!
8. CONVERSION! St Ignatius, St Augustine, St Teresa of Avila— all of these great saints received signal graces through “Spiritual Reading”. Ignatius read the lives of the saints and was moved by their heroic lives and exclaimed: “If Dominic did it so can I; If Francis did it so can I….. Your own deeper conversion can take place through spiritual reading!!! Try it!
9. AVOID MENTAL STAGNATION. The mind has to be constantly renewed and replenished and reinvigorated; otherwise mental stagnation can set in! Many spouses could improve markedly their married life if they both applied themselves to Spiritual Reading. Therefore, upon meeting they can share their day as well as the fruits and lights and insights derived in from their Reading!
10. GOOD EXAMPLE! Jesus said He is the Light of the world; also He said that we are to be the light of the world. Parents, apply yourself to good reading and your children, hopefully, will follow your good example. Spiritual Reading is spiritual light to illuminate the home and the family!
In conclusion, start today your spiritual reading. What to read? Suggestions: Bible, lives of the saints, Catechism, teachings of the Popes, moral theology to form one’s conscience, Prayer…. and many more! Consult your Spiritual Director. With the habit of Spiritual Reading your knowledge of Jesus will increase, your love for Him will abound and your sharing with others will multiply and your home in heaven prepared!
Father Ed Broom, OMV, is Associate Pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens, California. He is a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and was ordained by Saint John Paul II on May 25, 1986. Fr. Ed teaches Catholic Ignatian Marian Spirituality through articles, podcasts, a radio show, retreats and spiritual direction.