Spiritual reading and the spiritual life
“All the mistakes of this world have already been made and their solutions appear in books. Is there really any point in making them again? The trick in life is to make it easier, not harder and the habit of reading will certainly do this for you” (Sharma, 2013:138). The foregoing expression goes a long way to affirm the fact that just as prayer takes care of the soul, exercise the body, so is the mind cared for through the activity of reading. Though the three activities look and sound distinct and separate in a loose sense but in a strict sense they are all strictly knitted. Such that we can only pray well if we can also read well. Our prayer life need the support of the word of God and if this is the case, how can we advanced in prayer if we do not read, study and meditate on the word of God and other spiritual writings? The same is true of exercise and our bodies. We lack the culture of self-care and apart from other reasons, the main reason for this is as a result of lack of information about the necessity of exercise and other self-care tips. How can we get such information and personalize them? One of the chief means is reading.
Our interest here is on spiritual reading and not just any how reading. That is the act and art of reading that dates back to ancient days when monks read through manuscripts of the Bible and other ancient writings to discover themselves, the will of God, improve their spiritual exercises (prayer, devotions and charity), cultivate virtues and ascend in holiness. If spiritual reading is properly and consistently done, it will settle myriad of issues bedeviling our spiritual life. Such issues include: pride and other capital sins, prejudice, fear, and laziness. We also have weeds like evil habits, addictions and evil tendencies, hatred, jealousy, and greed. Spiritual reading can also address our trials and tribulations of this world, the cares of this world, our ambitions, or our desires for worldly success and happiness.
What should we read is another point to reflect on! As people destined for the spiritual life our main literature and library is the Holy Bible. Get a Catholic Bible with a commentary and begin to study, speak and pray the word of God as contained in it. Get other spiritual resource materials like the Catechism of the Catholic Church (C.C.C) and meditatively read and discover how the Word of God is applied to our daily lives through the teaching instruments of doctrines and dogmas. Get a good Saints companion and be familiar with the works and lives of saints because saints are our practical doctrines. You are free to add other interesting list from our Catholic inexhaustive and grace-filled literatures and libraries.
How long should we undertake the spiritual exercise of spiritual reading? A least fifteen minutes daily will make a lot of sense for our spiritual growth and nourishment.
Finally, if you truly desire a change in your life, challenge yourself by cultivating the habit of reading good spiritual materials especially the Bible at least fifteen minutes daily and you will see and testify the changes and stability of your life. Many have become giants today simply because of good reading. Also many have become dwarfs and are almost entering their graves too early because of lack of reading. Read to discover yourself, God and others. Read to live well in the Lord. I give you the blessing of God to empower you to read and become the true eternal child of God.
Fr. John-Mary Atep