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Ste. Anne ChurchFather Frank is also pastor at Ste. Anne Parish on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Spiritual Reading

"You will find no one in earnest about his [or her] spiritual progress who does not give time to spiritual reading."
— St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (born circa 296, died May 2, 373. Feast day: May 2nd)

So you see, the need for spiritual reading goes back a long, long way! And it's still with us today.

Spiritual reading is like:

  • Oil for our spiritual lamp. Without spiritual reading, our lamp will eventually flicker and go out.
  • Food that nourishes our soul. Spiritual reading "feeds" our relationship with God. As a paraphrase of Native American teaching we can say, "We have two natures inside, an eagle and a snake. We become the one we feed."

There are several categories of spiritual reading. Among them are the following:

  • The Bible. The New Testament, especially, should be regular reading material for the Catholic Christian. The "New American Bible" is the version on which the readings at Mass are based. The "Jerusalem Bible" has more footnotes and internal commentaries (good for Bible study). The "New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition" is also recommended and is regarded by many people as having more poetic beauty.
  • Bible commentaries. A good commentary on the Bible is essential if you want to go deeper into the meaning of the scripture passages and more fully comprehend God's Word. Ask your spiritual director, a studious Catholic friend, or your pastor to recommend a commentary based on your needs and intentions.
  • The lives of saints. These can provide helpful spiritual inspiration, but the reader should be discerning when selecting books in this category. There are "good" biographies available, and some are "not so good." Some really old editions indulged in a sentimentality that is not inspiring to the modern reader. Then there are some modern works that focus on revisionist history or on the psychological aspects of the saint's life rather than on the person's relationship with God.
  • Many works by modern spiritual writers are also wonderful reading. As always, be careful that the material is in accord with the the teaching of the Catholic faith! A few titles (old and new) of spiritual books are given below for your consideration.
  • The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" is a book all Catholics should own and read. It is the cornerstone for discovering and understanding Catholic doctrine, beliefs, and the present-day teachings of the Catholic Church.

Here is a short list of spiritual reading books you may want to look into.

This Tremendous Lover by Dom Eugene Boylan
Considered a modern classic in spiritual reading.
The Story of a Soul
The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Her "little way" has inspired many.
Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales
Written in the 1600's but continues to inspire today. It is considered a classic for lay spirituality. Currently it is used as a required reading book in the Diocese of Marquette Lay Ministry Leadership School.
The Fire Within by Fr. Thomas DuBay, S.M.
A rather recent book. It makes the spirituality of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila accessible to the modern reader.
Holy Longing by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser
In his homily a former pastor said, "Spirituality embraces a broad perspective but all coming down to this: in some way or another feeling connected with God — some way or another of finding peace that endures all the ups and downs of daily life. Perhaps most especially it means getting in touch with the healing power of God, the power of God within. All you need to do is to go to a local bookstore and look at the spirituality section. You'll notice it's getting bigger and bigger. Many of the titles are very similar to one another, and many of them have been written in just the last few years. One of the better ones is "Holy Longing."
To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed
The author leads you to look at Christ, His life, and His call with a fresh perspective.
He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.
This book chronicles the author's life while imprisoned in Communist Russia for the faith. Although he is not a canonized saint, his cause is being considered by the Church.
In Conversation With God by Francis Fernandez
A seriesof seven books that provides reflections based on the Church's liturgical year.

 

crossSt. Ignatius Loyola Parish
St. Ignace, Michigan
stigchurch@lighthouse.net
(906) 643-7671
Faith Formation/Catholic Center: (906) 643-8887
crossImmaculate Conception Parish
Moran, Michigan

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