Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Reading Has Made Many Saints

As an avid reader, this quote from St. Josemarie Escriva has long been one of my favorites.

It is found in his book: The Way: The Essential Classic of Opus Dei's Founder which I have often meditated on while praying in our parish's Perpetual Adoration chapel.  In it St. Escriva provides wise exhortations in small one-three sentence doses.  Of the years, I have taken many of his "soundbites" to heart and they have been a great help on my spiritual journey.

Reading has been a passion of mine sine I was a young child, when I spent many a peaceful  afternoon browsing the stacks of the local public library or curled up in my bedroom with a good book.  My love of reading has persisted into adulthood and during the years in which I commuted to work, my long two hour commutes became an opportunity to read. As a theology student, I find myself reading not only what is required for a class, but other books on the same subject. A bookworm indeed.

Prior to my conversion, however, I wasn't particularly discerning about what I read.  Over time and through the grace of God I have come to understand that all books are not created equal.  What we feed into our mind, especially through reading which actively engages our imagination, has the ability to impact our souls. I specifically recall reading a novel which had a particularly graphic scene involving a sadistic, abusive sexual act. For days after reading this I had nightmares. The images that my mind had created while reading this scene continued to haunt me for years after I had put the book down. I had been feeding my mind junk food. St. Escriva himself warns sternly:

"Books: don't buy them without advice from a Christian who is learned and prudent. It's so easy to buy something useless or harmful."

After experiencing a powerful conversion, my reading habits changed overnight. I replaced the junk food in my reading diet with a wholesome, healthy diet of spiritual reading. The Lord had ignited in me a great desire to learn more about Him and I read every spiritual book I could get my hands on, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to conversion stories like Dr. Scott and Kimberly Hahn's Rome Sweet Home, to Papal encyclicals, to the lives of the saints and more. Every page of every spiritual book that I have read has fed my soul, much like every bite of every meal that I have eaten has fed my body.  I look back over all the reading that I have done and realize that while I don't remember the details of everything I have read, like all the meals that I have eaten, these books have consistently provided soul-sustaining spiritual nourishment.

I continue to strive for the heights of holiness that is presented in the words of the scriptures and in the words of the many challenging and inspiring spiritual books that I have read..  You can find me, in the trenches of my everyday life, most often with a stack of books close at hand.

Read Related Posts Here:
My Top Ten Favorite Catholic Books

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  1. Very inspiring post, Debbie. Thanks for writing it!

    1. Thanks so much Karee! God bless you!