Spiritual reading is devoted to the reading of lives of saints, writings of Doctors and the Fathers of the Church, theological works written by respected and reliable theologians and holy people, and doctrinal writings of Church authorities.
The biblical basis of the practice of spiritual reading is St. Paul's advice, "Attend to reading," (1 Tim 4:13) St. Bernard of Clairvaux said that "spiritual reading and prayer are the arms by which hell is conquered and paradise won." Saint Augustine says that "He who wishes often to be with God ought to pray frequently and read pious books," and all spiritual writers after him, without exception, have insisted on the necessity of spiritual reading for all those who wish to lead a really interior and supernatural life. Holiness is the fruit of prayer, and mental prayer is extremely difficult without the reading of spiritual books. Such reading provides the foundation on which the work of meditation is to be built up.
It is not an easy thing for us to think supernaturally, and an occasional look into a spiritual book will not be sufficient to develop in us the habit of doing so. If we are to keep our judgments sure in a spiritual sense, our outlook on life wise with true wisdom, and our conduct under the guidance and control of motives of faith, spiritual reading must come to form the most substantial element in our daily intellectual nourishment. It is only thus that it will effectively counterbalance the evil tendencies of nature by awakening and sustaining supernatural tendencies in the soul. Spiritual reading substitutes, for the maxims and examples of the world, the maxims and examples of Our Lord and the Saints. In a word, it is a kind of daily invitation to look beyond earth to God and the things of God. Click here to read more about this important Catholic practice.
- sources: St. Alphonsus, Father Edward Leen, C.S.SP., Progress Through Mental Prayer
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