The importance of spiritual reading
Our mission as Legates is to study, live and spread the faith… I want to touch on the importance of studying our faith. As we all know, our purpose in life is to become saints, but how do we practically go about doing this? Of course, the Church teaches us to pray, frequent the sacraments, and to help others, but it also exhorts us to engage in spiritual reading as the normal way to nourish our faith.
I have always been an avid reader, particularly of non-fiction; whether it be biographies, books on business, or any other topic I wanted to learn about. So, when I started getting more serious about my faith, the idea of spiritual reading made perfect sense to me. I was blessed to know Fr. John Hardon, S.J., who lived in the Detroit area and I remember in the ‘80s reading his classic book, The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan. This was my first attempt at systematic spiritual reading.
In our daily lives, we are bombarded with stimulation, so it is very easy for our thoughts to be consumed by hosts of topics, some no doubt important, but none as important as growing in our faith. We all know the importance of eating healthy food in order to be physically fit; in the same way, we need food for our mind in order to nourish our spirit. If we want to be like Christ and His saints, we need to know what they said and did.
Fr. Hardon talked about how many hours a week we spend reading or taking in information through other means, and thus the importance of setting aside time daily for spiritual reading. He also broke down spiritual reading into five categories, which he listed in order of importance. They are: (1) the Scriptures (2) the teachings of the Church (including the Catechism of the Catholic Church) (3) writings on the History of the Church (4) biographical writings of a saint or saintly person (5) any kind of reflection on the preceding categories or more generally spiritual writings.
Let me leave you with a quote I recently came across by Fr. C. John McCloskey, whom many of you know. He wrote, “Good spiritual reading, seriously entered into, will lead to more and better prayer, greater self-denial, and an increased desire to evangelize family, friends and the culture.”
PS – If you want some practical direction on where to start, let me offer the following. Do an internet search by: A Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan by Fr. C. John McCloskey. There is a recent book, How to Read Your Way to Heaven by Vicki Burbach, which has received great reviews.
TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.