Another easy and effective way of arriving at an eminent degree of holiness is spiritual reading. We have pointed out that the reason for so little sanctity in many souls is not weakness or malice, but ignorance.
Spiritual reading dispels this ignorance and helps us to feel all the charm and consolation of God’s blessed love.
Every Catholic should without fail make spiritual reading daily for ten or fifteen minutes. The neglect of this duty is disastrous.
To derive benefit from our reading, we must observe the following rules, which will not only secure satisfactory results but will make our reading attractive and a real pleasure. Read books that appeal to you. It is of elementary prudence to choose proper books, for not every good and excellent book suits all readers.
It must be our aim to find a book or books that make an appeal to us personally, that will grip our attention and act as a driving force, a stimulant to our energies.
Pray before reading. Next, it is well to say a short prayer, one Hail Mary, before commencing our reading, asking Our Blessed Lady to help us to understand what we are reading and to put it into practice.
St. Thomas Aquinas told his fellow Dominican, Father Reginald, that he got his great treasures of knowledge more by prayer than by study.
Read your book not once but many times. It is a fatal mistake to read a book quickly or to read it only once. That produces very little good. We must not read a spiritual book as we read a romance.
However well-written a book may be, the truths it presents are so great that our poor weak minds only succeed in grasping them little by little.
It may treat of the first of all truths, viz., the love of God. Nothing seems easier to understand than that, yet daily experience shows how very vaguely and insufficiently this wonderful doctrine is grasped and, as a consequence, how very little God is loved.
One book read slowly does us more good than a hundred read hurriedly. One fact, one conversation, one little story has often changed the whole tenor of a man’s life.
The following incidents related to the writer by a dear old priest show that even what appears at first sight trivial may exercise a lasting impression on one’s conduct.
“When a student in college,” he told me, “my confessor kindly gave me some advice one day in recreation. It seemed simplicity itself, yet that advice has given me the most profound consolation all the long years of my life and has moreover enabled me to give similar consolation to the souls of many who have consulted me.
“A second incident was my hearing a short story about the Mass some months after my ordination. This left a vivid and indelible impression on me so that I have never celebrated the Holy Sacrifice without thinking of it, and as a result I enjoy deep devotion in saying every Mass.”
A third fact which this good priest mentioned is no less surprising. “A lady friend of mine once said to me, ‘I confess that I feel no special sympathy for your young curate. One thing, however, that he does impresses me very much. When he passes in front of the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament, he genuflects so reverently and looks with such devotion at the Tabernacle that it would seem as if he saw God.’
This remark was made to me thirty years ago, and never once since then have I myself passed in front of the Blessed Sacrament without imitating the example of my curate. This has given me a no-table increase of faith in the Real Presence.”
If then a short conversation, a little story, a few words of advice can make such a deep impression on one’s mind, a book is likely to make much more, for it may contain scores of such facts.
When St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus had become quite ill, she dragged herself with great effort to Church to receive Jesus. One morning, after Holy Communion, she was in her cell, exhausted. One of the sisters remarked that she should not exert herself so much. The Saint replied, “Oh, what are these sufferings to me in comparison with one daily Holy Communion!”— Something not permitted everywhere in her times. She ardently pleaded with Jesus: “Remain within me, as You do in the tabernacle. Do not ever withdraw Your presence from Your little host.” -Jesus Our Eucharistic Love https://amzn.to/2YKBYPX (afflink) , Painting from https://www.facebook.com/sanctuairetheresedelisieux/
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