The Power of a Good Book


From An Easy Way to Become a Saint by Father Paul O’Sullivan, 1950’s

St. Augustine was one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived. Unfortunately, he was plunged for many years in error and vice. One of the chief means which made him a great saint was the reading of a good book, the life of St. Antony of the Desert.

St. Ignatius was a rough soldier, trained in the camp and not given much to piety, yet by reading one book he became the great saint that he is. He himself has written a book, The Spiritual Exercises, which has converted and sanctified thousands of its readers.

St. John Columbini was a very lax and indifferent Christian. Dinner was delayed one day, and he became very irritated. His wife offered him a book to amuse him until such time as dinner was served. Glancing at the title and seeing that it was a pious book, he flung it on the floor in a fury.

Regretting this insult to his wife, he picked it up sat down and began to read it. So great was the impression it made on him that he changed his whole life and became a saint.

La Harpe taught the most impious doctrines, which he published in books very cleverly written, causing great harm to his readers. He was thrown into prison, where the solitude proved almost intolerable.

He found a pious book, which, though far from his liking, he read for amusement. Gradually, he became engrossed in it and read chapter after chapter. He was completely converted.

On leaving the prison, he dedicated the rest of his life to writing charming books, in a noble effort to undo all the mischief he had formerly done.

One of the gravest problems that defied the ablest American statesmen for many years was abolition of slavery. Congress after Congress, Administration after Administration came and went in the effort to help the unfortunate slaves.

Finally, a lady writer published a book, the story of a poor slave, which aroused the indignation of all who read it. This book made it feasible for the government to abolish slavery forever in the United States and to set free the millions of slaves who were held in cruel bondage.

A good book that appeals to us is the best and most powerful of preachers. It enlightens us, it stimulates us, it consoles us. We ourselves see every day the wonderful results obtained by the reading of even short, pithy pamphlets.

A celebrated London barrister, himself a convert, distributes small pamphlets, leaving them in trams and trains, on benches in the parks or streets. By this means he has done considerable good. We shall mention one case.

Returning home after a busy day, he put one of these leaflets on a railing in front of a house. A Protestant policeman seeing it, put it in his pocket and went home. As a result of reading it, he and all his family became fervent Catholics.

Frank Estis, a young American officer, wounded in the War, found the long hours in bed so tiresome that he asked his friends to bring him something to read. They brought Catholic magazines, which were eagerly read, not only by Frank but by all the men in the hospital ward.

At the end of eight months, he was able to count on many conversions of Protestants and lapsed Catholics!

On leaving the hospital, he and some others began to visit the hospitals, prisons of the city, the houses of the poor, and they now count hundreds of conversions every year.

It is then sheer madness for Catholics not to give ten or fifteen minutes every day to reading some good book. No one should dare to dispense himself from this imperative duty.

St. Dominic, great saint as he was, though constantly preaching, and spending whole nights in prayer, yet found time to read assiduously the lives of the Saints.

St. Thomas of Aquinas, a prodigy of learning and sanctity, did likewise and found his delights in such reading. And so, too, did all the Saints.

Good reading is so pleasant and easy a way of reaching an eminent degree of sanctity that it commends itself to everyone.

“The bone-dry definitions in the catechism are as essential as the recipe for the cake, but if we put them together with imagination and enthusiasm, and add love and experience, then set them afire with the teaching of Christ, His stories, His life, the Old Testament as well as the New, and the lives of the saints, we can make the study of catechism a tremendous adventure.” -Mary Reed Newland, http://amzn.to/2wSJI3w

Coloring pages for your children….

Excellent books! With God in Russia and the sequel He Leadeth Me!

You won’t be disappointed!

“In With God in Russia, Ciszek reflects on his daily life as a prisoner, the labor he endured while working in the mines and on construction gangs, his unwavering faith in God, and his firm devotion to his vows and vocation. Enduring brutal conditions, Ciszek risked his life to offer spiritual guidance to fellow prisoners who could easily have exposed him for their own gains. He chronicles these experiences with grace, humility, and candor, from his secret work leading mass and hearing confessions within the prison grounds, to his participation in a major gulag uprising, to his own “resurrection”—his eventual release in a prisoner exchange in October 1963 which astonished all who had feared he was dead.

Powerful and inspirational, With God in Russia captures the heroic patience, endurance, and religious conviction of a man whose life embodied the Christian ideals that sustained him.”

Available here.

“He Leadeth Me is a deeply personal story of one man’s spiritual odyssey and the unflagging faith which enabled him to survive the ordeal that wrenched his body and spirit to near collapse. Captured by a Russian army during World War II and convicted of being a “Vatican spy,” Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek spent some 23 agonizing years in Soviet prisons and the labor camps of Siberia. Learning to accept even the inhuman work of toiling in the infamous Siberian salt mines as a labor pleasing to God, he was able to turn the adverse forces of circumstance into a source of positive value and a means of drawing closer to the compassionate and never-forsaking Divine Spirit. He Leadeth Me is a book to inspire all Christians to greater faith and trust in God—even in their darkest hour. For, as the author asks, “What can ultimately trouble the soul that accepts every moment of every day as a gift from the hands of God and strives always to do his will?”

Available here.

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