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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Navigating the Interior Life Wk 3 of 6

March 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

Navigating the Interior Life Week 3 of 6

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Spiritual Reading

As part of any spiritual growth program, the seeker must be prepared to focus energies toward the preeminent goal of dynamic union with Christ. One critical aspect of this journey involves intellectual formation through spiritual reading the-good-portion-pictureand study, leading to a more mature ability to discern truth from error. A life-habit of regular spiritual reading and study is a key to successful navigation around the dangers of human frailty and deception (including self-deception). Regular reading and study prepare and arm us for the “spiritual warfare” we encounter as we get serious about our spiritual life. – Navigating the Interior Life, p. 24 (How Do I Find and Select a Spiritual Director: Preparing for the Search, paragraph 1)

Spiritual reading is a means of “preparing the soil” so that we are ready to make great progress with spiritual direction, once we enter into a relationship. For those who have a spiritual director, spiritual reading can help them to accelerate their spiritual growth, germinating the seed, and allowing those seeds of holiness to spout.

As an avid reader, I’ve been devoted to the notion of spiritual reading since my conversion, 18 years ago.  Today I thought I would share with you 5 things I’ve learned about spiritual reading throughout the years.

1.  Spiritual Reading Arms us for Battle!

We are assaulted daily by a culture that promotes the absolute antithesis of the virtues we want to exemplify. Spiritual reading helps train us to recognize the lies of the culture, and to promote and defend the TRUTH, who is Jesus Christ.

We are the Church Militant. Ephesians 6:11-17 tells us,

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I won’t belabor this point, but we are at war. And we must be armed for the battle.

2. Spiritual Reading Helps us to Know God. 

In a First Communion Catechism, we can find the question that is a top priority for each of us: What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?  The answer is, We must know, love and serve God in this world.

How can we love and serve Him without KNOWING Him?”

Frank Sheed in Theology for Beginners says, “While it is obvious that an ignorant man can be virtuous, it is equally obvious that ignorance is not virtue; men have been martyred who could not have stated a doctrine of the Church correctly, and martyrdom is the supreme proof of love. Yet with more knowledge of God, they would have loved Him more still.”

3. Spiritual Reading Has Produced Many Saints.

Saint Augustine, Saint Ignatius, John Henry Newman and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux are only a few of the saints that were highly influenced by spiritual reading.

After very little study of the saints, one can be confident that they held spiritual reading in high regard. In Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales instructs, “Have always before you some good and pious book, and read a little in it each day with devotion, as if you were reading letters which the saints had sent you from Heaven, to show you the way and encourage you to follow it.”

In Counsels of Perfection for Christian Mothers, Rev. P. Lejeune says, “Why have the saints so highly extolled the advantages of spiritual reading? Why have they exalted it – almost to a level with prayer? …It arises from the fact that spiritual reading is one of the principal sources whence we draw light.”

4.  Scripture is Essential.

According to the Catechism, “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing through the breath of the Holy Spirit.” According to Pope Benedict XVI, “The Church does not live on herself but on the Gospel, and in the Gospel always and ever anew finds the directions for her journey.”

5.  Choices Matter.

What to read, in addition to Scripture and the Catechism?  There are hundreds of thousands of choices.  Most importantly, find a reliable source. Dan Burke provides a wonderful list in his book under “Faithful Guidance in the Spiritual Life.” Father C. John McCloskey has developed an extensive list, entitled A Catholic Lifetime Reading List. It includes books on spirituality, as well as theology, history, literary classics, books about holy men and women who’ve gone before us, and others.

 

Whether or not you've established a relationship with a spiritual director at this point, if you belong to this book club, or if you’ve done any faithful spiritual reading, you’ve been preparing your soul for the moment you find that spiritual director and step into that first meeting. And if you have established a relationship with a spiritual director and you continue with your spiritual reading, you either continue to till the soil, or you have begun to water the seeds that have been planted through the wisdom of your spiritual director. The key is to maintain focus, and not to allow your excitement keep you from sanctifying the quiet time spent at the feet of our Lord.

So let's continue to fill our souls with the great wisdom offered within the pages of each of these beautiful works, allowing the Holy Spirit to use spiritual reading as a tool to mold each of us into Christ; so that like Paul, we can say “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

 

For Discussion:

1. Is spiritual reading part of your schedule every day?  Please share with us any additional advice you have to offer regarding spiritual reading.

2. Open discussion: Feel free to comment on any topic from this past week's reading.

Reading Assignment:

Week 4 –  p. 53-84 (E-Readers: I Can't Find One, Now What? through the end of Spiritual Self-Examination)

CLICK HERE to REGISTER for Webinar Discussion on 4/13 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM Central Time U.S.

NOTE: For more information on this reading and the corresponding free webinars you can sign up for CLICK HERE. There are still a few seats left so don't delay if you want to have an online conversation with Dan, Fr. Vince Huber, our fellow readers, and me.

Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

For More Information on the Book Club: https://spiritualdirection.com/csd-book-club

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the SpiritualDirection.com book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at pelicansbreast.com

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