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Last year, Forbes magazine reported, “The average adult consumes five times more information every day than their counterpart 50 years ago.” It went on to suggest that Americans can spend 12 hours a day looking at screens!
This is no diatribe against technology — after all, these thoughts were penned for a Catholic website. But there is something to be said for books. Reading a print book is contemplative, restful, and inspiring in ways that watching television or scrolling social media are not. So why not start 2020 with a new commitment to spiritual reading? Here are five reasons to consider it:
Prayer is always a grace.
Jesus himself invites us to know and love him through the intimate conversation we call prayer. Nevertheless, in a certain respect, prayer is an input output game. What goes in, comes out. Spiritual reading helps train our minds to think of higher things and allows us to enter more easily into conversation with God. When we engage in reading about the life of Jesus or the mysteries of our faith, it becomes easier to mull them over with God in prayer.
To evangelize, we have to have things to say.
How can I tell someone about my love for Christ without words? Spiritual reading helps shape and color our own experiences of the Lord. By giving words to the faith or considering the experiences of the saints, sharing our own love for the faith will come more readily, with a more natural feel.
We are surrounded by media.
Every website, news channel or radio station has a set of guiding principles that inform the stories they present and the way those stories are shared. Only the Gospel is free from ideology. Only spiritual reading, the Scriptures and the lives of holy Christian men and women, can refresh us and lift us out of the mire which so often drags us down.
God speaks to us in the Scriptures.
We hear excerpts from the Bible each Sunday in Mass. However, deciding to regularly read the Scriptures allows a Christian to hear God speaking directly to one’s own heart in a particularly intimate way. The Gospels and the Letters of the New Testament hold pride of place as they offer the heights of the story of our salvation and present in simple terms stories of consolation and joy.
Faith must be real.
We may be tempted to pick up a biography or treatise and force ourselves to enjoy it. “Such and such a saint” is incredible, we’ve heard. But we may very well not like every work we come across; Reading a breadth of spiritual works allows us to become more fully ourselves. We must not be afraid to soften the edges of our vices or expand the horizon of our own views. In so doing our faith will become more completely our own.
Looking for some suggestions? Check out this list from Aleteia. Take an hour and peruse the shelves of a local Catholic bookshop. Order a few things online or pick up a couple of books from your local library. You won’t regret it!
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