Reading is bound to silence … Constant and attentive reading alone devoutly purifies our inner self.

Peter of Celle, in The School of the Cloister

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These are the words of a devoted 12th century monk.  Yes, reading has been a regular course of monastic life.  It furthered a healthy distance from popular culture and advanced personal and spiritual growth, individual contentment, peace and understanding.

Proper reading is no less valuable today in secular culture; indeed, it may be a more vital necessity than it has ever been.  Yet, who among you has a list of key spiritual works?  I dare say: “not many.”

Think of it this way: is your peace not worthy of its pursuit?  Is your appetite for life satisfied by secular culture, its hostility to faith?  Does your family not demand a better more stable, calm and happier you?

Last night I awoke at 2 a.m. and reached for a book by my bedside.  The book? The Book of Catholic Prayer (given to me by my son) and I tuned to the Vigils for Thursday (named “The Night Office”) and recited softly in my silent room the prayers for early morning (in the dark of the pre-dawn new day).  This, the habit of monastics, took all of ten minutes.

The Antiphon was this: “My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life.”

Is this not true of you today?  Of us?  Of this nation? Its people?  Its leadership? In politics?  In business?  In economics?  In law?  Medicine?  In education?

The Vigils ended with these words from the closing prayer: ” … renew within us the grace of the sacraments, first received in our baptism.  Through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

Reading can comfort and conform us to what is good, the good we have been made to seek, to thirst for.

Good reading feeds the soul, grows our faith – safely situates us in a conflicted culture will all its false notions and unwise advocacy.  Reading lifts us out of mass confusion, what is untruth and transports us to what is best in us.  Reading connects us with God and with our inner self.  It offsets the nonsense of daily secularism.  It gives a wider, deeper, longer prospective.  It settles the heart and quiets us.

Reading brings us to Christ.  Renews our identity.  Staves off what destroys and disorders.

Reading makes for healthy space.

Think about it: regular contact with good reading awaits in the classics, in creative writing, in Scripture, in the works of the giants of our faith, in fiction, in poetry, in history, philosophy …

Reading awaits the quieting of your soul and the strengthening of your faith.

Shalom.

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