Pillar No.6: Spiritual Reading


Spiritual reading is a practice of reading books and articles about spirituality with the purpose of growing in holiness. It is mostly devoted to the reading of lives of saints, writings of Doctors and the Fathers of the Church, theological works written by holy people, and doctrinal writings of Church authorities. It is different from lectio divina which focuses on the Bible.

The Catholic spiritual tradition is full of a great many treasures, all accessible to many thousands of people, deepening their faith and drawing them closer to God. To a spiritual life the reading of holy books is perhaps not less useful than mental prayer. St. Bernard says reading instructs us at once in prayer, and in the practice of virtue. Hence he concluded that spiritual reading and prayer are the arms by which hell is conquered and paradise won. We cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions, and particularly in our doubts; but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us lights and directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will. Hence St. Athanasius used to say that we find no one devoted to the service of the Lord that did not practice spiritual reading.

The biblical basis is St. Paul’s advice “Attend to reading” (1 Tim 4:13) which meant that Timothy his disciple should “apply to the reading of holy books, not in a passing way and for a short time, but regularly and for a considerable time,” said St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Catholic Church.

Click HERE for more information on Spiritual Reading

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