Summer Spiritual Reading

How do you read more? How do you find the time to pick up a good book and finish it in a reasonable amount of time? We all have responsibilities, things that need to be done, work, hobbies, and people that fill up our time. How do we squeeze a 300-page book into our busy schedules?

Josh Raymond’s solution is simple: “Watch less television.”

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Growing up, he had no television in the house, so whenever he was in the living room, he either talked or spent time with whoever else was in the room, or he had to find something creative to do. Many times, that came down to reading a book.

Josh continues this tradition in his home with his family. They have no television in the living room. Instead, they have one set up in their basement where they will sometimes gather to watch TV as a family. By relegating the TV room to the basement, they must be more deliberate about going downstairs to use it. Otherwise, they find something else to do, like read a book.

Father Michael Hurley, OP joined Josh on The Inner Life to talk about what some great spiritual reading options might be for this summer, especially if you want to relax outside and get away from the television.

Josh began the conversation by explaining that spiritual reading is not only important but is necessary to our development as Catholics. Father Michael agreed, likening it to a plant’s necessity for water and sunlight.

“We are made in God’s image and likeness and that includes the ability to know, and to wonder, and to engage in the world,” said Father Michael. “And reading is not only the tactile exercise of using your eyes and vision – or listening – but it forms our mind. It sparks our imagination. It engages us fully in that intellectual capacity that God has given us.”

Father recalled hearing about the Lord of the Rings movie release years ago. He had not yet read the books, but he knew he was probably going to see the movies at some point and did not want his imagination or perception of the Lord of the Rings world to be informed by the movies.

The building of a universe in one’s mind is an exercise that builds imagination in a much more creative way than just being presented with ideas visually.

“And so, if you translate that spiritually, when we read and we encounter the great ideas of our faith, hope, and love that some of the spiritual giants have given us, and that God Himself has revealed to us in His Word, it forms our minds, our imagination, and it makes us truly more like God.”

Josh talked about the different approaches we should take to the different types of reading we are doing. When reading a novel or a biography, it’s easy to read the book very quickly if the story is compelling. The journey is interesting and dynamic, and you can’t wait until you reach the climax and conclusion. But with a spiritual book, it’s much different.

“I want to stop after I’ve had an insight and not forget that. I want to give myself time to actually process and reflect on it. And so, spiritual reading can be something that actually moves at a slower pace than recreational reading, but that’s absolutely okay, and might even be preferable.”

Josh said he likes audiobooks, but only for leisure books. For spiritual reading, he wants the hard copy. He wants to be able to go back, reread passages, remember the insights that he had, discover new insights, and always have access to that.

Josh and Father Michael closed by recommending several books to read this summer:

  • Books by Louis de Wohl – The Last Crusader, Citadel of God, Lay Siege to Heaven, The Joyful Beggar, The Spear
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller, Jr. – a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel focusing on a Catholic monastery over the course of thousands of years as civilization rebuilds.
  • Mysterion by Father Harrison Ayre – a return to the Sacramental worldview, the forgotten way of living the Christian life in a way that allows us to be “in Christ, participate in Christ’s life, and allow Christ to live in us.”
  • Joan of Arc by Mark Twain – a semi-fictionalized novel about Joan of Arc’s life. Twain contended that her life was the greatest argument for God’s existence. “I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well.” – Mark Twain
  • Baltimore Catechism – a great option for younger kids who are still being prepared for the sacraments. Best tool for memorizing the vital dogmas of our faith.

Tune in to The Inner Life weekdays at 11am CT

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.