Can We Read Our Way To Heaven? 

Our blogger, Elizabeth posted the following request a short while ago…

Just wondering if we could perhaps start another topic on what our bloggers are reading at the moment? Spiritual reading that is. I could start off by saying that I am loving Cardinal Sarah’s book on Silence. It is beautifully written, perceptive, and does bring home the need for quiet in this clamorous world of ours.

So… share with us the answer to Elizabeth’s question:  what are you reading at the present time?  Or maybe you think things are so bad in the Church right now, that we must all be busy ‘about our Father’s business?’ Let’s hear it…

36 responses

  1. Info through peaks and troughs. I would like to do at least a bit of reading every day. Right now I’m reading “Our Dominican Life” by F D Joret OP and “Dominican Saints” by Dominican Novices.

  2. Elizabeth,

    Currently, I’m making my way slowly through The Imitation of Christ, for the umpteenth time. It never fails to be a source of instruction and consolation for me.

  3. Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ– beautiful, insightful and always uplifting – has long been one of my favourite spiritual reading texts.

    I have to confess, however, to having allowed myself to slip into laziness in spiritual reading. I have always been an avid reader and the day is definitely different, much improved, when even a short while, even fifteen minutes or so, is devoted to spiritual reading, so this thread is already motivating me to return to my former glory, so to speak, as a regular reader of ATS (all things spiritual !)

    • I have that book, his autobiography Treasure in Clay, and more of his books. It’s a mini-Sheen collection.

  4. I very much concur about the brilliant book by Cardinal Sarah on Silence. I have read most of it but have not got right through it yet. However it is outstanding. It really is about spiritual growth. My trouble is that I have just too many books on the go at the same time. I am also trying to get through St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica (his shortened version) and I have two thick tomes on Theology sitting waiting for me to start on. I can strongly recommend “Inside the Atheist Mind” by Anthony De Stefano. I have actually read all of that and I found it most illuminating. I got onto that one from watching the author being interviewed on EWTN.

  5. I am reading ‘Sanctify Your Daily Life’ by Cardinal Wyszynski. It has some very helpful insights for me as I find the world of work very trying at times.
    I ‘ve just finished re-reading ‘Calls from the Message of Fatima’ by Sister Lucia of Fatima. It is a simple but beautiful book which has largely been overlooked, possibly because some of the thorny and controversial issues surrounding Fatima weren’t addressed in it, but it’s very good for all that. It basically reminds us that above all, Fatima is a call to holiness, to do what we can to save our own souls and to help save the souls of others. It is divided more or less into three parts – twenty or so different ‘calls’ or aspects of the Fatima message to dwell on; the Ten Commandments, and then meditations on the mysteries of the rosary.

  6. I find it very difficult to read (anything) these days which is a shame, as I was an avid reader in my youth.

    Now I am terrible for starting books – especially religious ones – and not finishing them and I seem to struggle to get through even smallish books (unless on holiday, for example.)

    I suppose it comes with the territory of being a parent, but I do miss it.

    I hope to use this thread as a springboard for my spiritual reading going forward!

  7. Some of the early Fathers – right now, John Cassian and St. Maximus the Confessor. St. Maximus is a bit lofty, but he certainly elevates one’s thoughts above the current sordid state of the Church, and the tendency to respond in kind. Cassian’s Institutes and Conferences are incredibly helpful, I could read them 20 times and still find more food for spiritual warfare.

  8. With it being The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows to- morrow could I suggest this could be ideal spiritual reading for the next few days.

    • John, I look forward to watching/reading your video tomorrow – thank you for posting it ahead of the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows tomorrow, 15 September.

    • John

      Yes, it is a very good idea for all of us to contemplate the Sorrows of Our Lady, very fruitful for the soul.

      I have started reading a book entitled “The Devotion to the Sacred Heart”, by Fr. John Croiset S.J.

      Fr. Croiset composed the work which was published in 1691, one year after the death of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. He was in correspondence with the saint for many years and she indicated to him that Our Saviour wanted this book to be written. I have only just started the read but it looks like it’s going to be a very beneficial exercise.

      • Athanasius,
        It’s brilliant. I’ve been going on about this book for years to whoever would care to listen. The cover states that this book “is not ‘just another book on the Sacred Heart devotion’, but it can be truly said to be THE book on this devotion. Written by the spiritual director of St Margaret Mary, the book comes from the pen of a man intimately familiar with every aspect of the revelations given by Our Lord to this famous saint; thus the book is actually the ‘key’ to understanding the importance and the centrality of the Sacred Heart devotion for our lives as true Catholics. But even more than being THE book on the Sacred Heart devotion, Fr Croiset’s work is a revelation to us all just why so few people become great saints, just why so few Catholics – despite going frequently to the Sacraments – fail really to grow in the life of grace and make great progress in the spiritual order. ‘Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus’ was actually commissioned by Our Lord Himself through St Margaret Mary, and as the author neared completion of it, the Saint told him that Our Lord said it was so completely in accord with His wishes, that it would never be necessary to make any change in it. Later she revealed to Fr Croiset that it was Our Lord Himself who had inspired him with the ideas in this book and that it was so pleasing to Him that ‘none other but Himself could have arranged everything so much to His wishes . . . ” It’s available here:-

    • John,

      That’s just beautiful. So very beautiful. Thank you for posting it for this Feast of Our Lady’s sorrows.

    • John,

      I’ve just listened to the video now, and read the reflection, and it is really lovely. Very touching.

      Reading the Hail Mary at the end did jar, unfortunately, with the “you” instead of “thee” etc. That apart, however, I found the video clip very moving. Thank you very much for posting it.

  9. I find that reading spiritual works really re-charges the old batteries. Four of my favourites, not in any particular order:

    1. The Imitation of Christ;
    2. St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of A Soul (her autobiography);
    3. Lorenzo Scupoli, The Spiritual Combat;
    4. St. Augustine, The Confessions.

    St. John Chrysostom was, of course, writing before the invention of printing, so it is highly probable that his advice is directed at monks, or at least to clergy with access to a library. But I am sure that had he been writing today, he would have directed his advice to all.

    However, let it not be forgotten that the most important spiritual literature is Sacred Scripture which Catholics still tend to neglect. As Christians we really ought to be thoroughly versed in God’s own word and not just in the extracts proposed at Sunday Mass.

    I might add that the scandals currently at the door are also the consequence of the breakdown of priestly identity after Vatican II, part of which is the neglect of the spiritual and ascetical life. Priests are being highly imprudent when they don’t delve into this aspect of tradition which would expose them to some of the finest examples of priestly lives lived in fidelity.

    • Prognosticum

      You’re absolutely right about the importance of reading Sacred Scripture. I confess that I haven’t kept this up the way I should. Sister Lucy of Fatima pointed to Sacred Scripture as the best of all spiritual reading, so I must do better.

      The crisis in the Church today, as you have strongly indicated, has been brought about largely as a result of priests neglecting prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and their spiritual reading, particularly the Breviary. Priests were once obliged to read the Breviary every day, but Vatican II negated the obligation and now we see the tragedy of that fatal decision.

      • Actually, Sister Lucia of Fatima’s book ‘Calls from the Message of Fatima’ is full of quotes from Scripture.

        • Westminsterfly

          Indeed it is! In fact, Sister Lucy said the content of the Third Secret can be found in Apocalyse, chapters 8-13 where we find the “woman clothed in white” (symbol of Our Lady and the Church) confronted by the “great red dragon” in the final battle. The description of the dragon’s tail dragging a third part of the stars of heaven down to earth is generally understood to refer to the loss of faith of many prelates in the Church.

  10. Prognosticum,

    My choice of Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ is precisely because he contextualises Sacred Scripture in both biblical and cultural scholarship while managing to interpret it with insight and apply it to modern times. It’s a beautiful read.

  11. I just like dipping into the lives of the saints, especially the female saints like Catherine of Siena and I also like to read some of the sermons of Cardinal Newman. You can get them online.

  12. St. John Chrysostom is one of my favourites. Read his homilies on Baptism and the Eucharist. Has anyone read Fr. Rutler’s new book? ‘Calm in Chaos’ (Ignatius Press). It should [act like] a tonic in these upside-down times.

  13. I don’t do as much spiritual reading as I ought to but I do sometimes dip into the bible. I’m glad to have some ideas here for reading, and will have to up my game in the future, LOL!

  14. Can anyone recommend a good book of meditations on the rosary, preferably one which gives the correct days liturgically, i.e. what day for which mystery (I know them but want it for someone else who keeps saying the mysteries in the wrong order, e.g. the Joyful on Tuesday when it should be the Sorrowful, the Sorrowful on Wednesday when it should be the Glorious, and so it goes on.. I’ve tried to explain that the rosary is a liturgical prayer but it makes no difference.) When I Googled to find one myself I can’t find anything that doesn’t include the new Luminous mysteries and they knock out the correct days anyway!

    Any help will be appreciated.

  15. I didn’t know that the Rosary followed the Church’s liturgical year. How interesting and edifying! I don’t get much time to read but when I do, I’m inclined to read Scripture, especially the psalms. I also find that it’s fairly easy to pray whilst doing (endless!!) domestic chores as long as it’s repetitive prayer, for example non stop memorares or is it “memorari”?!!

  16. I have a copy of the First Saturday Meditation Manual with a Preface by Fr Nicholas Gruner, on how to make the First Saturday Reparatory Devotions. And includes meditating on the fifteen decades of the Rosary, going to Confession on the day. It is worthwhile having. Am sure I obtained my copy at a Catholic Truth Conference, where some members from the Fatima Centre had brought books and literature.

    Why not have a look at and maybe ask for a copy or more than one.