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This Is The Spiritual Reading Edition
Over the years, I’ve accumulated and read quite a number of books that I have found helpful in developing and living a spiritual life. If I was better at applying them to my personal circumstances…well, that’s why the spiritual life is a journey, right? We know the destination, we know the path to get there – but diversions and distractions and temptations can take us into places we didn’t intend to visit. Fortunately, God’s grace is abundant and sufficient – and one source of that grace has been a good number of these books.
Holy Scripture notwithstanding (no brainer there!), here are three that I’ve found particularly helpful. There are so many more I could write about, but this is, after all, 3½ Time-Outs.
My Imitation of Christ – Thomas a Kempis
I bring this with me to my Holy Hour at the Adoration Chapel. If there’s one chapter that I rely on and reread often – and there are many! – it would have to be “The Royal Way Of The Holy Cross”, Ch 12, Bk II. Every line is packed.
“In the cross is salvation; in the cross is life; in the cross is protection from thy enemies. In the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness; in the cross is strength of mind; in the cross is joy of spirit. In the cross is the height of virtue; in the cross is perfection of sanctity. There is no health of soul nor hope of eternal life but in the cross.”
“If indeed, there had been anything better and more beneficial to man’s salvation than suffering, Christ certainly would have shown it by word and example.”
The Sinner’s Guide - Venerable Louis of Granada
He was, according to the book, “the favorite spiritual writer of St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, St Francis de Sales, St Charles Borromeo, St Vincent de Paul, and St Rose of Lima”. Okay then! Works for me!
I bring this one to Holy Hour with me as well, and I have found it beneficial if I’m struggling with a particular vice, or need to work on a particular virtue. The book “strips away the glamour of sin, fortifying the soul for the resolute practice of the Christian virtues – those true riches which alone will accompany him beyond the grave”.
I am drawn most to Chapter 27: “Of those who allege that the Path of Virtue is too Difficult”. It starts thus:
“As virtue is entirely conformable to reason, there is nothing in its own nature which renders it burdensome. The difficulty, therefore, which is here objected arises not from virtue, but from the evil inclinations and appetites implanted in us by sin.”
“Are you not expected to do something for the salvation of your soul? Will you not do at least as much for this grand purpose, for eternity, as you do for your body and for time, which for you is rapidly passing away and will soon leave you at the tomb. What is a little suffering in this life, if you are spared everlasting torment?”
I have quite a bit of that chapter underlined and highlighted. It’s challenging, but I need it.
The Four Last Things – Fr Martin von Cochem
Whenever I need to lift my spirits, I read the chapters on Heaven. Whenever I need a kick in the pants about staying on the straight and narrow, I go over the ones on Hell. It’s useful like that!
What have you found helpful? If I could add a couple more, I’d include
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