Unleash the Power of Spiritual Reading…
“Who’s your wisdom teacher?” Sister Nancy asked those of us studying to become spiritual directors. “Who do you look up to? Whose life would you like to model? Name them, and then read their books and memoirs so you can learn from their writings.”
Nancy taught us the importance of spiritual reading. She invited us to fill our lives with the rich treasures of new understandings and ideas found in the books of spiritual masters—those people one step ahead of us on life’s pathway.
I chose the writer Richard Hauser, a Jesuit priest, as my wisdom teacher. His book, Moving in the Spirit, changed my understanding of God. Hauser states there are two models for our relationship with the Creator. One’s the correct one, the other—flat out wrong.
Hauser calls the first model the Western model. It suggests when we do good, God rewards us. But when we mess up, the Creator removes his grace and allows us to suffer.
This model is wrong Hauser states. It makes God out to be a puppet-god whose strings we pull by our good actions. The problem with this perspective is that even when we live good lives, bad things still happen. It also suggests God’s the source of the bad things that occur—like the coronavirus.
But the God-of-love is not a sorcerer. Instead, when trouble happens, God showers even more love and grace upon us to help us maneuver through life’s difficulties.
The Spirit is a Moving!
The second model is the scriptural one, according to Hauser. This model says God is always moving in our lives, his Divine love drawing us closer toward wholeness, inner peace, and balance. Our job is to listen and determine where and how God is guiding us, and then respond by following the Spirit’s lead.
The scriptural model reminds us we are God’s Beloved. We’re unconditionally loved by our Creator, and we’ve been gifted with discernment—the Spirit within us that invites us to listen and follow God’s loving nudges.
I like to think of this as the “Where’s Waldo?” life-lens because it invites us to step back and look at the pages of our lives to celebrate those ah-ha-moments when we recognize God’s loving nudges.
Reading Hauser’s books unlocked a key to one of life’s mysteries. I realized my perspective about God was all wrong. Because of Hauser’s wisdom, I stopped trying to be the good little altar boy—the adult-kid always trying to please my daddy—and instead set aside daily quiet time to stop and listen for Divine directions.
This is How We Grow
Writer Reena Mathur says spiritual reading is a vital part of human growth. It deepens our knowledge and makes us a better person.
If you’ve ever met someone full of life, positivity, and happiness, she says, it’s a good bet that person has a habit of reading. Reading a good book has the power to lift your mood and bring the beauty of a smile to your face.
Mathur notes these benefits from spiritual reading:
• Lowered stress levels. Reading spiritual books improves your mental and physical health. Studies have proven that people who read are more likely to stay calm in stressful situations.
• Enhanced power, concentration, and focus. Reading enhances your focus and concentration levels. The words within spiritual books offer constructive ways to empower you.
• New perspectives. Inspirational books expand your thinking and sharpen your imagination. They shower divine light and wisdom upon you.
• Deeper truths. The Bible and other inspirational books teach us deeper truths about life. They define the value and importance of our human souls. They help us understand ourselves, the world, and all creation.
The Saints Agree
St. Ignatius says spiritual reading allows us to savor the wise words that resonate in us through our heart’s imagination. When we read, God speaks to us, says St. Jerome. St. Alphonsus tells us inspirational reading gives us access to the wisdom of spiritual masters.
My buddy Ben told me he reads for at least thirty minutes each day. He goes to bed a little earlier each night so he can wrap himself in blankets and devour the teachings from inspirational books.
I’ve followed Ben’s advice. It’s life-giving.
When I read a spiritual book, my mind has something good to chew on during the day. Rather than grumbling and focusing on what’s wrong with myself and the world, I feed my soul the wisdom I’ve discerned through inspirational books. I ponder their words, allowing them to trickle into my thinking and actions.
When I fall back into negative thinking, it usually means I’ve stopped reading for a few days. It’s as if my monkey mind chatters, “Feed me an inspirational banana!” So, I listen to that nudge and pick up the daily practice of reading again.
Try It. You Might Like It.
This week—especially during these times of sheltering—turn off the distractions, and follow Sister Nancy’s and Ben’s advice.
Go to an on-line library or bookstore and ask God to lead you to a spiritual book. Let the book’s author become your wisdom teacher. Then, like Ben, embrace the practice of reading for thirty minutes each day.
Notice how spiritual reading unlocks life’s mysteries for you and helps you find the Divine flow of inner peace, balance, and wholeness.
Grab a book and unleash the power of spiritual reading.
—brian j plachtabrianplachta.net