Spiritual reading is not ordinary reading like reading for information or for pleasure. It is, instead, a type of reading that nourishes our life in the Spirit. It isn’t necessarily a habit reserved for Lent. But it can be a Lenten discipline of sorts.
The sources of my spiritual reading this Lent are the daily Scriptures of Mass and Liturgy of the Hours and a book. I have chosen to read and reflect on The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church by Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP. Her book is based on the Biblical narrative of The Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15: 11-32. Theresa is a former atheist who not only returned to the Church after many years away, but eventually became a Daughter of St. Paul.
My motive for reading this book is that I know quite a number of people who are former Catholics, included some whom I love. They are not necessarily atheists, but a few are, while others have embraced non-Catholic faiths. To be frank, I sometimes feel very upset with the decisions some of them have made. Also, I often do battle within myself trying to discern my role in the lives of these loved ones. What should I say or do? What should I not say or not do?
This book has been helpful in many ways. One thing I have gleaned from this reading is realizing that God loves and cares for those who have wandered far from Him and will not abandon them. I knew that already but this book brought it home to me in a new way. God’s grace reaches through the pages of the book to my spirit.
Without delving into details, I want to mention that there are some practical helps in the book which I can latch onto. One is accepting doubt. Another is respecting free will. Currently I am reading a chapter about the power of suffering.
I will conclude by saying that The Prodigal You Love, although it is about inviting family members and friends back to the Church, is also full of inspiration on living the Catholic way of life well, and that’s why I find it good Lenten reading.
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If you want to know more about spiritual reading this essay may be helpful: “Spiritual Reading – Who Needs It?” by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Here is another perspective on spiritual reading: “Read Any Good Books?: A Plan for a Lifetime of Spiritual Reading” by Fr. John McCloskey.
For me, the best source for guidance about spiritual reading is a book, which I believe is now out-of-print. Susan Muto is the author of A Practical Guide to Spiritual Reading. It has annotated summaries of many classical Catholic books, as well as as some methods for doing spiritual reading. If you do some research, you may find a good used copy.