Encountering God's Presence through Spiritual Writers
“To a spiritual life the reading of holy books is perhaps not less useful than mental prayer. St. Bernard says reading instructs us at once in prayer, and in the practice of virtue.” (St. Alphonsus Liguori) (The Importance of Spiritual Reading)
"Always keep the holy book in your hands, that it may nourish your soul by devout reading." (St. Jerome) (Letter to St. Paulinus; Letters: PL, Vol.22, Col. 579).
When we pray we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us. (St. Jerome)
To derive advantage from pious books it is necessary to read them slowly and with attention. (St. Alphonsus Liguori) (The Importance of Spiritual Reading)
Ways to encounter God through Spiritual Writers
Spiritual writing is any type of communication vehicle, books, Papal exhortations and letters, eBooks, webinars or podcasts, that address a spirituality and contain wisdom relevant to the life of the reader. Spiritual writing opens a whole new and challenging dimension to the reader. For Catholics, the quintessential book of Spiritual Writing is the Holy Bible. We are people of scripture and tradition. Scripture is ALWAYS relevant to our lives. As we change, so does our interpretation of scripture and how it applies to our life. But there are other types of writings and authors outside of the Bible that will lead us to see God in a more transcendent way.
St. Alphonsus Liguori in The Importance of Spiritual Reading gives us this advice on how to gain fruit from our Spiritual Reading:
- Beforehand ask God to enlighten your mind while you read. Open your time of reading with the words of Samuel: Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.
- Do not read in order to acquire learning, nor to indulge curiosity, but for the sole purpose of advancing in divine love.
- Read them slowly and with attention. Like a good meal is not rushed through so a spiritual book should be read slowly, listening to the Spirit to nudge your heart. Stop and dialogue the Spirit about the phrase, the paragraph, the word that caused you pause. Read something a second time or repeatedly anything that has made a lively impression on you.
- Make a good resolution, or a good act, or lift up a prayer to God about the what you have learned from your reading. “Carry it with you as you would carry a flower from a garden of pleasure.”
Spiritual reading and study are essential growth methods in the spiritual journey of discipleship. We must continue to grow and learn from those with gifts of communicating God’s universal love for us. Spiritual writing can help you get there.
Resources and practical suggestions for Encountering God through Spiritual Writers
The list below are some suggested authors and a suggestion of a books. Many of these authors have more than one book and there are many excellent authors not listed. This list is just a starting place.
- Matthew Kelly (Rediscover Jesus)
- Scott Hahn (Hail, Holy Queen)
- Edwina Gateley (Soul Sisters: Women in Scripture Speak to Women Today)
- Henri Nouwen (The Return of the Prodigal Son)
- Saint Teresa of Calcutta (A Simple Path)
- Joyce Rupp (Praying Our Goodbyes)
- Sr. Joan Chittister (The Friendship of Women),
- Bishop Robert Barron (Catholicism).
- Sr. Joan Chittister (Called to Question)
- Ronald Rolheiser (The Holy Longing)
- Richard Rohr (The Divine Dance)
- Brant Pitre (Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist)
- Edward Sri (Who am I to Judge?)
- All the documents written by Pope Francis and our previous popes and the Vatican II documents are available at www.vatican.va. The Vatican II documents are extremely readable and profound. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) remains relevant lo these 50 years later.