The benefits of spiritual reading cannot be measured.
Benefits of Spiritual Reading in our life as Catholics
Have you felt a prompting from God to learn more about Him and grow in your faith, but not known where to begin or what to do? Should you pray the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet? Go to Mass more often? Read spiritual books? We have so many options to use to grow in our faith. We are so blessed to have them all, even though it can feel overwhelming at times!
Spiritual reading–even just fifteen minutes a day–can help you to grow in your spiritual life and grow in knowledge about your Catholic faith. What are some of the benefits of spiritual reading?
We learn we are not alone.
Do you ever feel sometimes that you are the only one dealing with a particular issue, or the only one with the specific questions, thoughts, or doubts that you have? When you read spiritual books (autobiographies and biographies, in particular) you learn that you are not alone. Others have had the same or very similar questions, thoughts, and doubts that you do. It is encouraging to know this and it gives you hope, knowing that others, too, sought out answers, just as you are doing.
Knowing that others, especially some of the saints you may admire, had similar questions or doubts can encourage you to learn more about this aspect of our faith and seek out the answers as they did. You may find out the answers they discovered as you read their works or biographies.
When you find out that you share similar questions or thoughts as others did, you realize that you are not alone. You are part of a larger family of persons also seeking the truth and desiring to understand our faith better.
You learn about the spirituality of others.
Growing spiritually does not mean that you will look exactly like St. Mother Teresa. Or St. Vincent de Paul. Or St. Maria Goretti. It means you will look exactly like you. When you learn about the spirituality of others, you can see how different we are from each other.
God made each of us unique. He calls each of us to a different path in life. When we learn about the spirituality of others, we can be inspired to try some of the things that they did instead of becoming discouraged that we are not like them.
We can apply to our lives ideas that we learn from others, like St. Terese of Liseux’s simple trust and faith in God as if she were a child before Him. Or St.Maximum Kolbe’s joy in his focus on sharing our Mother Mary with others so they could draw closer to her and our Lord.
You grow in faith.
As we read spiritual books, we grow in our faith as we learn more about our faith and about others who share out faith. A spiritual book does not need to be focused specifically on doctrine in order for us to learn something from it. We can learn a lot from the lives of the saints, from their struggles, from their insights, and from the way they chose to live their lives.
You grow closer to God in prayer.
As you read more about our Catholic faith and the lives of others who have lived faithful lives, you will probably have a greater desire to pray for yourself and your faith. It is natural to grow in the desire to know and love God even more after spending time reading spiritual books.
A simple prayer before reading is a good way to ask God to guide and lead you in your reading so that you may know and understand what He wants for you to know and understand as you read. You can thank Him, too, for the opportunity you have to read spiritual books, know Him better, and love Him more.
Resources for spiritual reading
What others have to say about spiritual reading
If you are interested in reading more about the benefits of spiritual reading, here are two resources for you:
St. Alphonsus Liguori has written a guide for us about “The Importance of Spiritual Reading” and how to approach spiritual reading in our lives. He includes a beautiful prayer at the end.
On Catholic Exchange, Fr. Ed Broom, OMV writes about “Ten Blessings of Spiritual Reading.”
Let us go forward in faith
May we pick up and read spiritual books more often so that we may come to know, love, and understand our Lord and His gift of the Catholic faith even more than we do now.