Throughout Lent we will be posting here on our pillars of Catholic Spirituality. Each week we will have guest bloggers from throughout the Helena diocese get us started by sharing their stories and experiences, and we invite each of you to share your thoughts, questions and stories. Postings will also contain podcasts from throughout Lent and additional resources for spiritual growth. It is through this sharing together, that we will help each other grow to be the best version of ourselves.
Are you ready? Be Bold. Be Catholic. Let's get started!
Fasting-Discipline-58:40 on your counter / Chapter 7
Question from Matthew Kelly: What would be the hardest thing for you to fast from for one day each week? Would you consider giving up that one thing for one day each week?
Spiritual Reading-1:14:23 on your counter / Chapter 8
Question from Matthew Kelly: What is the last really good Catholic book you read? If you read a great Catholic book for fifteen minutes every day for the rest of your life, how would your life and spirituality improve?
During my recent talks I spoke about the importance of spiritual reading. I also offered to email a list of ten books to anyone who was looking for some direction in this area. This is a list of books that have changed my life. I love books. I love reading them. I love writing them. I love just holding a good book. A spiritual director has the opportunity and the privilege to suggest books specifically to suit a persons place in the journey. In this case, I do not have that luxury and have tried to put together a list for a very large group of people at varying places in the journey. The criteria I have used in putting this list together are as follows.
I have tried to suggest books that would:
1. Renew our spiritual orientation by reminding us that we are each called to become the-best-version-of-ourselves.
2. Give us the practical tools to grow in the spiritual life.
3. Awaken our spiritual senses and inspire us to focus more of our time and efforts on the spiritual life. The list is not perfect, but these are great books. Please try not to judge the list.
On a practical note, I would suggest reading them in the order presented below. I have not ranked them in order of preference, but rather, in the order I feel would be most beneficial to the reader. When I first wrote this list I assumed that the reader had already read "The Rhythm of Life" and "Rediscover Catholicism"... so if you have not already... I suggest you start with these to help you understand the context in which I am recommending these other titles.
Remember, fifteen minutes of good spiritual reading a day... not two hours today and none for two weeks... OUR LIVES CHANGE WHEN OUR HABITS CHANGE.
1. JESUS SHOCK by Peter Kreeft
2. LET YOUR LIFE SPEAK by Parker Palmer
3. MADE FOR MORE by Curtis Maritn
4. AS A MAN THINKETH by James Allen
5. IN HIS SPIRIT by Richard Hauser, S.J.
6. CONFESSIONS OF A MEGA CHURCH PASTOR by Allen Hunt
7. THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS by C. S. Lewis
8. MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING by Victor Frankl
9. CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE by Richard J. Foster
10. ABANDONMENT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE by Jean-Pierre De Caussade Many of these titles are available for free (s+h not included) at DynamicCatholic.com.
Finally, before you begin reading, it may be helpful to go back and read the chapter on spiritual reading in Rediscover Catholicism... even if you are not Catholic I hope it will be fruitful to your understanding of Spiritual Reading as one of the great intellectual and spiritual traditions of Christianity.
May God bless you with a prayerful spirit, a peaceful heart, and a mind that yearns for truth,
Matthew Kelly Founder of Dynamic Catholic
ADDED NOTE: All recommended books can be found at www.DynamicCatholic.com After Easter, we will begin book clubs for those interested in reading Rediscovering Catholicism. Online and inperson study groups will be made available. Please comment below or contact Steve and Ann for more information. 586-9243 extention 210 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When I was a kid I thought that Mass was the most boring thing on earth. I figured it was God’s way of punishing me for my sins. I would sit and stare at the stain glass windows in my home parish, St. Joseph’s in Salem, OR, and just wonder how those figures staring back at me did it. I mean, how did they pose looking so holy? It wasn’t until my high school years that my eyes would be opened. I knew so much about what to do at mass that I had never really stopped to think about what it was all for. I then began to meet people through my local youth group that had a relationship with this person that we were worshipping each Sunday. It was during that time that my heart was opened to the Lord and His love for me. The mass is not about a “what.” What is the best liturgical music, what the homily should be on, what are other people doing, what can I do to prove to others or to God that I am a good person? No. It’s about a “who.” It is a relationship with Jesus. We go to mass to encounter God is the most intimate way that exists, a way that he gave us during the last supper. We go to receive. The mass is about a person. Jesus knows my heart better than anyone else and he knows exactly what I need. So whether I am bored, tired, angry, sad, joyful, thankful, or just showing up, Christ meets me right where I am at because he knows me. And Jesus knows that just going through the motions isn’t what will truly bring me fulfillment. He wants to transform me from the inside out. This is why he gave us the Eucharist. I feel closest to the Lord at mass because of how close he wants to be to me. It is a chance for me to lay down everything on the altar. My hopes, my prayers, my worries, my needs, all that I am on the altar when we participate in what Christ did for us. So rather than coming to mass to see what I can “get out of it,” I should be coming to mass to see what I can give. Then and only then can I be empty to receive and then go forth to “love and serve the Lord.”
Sean Courtney Admissions Counselor Carroll College
Two of my favorite things about Western Montana are mountains and swift flowing streams. We know that mountains are not easy to climb and that the higher we get the better the view. I have my favorite spots where I have sat for hours contemplating life, enjoying the beauty and wonderment of God’s creation. Always leaving with a sense of Awe. Our mountain streams are the headwaters, the source of two great river systems, the Columbia and the Missouri. As a source of clean and pure water these streams are used for drinking water by many of our towns and cities. Yet the cowboy in me knows that when moving cattle, always drink upstream from the herd. So what do mountains and streams have to do with the Mass? The Church teaches that “the Eucharistic Sacrifice (the Mass) is the Source and Summit of Christian life.”(LG #11) Do we see Mass as the starting point and clearest view of God’s plan for us? Matthew Kelly’s video describes complaints about what is wrong with the Mass, and he hit the nail on the head saying that We are the problem. We muddy the waters with our complaints, our divisions, our complacency, our misunderstandings. We try to drink from the muddy water instead of the pure, clean water of life that is every Mass. We are content with a view of life from the bottom of the mountain instead of climbing to a vantage point for a clear and awe inspiring view of God’s plan. Don’t get me wrong, I have muddied my share of water and have been content at times with cloudy vistas.The Mass is meant to be interactive. It helps me to take one small action of the Mass, the offertory procession for example. Learn what the Church teaches about it. Find my part and responsibility in it. Ask myself “How many pints of my blood am I putting on the Alter today?” I find that when I give more I receive more. Thanks be to God!
Deacon Chris Burgmeier St. Michael, Drummond St. Philip, Philipsburg
Almost a decade ago a friend asked me to join a scripture study on the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians. I was skeptical. My experience with scripture up to this point had been solely a Mass based experience. Sure there were stories from the bible that I knew, but to me they were just stories from people long dead that had no relevance for my life. Reluctantly I agreed, mainly to not hurt his feelings, but I expected to get nothing out of it. He gave me the assigned verses for the first meeting and the location and told me he would see me then. I went home that night and promptly forgot about the entire conversation.
A few days later he sent me a text to remind me about it and said that he would pick me up in an hour. In a panic I searched franticly for the verses and page numbers and thought how am I going to read all of the assignment before he came to get me. So I pulled open my bible, flipped to the verse and started reading. Minutes later I had finished the entire piece that we were going to be going through. The first thing that crossed my mind was, “Wow was that it?” I double-checked the sheet and I had read it correctly. Then a sudden sinking feeling struck me as I wondered how we were going to talk about this short, 10 verse reading for a whole hour. These thoughts were still running through my head as my friend came and picked me up. When we left bible study an hour later I was amazed not only that we had gone an hour, but also that so much could be packed into such a small reading.
That was the key. I think the reason that I was so daunted by the task of reading the bible was because I was making it too broad. Reading scripture is best when you make it simple. As Matthew Kelly said, start with the gospels. Don’t try and read one all in one sitting, but give yourself a month or two to just read one Gospel. Make it part of your morning routine. I hold a weekly morning bible study for my teens here in Missoula and find that starting with the Word helps to have it permeate in all the rest of my activities for the day. Remember that God’s Word in scripture is living. More often than not the verse I read in the morning will come up again in a conversation with a friend who needed exactly what the Lord had said to me. I know you are skeptical, but try it and I promise you will see the fruits.
Lastly I just want stress on the fact that when you read the scriptures the Catholic Church’s teachings become clearer. Everything the church teaches comes directly from scripture. If you are wondering why the church is pro-life, or asks people to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or even the teaching of the Eucharist all you have to do is look at scripture. Everything is there. We as Catholics need to become better scholars of the Word and live our lives centered around it. My challenge this Lent is for you to choose just one book of the Bible and read it, just 10 verses a night. If you finish read it again. Let the Spirit speak to you. Meditate on it and not just what it was saying back then, but what it is saying to you, now, here in this moment. I promise you that you will grow closer to God and have a better understanding of him and yourself.
George Lund Youth Minister Christ the King Missoula email@example.com