Will you please read carefully this little article on “GOOD READING”.
First of all, it will show you how vitally important it is for every Catholic without distinction to read a good book for at least ten or fifteen minutes every day.
It is extraordinary how many Catholics are ignorant of this grave obligation.
A person who reads a good book daily is a thousand times more happy than those who do not.
Secondly, this article will show you what immense good every Catholic, man or woman, young or old, can do by propagating these books. They will save thousands of souls.
St. James the Apostle says that he who saves even one soul saves his own and covers a multitude of sins. What a reward! To save one soul gives God such pleasure that He will pardon all our sins and save our own soul.
The books we suggest are working wonders wherever they are known. It is very easy to show them to friends or send them by mail to any Catholic, asking them to read them and recommend them to others.
Communists and sectarians of all kinds are actively spreading about perfidious doctrines and doing unspeakable evil whereas Catholics do little, in fact some of them nothing at all.
We beg you in the Name of Jesus Christ to do your utmost to propagate good books.
An easy and most effective way of becoming both holy and happy is good Reading.
The reason for so little sanctity in many souls is not so much weakness or malice but ignorance. Good Reading dispels this ignorance and helps us to feel all the charm and consolation of God’s blessed love.
Every Catholic should without fail make spiritual reading daily for ten or fifteen minutes. The neglect of this duty is disastrous.
Thousands of souls are going to Hell every day simply because they do not read good books.
To derive benefit from our reading we must observe the following rules which will not only secure the best results but will make our reading attractive and a real pleasure.
Read Books That Appeal to You
It is of elementary prudence to choose the proper books, for not every good and excellent book suits all readers.
It must be our aim to find a book or books that make an appeal to us personally, that will grip our attention and act as a driving force, a stimulant to our energies.
Say A Little Prayer Before Reading
Next, it is well to say a short prayer, one Hail Mary, before commencing our reading, asking Our Blessed Lady to help us to understand what we are reading and put it into practice. St. Thomas of Aquinas told his fellow Dominican, Father Reginald, that he got his great treasures of knowledge more by prayer than by study.
Read Your Book Not Once But Many Times
It is a fatal mistake to read a book quickly or to read it only once. That produces very little good. We must not read a spiritual book as we read a novel. However well-written the book may be the truths it presents are so great that our poor weak minds only succeed in grasping them little by little.
It may treat of, for example, the love of God. Nothing seems easier to understand than that yet daily experience shows how very vaguely and insufficiently this wonderful doctrine is grasped and as a consequence how very little God is loved.
One book read slowly does us more good than a hundred books read hurriedly.
In fact, one conversation, one little story has often changed the whole tenor of a man’s life. The following incidents, related by a dear old priest, show that even what appears at first sight trivial may exercise a lasting impression on one's whole life.
“When a student in college”, he told me, “my Confessor kindly gave me some advice one day in recreation. It seemed simplicity itself, yet that advice has given me the most profound consolation all the long years of my life and has moreover enabled me to give similar consolation to the souls of many who have consulted me.
“A second incident”, he said, “was my hearing a short story about the Mass, after my ordination. This left a vivid and indelible impression on my mind. I have never celebrated the Holy Sacrifice since without thinking of it. As a result I enjoy deep devotion in saying every Mass.”
A third fact, which this good priest mentioned, is no less surprising.
A lady friend of mine once said to him: “‘'I confess that I feel no special sympathy for your young Curate. One thing, however, that he does impresses me very much. When he passes in front of the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament he genuflects so reverently and looks with such devotion at the Tabernacle that it would seem as if he saw God.’ This remark was made to me thirty years ago and never once since then have I passed in front of the Blessed Sacrament without imitating the example of my Curate. This has given me a very great increase of faith in the Real Presence.”
If then a short conversation, a little story, a few words of advice can make such a deep impression on one’s mind, a book is likely to make much more, for it may contain scores of such facts.
The Power of A Good Book
St. Augustine was one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived. Unfortunately, he was plunged for many years in error and vice. One of the chief means which made him a great saint was the reading of a good book viz. The Life of St. Antony of the Desert.
St. Ignatius was a rough soldier, trained in the camp and not given much to piety, yet by reading one book he became the saint that he is. He himself has written a book The Spiritual Exercises, which has converted and sanctified thousands of its readers.
St. John Columbini was a very lax and indifferent Christian. Dinner was delayed one day and he became very irritated. His wife offered him a book to amuse him until such time as dinner was served. Glancing at the title and seeing that it was a pious book he flung it on the floor in a fury. Regretting this insult to his wife he picked it up, sat down and began to read it.
So great was the impression it made on him that he changed his whole life and became a Saint.
La Harpe taught the most impious doctrines which he published in books very cleverly written, causing immense harm to his readers.
He was thrown into prison where the solitude proved almost intolerable. He found a pious book, which though far from his liking, he read for mere amusement.
Gradually he became engrossed in it and read chapter after chapter. He was completely converted.
On leaving the prison he dedicated the rest of his life to writing charming books, in a noble effort to undo all the terrible mischief he had formerly done.
One of the gravest problems that defied the ablest American statesmen for many years was the abolition of slavery. Government after government fell in their efforts to help the unfortunate slaves.
Finally a lady writer published a book, the story of a poor slave, which aroused the indignation of all who read it. This simple book enabled the government to abolish slavery forever in the United States and to set free the millions of slaves who were held in cruel bondage.
A good book that appeals to us is the best and most powerful of teachers. It enlightens us, it stimulates us, it consoles us.
We ourselves see every day the wonderful results obtained by the reading of even short, pithy pamphlets.
A celebrated London barrister, himself a convert, distributes small pamphlets, leaving them in trams, trains, or on benches in the parks or streets. By this means he has done considerable good.
We shall mention one case. Returning home after a busy day, he put one of these leaflets on a railing in front of a house. A Protestant policeman seeing it, took it, put it in his pocket and went home.
As a result of reading it, he and all his family became fervent Catholics.
Frank Estis, a young American officer wounded in the war, had to stay in hospital for many months. He found the long hours in bed so tiresome that he asked his friends to bring him something to read. They brought Catholic magazines which were eagerly read not only by Frank but by all the men in the hospital ward, who asked him to pass them on when he was done with them. At the end of eight months he was able to count many conversions of Protestants and lapsed Catholics!
On leaving the hospital he and some others began to visit the hospitals, prisons of the city and the houses of the poor, distributing Catholic booklets, papers and magazines. These booklets and papers converted more than 336 Protestants and 111 bad Catholics.
It is sheer madness for Catholics not to give ten or fifteen minutes every day to reading some good book.
No one should dare to dispense himself from this imperative duty. St. Dominic, great saint as he was, though constantly preaching, and spending whole nights in prayer, yet read assiduously the lives of the Saints.
St. Thomas Aquinas, a prodigy of learning and sanctity, did likewise and found his delight in such reading.
And so, too, did all the Saints.
Good reading is a pleasant and easy way of becoming holy.