As summer progresses, we have hopefully found rest and leisure to be plentiful. Vacation, family get-togethers, cookouts, wineries, outdoor music, conferences, and time in nature are gifts that swell our souls with life. Yet often our time to rest can be a time of spiritual regression. We have the terrible tendency when life is good to forget to spend time with our loving God and praise Him for the good times that we are experiencing. If this is the case the beautiful things of summer, instead of being fruitful, can leave us with only momentary happiness, which fades like the summer warmth.
God wants for you and me so much more. He wants us to enjoy the bountiful and beautiful gifts of summer but in Him so that they will last. He desires that the joys remain in our hearts and warm them when winter comes in the world and especially in our lives.
We can do this by practicing three simple daily habits. The habit of personal prayer, public prayer, and spiritual reading.
Let's look at each of the three briefly. In later blogs, we can look at them more deeply and hear from saints and, God willing, future saints on the benefits of each.
Public Prayer:What this means is the prayer of the universal church. The Liturgy of the hours (Pick up aBreviaryor get theiBreviary app) and the Mass are the two most common. It is here that we humbly follow the teaching of our Lord and the Spirit under the aegis of the Church. Through the Church, God guides His people home and He does so primarily through the Sacraments and the Liturgy. Daily contact with the universal church and Her prayer and worship is a rich spiritual meal that orients us and lifts us to heaven to be with all the Angels and Saints in their life and worship of God. It is a great calming gift given to us by our Lord to strengthen us on our daily journey home through this often stormy world.
Personal Prayer: Simply spend 15 minutes each day with our loving Father, his Son, His Spirit, and all the Angels and Saints. Set aside time in the morning, afternoon, or evening to be with the Lord. Call out to him trustingly as a child seeks their father’s presence so that they might play with him. Remain in that inner room with Him and pour out your heart, listen to His words, even the loving chastisement if need be, and delight in His presence as He delights in you. Use things like the Jesus prayer(Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.), the rosary, thedaily readings, public prayer, and the fruit of spiritual reading as fuel and aids for this time of prayer. Personal prayer is a great gift that God has given to all of his Children and so even if spent in total aridity, remember, He makes fruitful even in the desert.
Spiritual Reading:This is the simple habit of reading a good spiritual book each day. Our in-between times, and free time, can often become filled with useless distractions. Spiritual reading is a beautiful remedy for distractions. By taking just 15 minutes to read a good spiritual book, we orient our heart towards the good and towards God. Our reading can help to anchor our day and we become like the man who in thefirst psalm is planted by the running water, ready to yield its fruit when the season comes. "'In my spiritual reading, I build up a store of fuel. — It looks like a lifeless heap, but I often find that my memory, of its own accord, will draw from it material which fills my prayer with life and inflames my thanksgiving after Communion." ~ St. Josemaria Escriva (The Way #117)
So now without further ado, here are my seven picks for summer spiritual reading.