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Spiritual Reading

You might think that priests normally do a lot of spiritual reading. I don’t know what normal is. I do some scripture study to prepare for homilies. Most other reading is for relaxation, some history, or some diversion. For the first time in a long time I picked up a book by Thomas Merton. The last time I read anything of his, probably thirty years ago, I was Episcopalian and felt defensive. He was a convert to Catholic Christianity, and I was a convert, too, and wasn’t ready to admit that I wasn’t just as Catholic as he was. What impressed me as I read The Sign of Jonas was how thoroughly modern he was. How is it possible that Merton, who was as old as my father, a very traditional pre-Vatican Trappist monk, could be so thoroughly steeped in traditional Catholicism including the Latin Mass, and be modern? He found the Holy Spirit and the experience of the presence of God in the Catholic Church but didn’t limit the work of the Spirit to the Church. He experienced God in nature, in people, in art and literature, manual labor, in the call to holiness, as well as in the rhythms and words of the monastic life of prayer. Perhaps I should go back and re-read Seven Story Mountain and see if it speaks to me now. Have you read it? Or anything else by Thomas Merton. Pope Francis spoke about him when he visited the U.S. about five years ago. Are you doing any more spiritual reading than you used to? Are you reading the Bible more?

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