The Books That Really Make Us Catholic Are Being Neglected

Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay

There are so many Catholic authors out there in the Churches 2020 year old history we couldn’t possibly name them all. In the last 20 years, and more recently with social media, Catholic book sales have surged enormously. In this post I will discuss what it is we are reading, the problems it can lead to, and what is essentially “the better part”(Luke:10:42).

Let us begin by asking what are Catholics reading? And are our reading habits increasing Catholic knowledge of the faith while at the same time eating away at what really makes us Catholic? I have noticed this varies from country to country. For example America, which is a highly intellectual country focuses on apologetics, whereas Europeans will be found reading the diary of St.Faustina.

There’s a desire in Europeans to hunt for an experience reading books about miracles. In Americans they’re persuaded that learning the Bible brings them closer to God. In Europe they’re assured that reading mystical tales of visits from purgatory will bring them closer to God. Of course one can read both, but in this post I merely lament an unhealthy emphasis by various western cultures.

Both reading habits can lead to problems. These are not bad books to read at all, but they’re what I consider the ribbon on the bigger prize. I look at all learning of this kind as knowledge for the head, that’s useful in a intellectual fist fight with a protestant, but not much else. It’s especially worse if it’s not paired with Love or repentance the Greek for which is “Metanoia”. Metanoia can be translated as turning around. To turn around ones life so drastically that it’s completely opposite to the secular culture now and the life one used to lead.

Catholics are very drawn to every book imaginable except ones that help us change who we are as a person. A Catholic may live his entire life working in a parish, but with all the spiritual bad habits that show us he hasn’t changed who he is one little bit. He will be the head of the parish council, will run theological programs, and even have a degree in theology. But go up and insult him, watch him lose his cool, curse like a trooper, and you will see how much good all that knowledge and parish experience has done him.

The books on our shelves currently gathering dust are spiritual combat, imitations of Christ, Philokalia, St.John of the cross and Therese of Avila’s writings to name but a few. These books/authors deal with growing closer to God and changing one’s entire life around. St.Paul tells us in Corinthians what is the point in having all the spiritual gifts and knowledge if we don’t have Love? Love is a state of being, not a feeling. Love, – true love not of this world – can only be achieved through a metanoia which is something we strive for but in the end is itself a Grace of God.

But we don’t want to read that. Facing the dirt within our souls is too much for us. Instead, we run headlong in the opposite direction. Indulging in tales about souls coming to speak to people from purgatory or learning how to read the Bible in Greek or Hebrew. What the Lord wants is our love, but there is this habit of falling into the trap where we assume we are loving God simply by gaining knowledge of him. The Lord wants us to change.

He wants our love and trust for him which is above our devotional prayers and sacrifices. Of what use is it to learn a prayer while you’re soul and behaviour is not a prayer? The Lord wants us to become a prayer, so that our daily lives conform to His Will. To pray a prayer while our soul is anything but a prayer, means we are merely offering lip service. Blessing God with our lips and insulting him with the way we live our lives.

Reading books that guide us to this end has become a neglected practice. They’ve deteriorated so much on our shelves, that the dust is all that holds them together. But these are the texts that will give us that step by step guide into the Heart of God right now. No, these books aren’t necessary for salvation, but they’re certainly helpful towards that end. Stop making excuses not to read them. Do not become the parish idiot with a head full of knowledge and a heart black as the cat on my doorstep.

Be like Mary in the Gospel. There she sat at the feet of Jesus, while Martha was busy engaged in things that really weren’t of any concern or help to her. It’s not that they weren’t important household tasks, but the Lord told her that Mary chose the better part. She sat at the feet of the Lord hanging on his every word.

It’s not that Bible knowledge and apologetics isn’t important. It’s not that the stories given to us by people who see the Holy souls aren’t entertaining and useful. It’s only that it’s not the better part. It wont DO anything for us. Am I making sense? I hope so, I rarely ever do. How dare I even presume to teach at all, but if I don’t say something, anything at all….who will?

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