by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

Spiritual Reading is a Must on your Resolutions list!

     Sometimes people say to me: "Sister, it is so hard for me to pray. Iíve had a busy day; I have so many distractions; itís so difficult for me to concentrate; I get discouraged about praying because I donít seem to to succeed very well in it."

      Everyone has trouble praying at times. And for some people - a lot of the times. That is, they donít FEEL like they are doing a very good job of praying because they are beset with distractions and donít seem to reap consolation in their prayer which usually brings the desire to pray more.

      We should first of all remember that the most frequently used tool of the devil is discouragement. If he can create an attitude of discouragement, he can open the door to other great temptations.

      First of all, we should remember that if we DESIRE to pray, we are already pleasing to God. Actually, it is God Himself Who has placed the desire to pray on our hearts.

      Also, the above mentioned complaints make me think of something St. Teresa of Avila once wrote. She said that when we find it hard to pray, we should READ. She meant SPIRITUAL reading, of course. She was a very wise saint. Her advice is excellent.

      To pick up and read, perhaps from an autobiography of a saint, or Our Lordís purported words to a mystic, or the Scriptures themselves can be a great door-opener to lifting up our minds and hearts to God which is what prayer is.

      One does not have to read a lot either. Sometimes, a sentence or two, or a paragraph can be used by God to inspire us in such a way that we can speak to God words of gratitude or praise, contrition or petition.

      One should STICK to a sentence or so that leads to prayer until all that the soul wishes to say to God or HEAR from God is completed. God DOES speak to us every day in many ways. He speaks to us through nature, through Scripture, through interpersonal relationships and through good spiritual reading.

      In everything that is good, God wishes to say to us that He loves us. Good spiritual reading helps us HEAR God say that. We all need to be reminded that we are loved, especially by God. When our souls comes in tune with a truth that touches our hearts, the natural response on our part is to say back to God: "I love you, Lord! Bring me closer to you!" Voila!!! We are praying!

      If you go to Church to make a holy hour, donít hesitate to bring a good spiritual reading book with you. You may be surprised at the powerful holy hour you may have when trying to pray with the help of good spiritual reading material.

      And let us not forget. God loves prayer that comes simply from our hearts. Sincere prayer that is unpretentious and honest like that of a child.

      Happy praying with good spiritual reading! God bless you!

January 1998