Ask any elementary teacher what their recommendation would be to any struggling student and 9 times out of 10, their answer will be “Read!” Whether it is through research, extra practice or even for fun, the unanimous advice will remain the same- we must fall in love with reading.
And why do we offer such great advice? Because we know it works. Even those teachers who don’t like reading very much (we know you’re out there) can agree that if a student is a good reader, they are normally more creative, more conceptual, and more likely to succeed in our classrooms.
In the same way reading affects academic performance, it has the possibility of illuminating our spiritual lives as well. We do this by reading Spiritual books that deal specifically with religion, doctrine, and faith. Through these books, we bring to light our intellectual gifts that God has given us through the books He guides us to read.
St. De La Salle understood the importance of this fruitful practice. In his “Collection of Various Short Treatises,” which is a Spiritual reading piece that should be on the top of every Christian teacher’s reading list. In it, he wrote:
Do not begin reading without placing yourself in the presence of God and asking him by a short prayer for the grace and the light to understand and to practice what you will read.
Never read through curiosity, and do not read hurriedly to get through a book quickly. Stop from time to time to relish your reading. Reflect on and examine yourself about what prevents you from practicing what you read. When it is something you could do, ask yourself why you do not do so. Read your spiritual book as if it were a letter sent by Jesus Christ to make his holy will known to you. Above all, read Holy Scripture with the most profound respect; reverence even the least syllable. Read it with a submissive spirit. Practice what you understand; adore what you do not understand. If you want to know the meaning, ask for an explanation of the passage from those who have the intelligence for it.
Frequently review interiorly and strive to engrave upon your heart what you have most relished in your reading.
At the end of the exercise, do not fail to thank God for the truths you have appreciated and remembered, and beg God to enable you to practice them.
The compete version of “Collection of Various Short Treatises” can be found on the link on the right hand side of this website along with the entire complete works of St. De La Salle.
Like La Salle, we should keep the sacred scriptures of the Bible as our primary source of spiritual truth. Guided by the magisterium, we unite ourselves with Jesus, the word incarnate, through the teachings of His Church.
Let’s make sure to make Spiritual reading, especially of the Holy Bible, a daily practice to help strengthen our faith. Whether it is during the beginning, middle, or end of our day, may we strive to read the letters that God has left us through His most inspired authors of the past.
To steal a quote from Father Larry Richards, “No Bible, no breakfast. No Bible, no bed.”
Live Jesus in our hearts forever!