Rediscovering the Catholic classics

St Catherine of Siena

The canon of Catholic classics, with writing by such sainted luminaries as Augustine, á Kempis, Ignatius, Catherine of Siena, and Thérèse of Lisieux, offers an opportunity to grow in wisdom, writes National Catholic Register.

St Jerome said that when we pray, we speak to God, but when we read good spiritual books, God speaks to us.

For centuries, Christians have been discerning God’s 'voice' through the printed word in titles such as The Confessions by St. Augustine, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis and The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena . These and many other Catholic classics are still in print today.

For example, Confessions contains Augustine’s famous line: 'Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.' And The Imitation of Christ reminds us well: 'Jesus Christ must be loved alone with a special love, for he alone, of all friends, is good and faithful. For him and in him, you must love friends and foes alike, and pray to him that all may know and love him.' The Lord does the reminding in Dialogue of St. Catherine: 'There cannot be love of me without love of neighbor, nor love of neighbor without love of me.'

Despite some classics being geared toward specific types of people, there is nonetheless a universal character to their contents.

The Story of a Soul , for example — which is St Thérèse’s autobiography — is particularly valuable for young women, but there is no shortage of men and women of all ages who derive great benefit from it. The faithful can find meaning in the young nun-saint’s thoughts on love — 'It is love alone that counts' — or picture how she describes the soul’s journey: 'I pictured my soul as a tiny barque, with a graceful white sail … and I resolved never to let it withdraw from the sight of Jesus, so that it might sail peacefully and quickly towards the heavenly shore.'

General appeal is characteristic of the classics revisited here.

An Introduction to the Devout Life , written by St. Francis de Sales in the early 1600s, has lost none of its value over the years, according to former Major League Soccer All-Star Eddie Gaven.
 
Father Joseph Lee, academic dean at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, has gained a great deal from The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola.

Sister Mary Annunciata, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, finds great comfort in the pages of Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence. This classic is a collection of letters written by Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade to Visitation nuns in the 1700s.

- By Trent Beattie
 
Read full article: Catholic Classics for Everyone (National Catholic Register)

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