Speaking Out: Spiritual reading for busy students

By  Mirjana Villenueve, Youth Speak News
  • September 22, 2017

I struggle to keep up with the fast pace and heavy reading load that comes with studying English and as each year progresses, I am tempted to let my spiritual to-read list stack up in the corner until school calms down.

But truthfully, if I don’t keep up with spiritual reading amid all the chaos, I won’t keep up with it on lazy summer days, either.

Everything changed last year when I altered the way I approach spiritual reading. I heard a quote somewhere that goes, “Instead of saying ‘I don’t have time,’ try saying, ‘it’s not a priority,’ and see how that feels.”

I found this quote extremely unfair when I first read it because I felt I really didn’t have time. Once classes started, I went from no mandatory reading to finishing a novel every week and a half. Spiritual reading hit the back burner and I felt sound in my justifications.

Yet this quote remained in the back of my mind and wouldn’t leave me alone. I was right to make school one of my biggest priorities and I was still praying daily so that was enough, right?

As silly as it sounds, I was afraid of trying spiritual reading during the busiest time of the year and failing. I had an army of excuses that backed me up on this, the main one being I wouldn’t be able to handle another thing on my to-do list and wouldn’t know where to start anyway.

But my spiritual director pointed out that if I started reading a book and found it hard to continue, maybe it isn’t the right time to read that particular book. With this sound advice, I realized that spiritual reading isn’t in the same category as school work. I’m not being graded. I can turn to a different book at any time and pray for God to show me what He wants me to read.

Praying for a book to read hasn’t failed me since I started. God reliably picks books for me that contain exactly what I need to hear.

He hooked me up with St. Thérèse’s Story of a Soul as I scoured a used bookstore, He left St. Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle in a box of books on the university chapel floor and He had a friend spontaneously send me a copy of Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe.

Now, I hardly ever go to prayer without a spiritual book, my journal and a highlighter. I don’t set out to read a spiritual book by a specific deadline, but I read a little each day and meditate on it as part of my daily prayer routine.

Spiritual reading has become a huge priority in my life, but since I am highly imperfect at time management and commitment, I surrender all spiritual reading to God.

If you are looking for ways to incorporate spiritual reading into your life, pray for the ability to do so and keep trying. Remember, this is a relationship, not homework. Reading The Catholic Register is definitely a good start!

(Villenueve, 20, is a third-year Concurrent Education student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.)

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