A very healthy habit is that of "spiritual" reading, that is, of books that speak (correctly) of God and of our relationship with him. by Antonio Maria Sicari published by Jaca Book). At 18 I was struck by "The Confessions" of St. Augustine. Providence had prepared me slowly. When I was 16 I heard the Italian teacher, always sparing with adjectives, who went to the essential by eliminating all literary trappings, who said: "Augustine, one of those geniuses that humanity produces every three or four centuries". I was struck by that phrase also because the professor had never shown religious feelings. After some time I met an Alpine, Guido Cavalleri, passing through Naples, who quoted long sentences of Sant'Agostino in Latin: he was of overwhelming sympathy and his passion for Agostino intrigued me. Moral: when I finished the high school exams I went to the sea in Calabria and, sitting on the suitcase in a crowded train of those times, I began to read "the Confessions".
Spiritual reading: The Confessions of Saint Augustine
Great was the impact with the eighth chapter in which Augustine recounts the travail of his conversion. For me it was the most engaging text of everything I read. A masterpiece of world literature. Everyone should read it and reread it. A synthesis of psychology, theology, humanity ...
Augustine's sincerity struck me. By now he was convinced that the Christian faith was credible and true. He openly admitted that it was the passions that held him back and nothing else. They were the ones who said regretfully: "Now you won't be able to do this and this ... and what were this and this other!". Agostino spoke to me about himself: he was passionate about the truth and at the same time he liked everything that life offers and that seems to be an alternative to the Christian call. The resistance of the passions can be overcome. The truth is worth ... and it is true that the followers of Jesus find one hundred for one. A deal.
And then there was that turning directly to God with confident sincerity and sincere trust. It made me realize that the creature is fine when it is in tune with God. "Our heart is restless until it rests in you"(Confessions I). I felt he was right.
Other than stories! Other than mocking the lives of the saints! The saints are the ones who really speak to us. The enthusiasm caused by their beautiful lives is founded.
Spiritual Readings: Joseph Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity.
Another book that I was passionate about was "Introduction to Christianity”By Joseph Ratzinger. In the 70s a friend had told me about it but I jokingly replied that I didn't have the time to devote myself to a theological brick while I was busy. I jokingly told him that I was already following the "smazzinger" treaty ... In the 80s I took that book in my hand and was enchanted. I could not read it for long because it was full of meaning even if the text was clear. I read a quarter of an hour a day (as recommended for those with a busy life) and I felt the need to reread it to mark the essential points. It was a time when I had been dealing with documentaries and I had the desire to make a video that served as a stimulus to read the book: a kind of lyophilisate of the message that was contained therein. I managed to find a lender and contacted an editor-director who made the product using the machines kindly granted by Lux-Vide. The result was an intense video that I still use to see it with friends and then comment on it.
I also spoke to the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger taking advantage of the end of a ceremony. He was very kind but he didn't ask me to see the video and it didn't surprise me. He traveled on the level of theological research: disclosure was not his business, however necessary.
The book is precious because it comments on the Creed keeping in mind the needs of those imbued with Western culture, overcomes its prejudices and illustrates well the nature of God who is love. In summary, a solid reading that clearly clarifies the contents of the faith.
Among Ratzinger's publications are the three books on Jesus he wrote during his pontificate. The third concerning the childhood of Jesus is particularly suitable for the Christmas period. Among his encyclicals, the first two particularly impressed me: Deus Caritas est and Spe Salvi. In particular, the latter contains a statement that surprised and cheered me: "When one experiences a great love in one's life, that is a moment of redemption that gives a new meaning to one's life"(N. 26)
Another book of the heart is the life of Saint Catherine of Siena written by his last confessor, fra 'Raimondo da Capua. Mystics are the right channel to better understand what God wants from us and what he wants to tell us. The same can be said of theautobiography of Santa Teresina del Bambin Gesù entitled "Story of a soul"And the other autobiographies of the saints ...
For those who need to clarify their ideas on commonplaces (Giordano Bruno, the Inquisition, the Galilei case, ...) critical of the Church, the books of Vittorio Messori they are precious. As well as the books of André Frossard (the converted communist) help to get rid of the doubts of atheism.
GK Chesterton it puts at the service of Catholic orthodoxy and apologetics English humor combined with a profound synthesis of Christian thought.
Little by little we start to consider the classics of world literature as an excellent enrichment not only intellectual but also spiritual. Just think of two other Brits like CS Lewis e J.R.R. Tolkien which are already classic despite being almost contemporary. Dante, Manzoni, the great Russian writers, French Catholic intellectuals (from Maritain to Gilson) and so on ... all the classics have the ability to put man in front of the fundamental questions of life with the right answers in an artistic key. It is not really about spiritual reading but about a good nourishment of the soul.
In summary: spiritual reading is not an obligation, it is a pleasure, an enrichment. It takes a certain effort to insert those 15 'in the course of the day but it is a commitment that becomes light if the book "works". Today dietary supplements are in fashion, so spiritual reading is a supplement of our brain and heart.