Books Feed Our Souls

by Catherine Doherty

Especially in hard times, our souls need to be fed, and not just with specifically religious food.

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I believe that nothing is alien to Jesus Christ, nor to the Father. And the Holy Spirit waits for us to pick up a book, so he can open the very kernel of it like a nutcracker.

If we understand that into our hands God has handed his word, that written word can speak the truth of every subject pertaining to mankind.

What is my relation to God? That is one type of book. You can call it spiritual, philosophical, theological—any book dealing with God directly.

Who is Christ in the world of today? He is the Lord of history. The tragedy of the modern generation is that they want to abolish history. But everyone is the product of the past. Everyone is making history in the present, and thus preparing the history of the future. Unless we know history, we cannot understand this.

If you read just a little ordinary book of general world history, horizons would open before your eyes. Many empty places in the puzzle of your life might be filled.

Or read Church history. For example, what does it mean that the era of Constantine ended and a new era began? Who was Constantine? And why was his era so important? Did it change Christianity—and for the better or for the worse?

Think of geography—how can you or I understand what we read in the daily papers if we do not know geography?

Sociology and anthropology, which deal with the ways people live, think, and have problems today and yesterday, can even give a glimpse into tomorrow.

What about science, technology, and the relation of the Gospel to same?

Is God’s word absent from biographies? How can it be? Not only biographies of saints but of other great people—what are they but the reflection of the all-loving Father, who through his Word and the Holy Spirit, has given certain persons gifts to be used for the good of humanity.

And fiction. Fiction reflects life as it is lived. There are immortal authors who have written of life so that generation after generation read them and feel that they understand.

In modern fiction, you may see yourself with all of your problems. You might find some answers, or at least have some new questions. And then your own mind would begin to work. As well, you would have a better knowledge of what your fellow human beings feel and think.

Take poetry. Poetry is really a prayer. In symbolic language it says what you cannot express in ordinary words.

Poetry can lift you up to the top of a mountain, or throw you down into the abyss of despair. Choose the poetry that brings you to the mountain.

Books can answer the deepest questions of our hearts, questions we sometimes do not even know we have.

Through a good book God says, “I want to pilgrim through your heart. I want to enter your mind.”

Hunger for knowledge is hunger for God. When you say “knowledge” you are talking about God, because God is perfect knowledge. Any knowledge that is positive, that opens new horizons, that leads you to another mountain from which you see even wider horizons—that knowledge feeds the mind.

Climb that mountain, see that vision. Understand yourself by using books, and let your understanding grow.

The tip of the wing of the Holy Spirit will touch your mind as you read, and will give you the vision to offer the Word to the rest of humanity.

Excerpted from The People of the Towel and the Water, (2010), pp. 121-124, available from MH Publications