Can we dare not to read?

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.
Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

Why read? English author Aldous Huxley gives some great reasons: “Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, signifi- cant and interesting.”

Since February is Catholic Press Month, let’s start with a little experiment. Put this paper down for a moment and look around you. Other than The Leaven and your parish bulletin, what Catholic reading material do you have in your home? (I asked this question last week, but I’ll bet that things haven’t changed since then, right?)

As I look around, here’s what I see: several unwieldy stacks of Catholic books — on prayer, art and how-tos (improve my preaching and the parish); copies of America, U.S. Catholic, Liguorian and St. Anthony Messen-ger magazines; and prayer resources like Living Faith and Give Us This Day. And that’s just the collection in my living room!

So, what’s your faith life like right now? If it’s not “full, significant and interesting,” there’s an easy fix: Read the Catholic press. When I say “press,” I mean the written word in its old-fashioned form: printed on paper.

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of doing spiritual reading online. Although electronic reading gives a reader the ability to highlight passages, I find it’s much harder to do it on a screen than having the physical item right in front of me. I like to scribble notes in the margins, too. Also, I find that I can skim through articles or flip to ones that particularly interest me a lot quicker with a hard copy. And, since I already spend way too much time in front of a computer, it’s nice to give my eyes a break from the bright letters on a screen.

OK, now that I got that out of my system, here’s a quick, three-step system for introducing Catholic reading into your life.

  1. Subscribe to a Catholic magazine and discover some wonderful articles. For example, recent issues of St. Anthony Messenger ran articles on why Pope Francis’ name fits and tips for raising kids with faith; U.S. Catholic, meanwhile, had articles on Catholic colleges and the student loan crisis, and what Catholics with developmental disabilities bring to the table. Subscription prices vary, but most are in the range of $20 to $56 per year, depending on the frequency of publication. Just Google the magazine’s name — in addition to the two already mentioned here, Liguorian and America are good places to start — for further information.
  2. Buy at least a couple of Catholic books each year. You can finish one during Lent and one during the summer. Catholic magazines will always have suggestions on what’s out there — via ads and book reviews — but you can also get ideas online by visiting some of the more popular publishers’ web- sites: www.avemariapress.com, www.paulistpress.com, www.orbisbooks.com, Catalog.FranciscanMedia.org, and www.liguori.org. Remember that you are no in school anymore, so you actually get to pick what you’d like to read . . . and no tests on the material! When you see something that you might like, head to your local Catholic bookstore (if you’re lucky to have one nearby) or to Amazon (if you don’t). Why? Because it’s good to peek inside a book to get a feel for it before actually buying. Amazon often has the “look inside” feature to let you do this.
  3. Sit down, read and enjoy. You really do have time to read every day. As a reminder, put your magazine or book on top of the computer keyboard, the kitchen table, your pillow or the TV remote. Hey, if you’ve got to pick it up to move it, you might as well open it up and read for a bit.

If you’re still not convinced, ponder this haunting quote from Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, who said, “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”

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