Whenever I fast from something I replace it with something good. This January I replaced Instagram with books. Fasting from Instagram is always a powerful experience for me. This is my second fast in less than a year and both have been fruitful. I often fall into intellectual sloth on Instagram, so I decided to replace the time I would spend scrolling with reading books.
I chose three books, looked at the number of pages in each, and divided it by thirty-one to make sure I completed them by February! I’m happy to say that I reached my goal and even finished reading them days before the close of January. It felt so good to discipline myself and accomplish a goal to completion. Even more, it was incredible to fill my mind, heart, and soul with such beauty, truth, and goodness!
Mike got me the Word On Fire edition this Christmas and, like everything Word On Fire creates, it’s beauty really drew me in! I’ve been a big fan of his show and would often look up his quotes, but this is the first book by Fulton Sheen that I’ve read. Life Of Christ revealed the meaning of the Cross and suffering to me. I’ve always questioned the need of suffering, especially Jesus’, and the way Sheen explained the necessity, beauty, and profundity of the Cross and Passion really transformed my heart.
Every sentence of this book is quote-worthy and every few paragraphs I was tempted to (and often did!) exclaim to Mike, “You NEED to hear this!” This book brought me closer to Christ and opened Scripture in a beautiful way. Sheen truly is a genius and I’m so glad he was my teacher this past month through this book.
Life of Christ taught me the beauty of suffering, how to suffer, and how important the Cross and Resurrection are. Knowledge of a person leads to love and learning more about Him, the Person of Christ, through this book, made me fall deeper in love with Him.
This book would be a beautiful one to read during Lent this month. It is one I know I will be re-reading soon. The moment I read the last page I wanted to start again from the beginning! You can get it HERE or the Word On Fire edition HERE.
Saint Thomas Aquinas always intimidated me. I love the Saints and am drawn to them, but Saint Thomas seemed unapproachable. Yet the beauty of the Saints is that they draw us towards them! They want to be our friends! They want us to participate in the fullness of grace that they experience! And this past year Saint Thomas Aquinas kept showing up in my life, inviting me into a spiritual friendship.
After listening to this podcast, I decided to order one of the books referenced in it, Summa of the Summa by Peter Kreeft. It was sitting on my bedside shelf until this past month when I decided to finally face my fears and open it! I’m so glad I did!
This book aligned with my fast perfectly – there were moments I wanted to shut it in frustration and stop reading it, just like there were times this month I wanted to end my fast. I persevered! I struggled through some pages! Some pages flowed beautifully and I couldn’t get enough! And just like the sheer joy of completing my fast, I experienced that same joy in completing this book!
The greatest lesson of this book for me was the simplest, yet most profound (like so many things in our faith): there is a God! And that changes EVERYTHING! Everything! The way we live, what we do, how we think, our goals, dreams, desires! And not only can it be proved that there is a God, but He is good! This basic, fundamental truth and seeing how flawlessly it could be proved by this great Saint led me to a deeper thirst to learn more about Him, which I happily did in Sheen’s Life of Christ!
If, like me, you’re intimidated by Saint Thomas Aquinas, start with this book. Peter Kreeft opens up the world and words of Aquinas as he guides the reader through with his insightful footnotes and explanations. This book left me with a full soul and mind, and wanting to read more of both Aquinas and Kreeft. You can order the edition that I read HERE!
My favorite college course was an ethics class taught by Dr. Maria Seifert Wolter that I took when I studied at Franciscan University’s Kartause. Sadly, it was one of the first times I’d taken a philosophy course in my entire life! Those weeks of studying ethics remind me of reading the Summa this past month – I was thinking in ways I never had before, or never had been pushed to think before! It was challenging, exciting, new, and filled my soul in a unique way that no other class had.
During the last few weeks of the course she taught us about one of her favorite philosophers, Dietrich von Hildebrand. I left the semester with a desire to learn more about him. During that Christmas break I read his biography The Soul of a Lion along with his writings too, like, The Heart and Marriage:The Mystery of Faithful Love.
He came to mind again a few months ago and I ordered his memoirs, My Battle Against Hitler. There is something so special about this man, something to be reverenced. Not just his intellect, but his virtue. Named Hitler’s enemy number one, Dietrich Von Hildebrand stood for and proclaimed truth in season and out of season. The fact that a philosopher was labeled the primary enemy of National Socialism shows the power of philosophy, the power of the love of wisdom.
This book reads like a thrilling movie and I hope it is made into one soon, mostly because I want people to know more about this great man, this incredible life. He’s the inspiration and author for the books I plan to read this month: Beauty in the Light of the Redemption, The Heart, and Transformation in Christ. I look forward to growing closer to Christ through his writings!
What are you reading? Let me know in the comments below!
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