"The wood of the desk is the wood of the Cross."
An older Dominican friar told me this as I discerned a possible Dominican vocation. It spoke to me. Oftentimes, we look to study, reading, writing as an escape, a form of leisure. Real study, study that pursues Truth, however, is, as in all things that lead us to Truth, a challenge.
Many students know this struggle, but how often do we unite this struggle to acquire a greater understanding of the world to our call as disciples to understand Jesus, His Church, and His ways? A good Lenten penance can be to read a good book, a book that expands our understanding of God and deepens our relationship with Him.
To develop a spirituality of study is to admit to both God and myself, "I am not enough." When we take up study for its sacred purpose, we recognize there are simply things I cannot know and the more I know, the less I realize I actually know. Study is concurrently a growth in understanding and humility. In other words, the study we pursue, even scholarly, is neither bombastic, proud, or arrogant. It is the simple recognition that God has something more to offer me and I long to share it with Him.
During Lent, we are called to strip away the vestiges of our life. Why not replace social media and blogs with holy reading? Instead of reading the latest pablum about entertainment "news" spend some time plumbing the depths of God. You'll like what you find.
In order to stir the fires, here are some recommendations from my book shelves, in no particular order:
Time for God, by Jacques Philippe
Treatise on Prayer and Meditation, by St. Peter Alcantara
The Contemplative Life, by Thomas Philippe
Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales
Abandonment to Divine Providence, by Jean-Pierre de Caussade
The Soul of the Apostolate, by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard
Christ, The Life of the Soul, by Blessed Columba Marmion
True Devotion to the Holy Spirit, by Luis Martinez
Interior Castle, by St. Teresa of Avila
Story of a Soul, by St. Therese of Lisieux
Jesus of Nazareth (Three Volumes), by Pope Benedict XVI
God and His Image: An Outline of Biblical Theology, by Jean-Dominique Barthelemy
The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life, by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange
The Confessions, St. Augustine