Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Only Devotional You Really Need

There's a big stack of review copies of recently published Catholic books here in the house. Close to a third of these are devotionals. Some are for a season, such as Lent or Advent. Others are for any time of the year. I'm sure you've seen them.

Typically, you get a page or two for each  that includes a reading, some commentary and reflection questions on the reading (lectio divina is quite the trend these days),  and a prayer. The readings can be from the Church Fathers, from one particular saint (there are  scores  of these), from one spiritual classic (broken down into easy to digest paragraphs and perhaps updated to modern English), from the writings of the  Pope, from a famous non-canonized author,  or from the Bible.

There are lots of devotionals directed at Catholic women or specifically, Catholic mothers. There are lots that are gender neutral.. I've yet to see any for Catholic men or fathers. Realities of the market, I guess.

I always find these to be very attractive little books.  I happily review them. I leave the very best ones on my nightstand, or at my desk, with the intention of using them daily.

But I never do. At least, not after the first week or so. Viewed with optimism, I should see such books as a real bargain: A Year With Padre Pio will last me for three, at least. But usually pessimism prevails. Seeing that book gathering dust-- the bookmark on a date from six weeks back-- I'm thinking, Lazy twit. You can't even read one paragraph a day from this good spiritual book.  
So today, I packed up some of these wonderful, unused devotionals into a box, to be given to a book-loving, homeschooling mother of 8 who lives down the road. Sure, she will have time to read them!
Maybe I'm just spreading the contagion of inadequacy around.

Box packed and shut, I sat down to do the Office of Readings. Great reading from St. Francis de Sales about how one's personal devotion has to fit with one's state in life. Then it dawned on me.

 I was reading from the writings of a saint! And had just read a psalm and a page of Deuteronomy.
And went back over psalm 68 to find the verse that says make a highway for him who rides on the clouds, and thought  for a few  seconds  about Our Lord's ascension into heaven.
A shorter version of this  process is repeated several more  times per day around here.

Maybe I wasn't drawn to all those nice devotional books, not because of laziness, but because I'm already satiated after a day of drinking fully from the best devotional fountain  there is.  A devotional that comes to us straight from the mouth of God, and handed to us by Christ, Who then invites us to pray it with Him.

Compared to that, Daily Holiness Hints for Catholic Gals or a year with St. Anybody just pales.