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I had ordered two new prayer books, which arrived today.

One is Father Lasance’s ‘Our Lady Book’, while the other is Cardinal Newman’s ‘Meditations And Devotions’. The titles give clues as to the contents of each book. And given the particular authors, the age of the books can also be guessed.

Neither book is intended to be devoured in one reading – and that suits me perfectly, as I certainly prefer to ‘dip into’ books of this sort at various moments, and there can be long gaps between such moments. That, too, suits me prefectly.

The joy of spiritual reading is not just that it lifts the soul and the heart to things other than the world, but that we can take just a little and really make something of it. For books, we can read a page or two at a time that suits us, then really consider what we have read. Or it may be that rather than an entire page or two, we perhaps focus on just a paragraph or even a few sentences. I think we generally find a way that works well for us, if we are prepared to look for one.

The purpose of spiritual reading is, as I mentioned above, to lift our hearts and souls – and our minds and wills – to God, and out of the world; to leave the physical for a moment or two and to step into the spiritual realm. I find that particularly in these times, the world is screaming for our attention and offering all sorts of delights which are enticing to us – but which are, ultimately, empty. But at the same time, they can captivate us – and being captive is usually not such a good thing.

Spiritual reading, then, offers something of an antidote to this captivity.

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