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Introduction to the Devout Life
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CHAPTER XVII. How to Hear and Read God’s Word.

CULTIVATE a special devotion to God’s Word, whether studied privately or in public; always listen to it with attention and reverence, strive to profit by it, and do not let it fall to the ground, but receive it within your heart as a precious balm, thereby imitating the Blessed Virgin, who “kept all these sayings in her heart.” 4444     S. Luke ii. 51. Remember that our Lord receives our words of prayer according to the way in which we receive His words in teaching.

You should always have some good devout book at hand, such as the writings of S. Bonaventura, Gerson, Denis the Carthusian, Blosius, Grenada, Stella, Arias, Pinella, Da Ponte, Avila, the Spiritual Combat, the Confessions of S. Augustine, S. Jerome’s Epistles, or the like; and daily read some small portion attentively, as though you were reading letters sent by the Saints from Paradise to teach you the way thither, and encourage you to follow them. Read the Lives of the Saints too, which are as a mirror to you of Christian life, and try to imitate their actions according to your circumstances; for although many things which the Saints did may not be practicable for those who live in the world, they may be followed more or less. Thus, in our spiritual retreats we imitate the solitude of the first hermit, S. Paul; in the practice of poverty we imitate S. Francis, and so on. Of course some Lives throw much more light upon our daily course than others, such as the Life of Saint Theresa, which is most admirable, the first Jesuits, Saint Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, S. Louis, S. Bernard, S. Francis, and such like. Others are more the subjects of our admiring wonder than of imitation, such as S. Mary of Egypt, S. Simeon Stylites, S. Catherine of Genoa, and S. Catherine of Sienna, S. Angela, etc., although these should tend to kindle a great love of God in our hearts.


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