Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Conversion and Spiritual Reading

Lent is a time of conversion. Don Marco has some beautiful reflections on conversion and lectio divina. In Lents of the past, I have often read Preparation for Death by Saint Alphonsus Liguori. It is a life-changing book which can be pondered many times with new riches revealed in each reading. Saint Alphonsus is great at putting everything into perspective. His work on The Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ is excellent Lenten material, too.

Another book that can be read repeatedly, offering fresh insights, is one I saw recommended on Elena's site. It is The Hidden Power of Kindness by Father Lovasik. I have sometimes used it in adult etiquette classes, because it explores kindness as the essence of our interactions with others; good manners are empty without charity of heart. It is a book which helps with outward behavior as well as giving spiritual advice. Father Lovasik speaks of the dangers of discouragement to the spiritual life:

There are few things which resist grace so much as discouragement. Many plans for God's glory have failed because there was no bright look or or kind eye or kind word to support them. You may not have come forward with the help your brother needs, because you were busy with your own work and never looked at his, or because you were jealous and looked coldly and spoke critically.

A kind deed, a kind word, or the mere tone of voice is enough to convey sympathy to the poor suffering heart, and in one instant all is right again. The downcast soul is encouraged to do bravely the very thing which, in a mood of discouragement, it had almost resolved to leave undone. That encouragement may be the first link of a new chain, which, when finished, will result in final perseverance. (Lovasik, Lawrence. The Hidden Power of Kindness. p.10)

How vital it is especially in families to help each other fend off discouragement, especially when the times are full of foreboding. Lent is a wonderful season to start building new, positive patterns of behavior.

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