How is your Lenten journey so far? I'm still getting into the rhythm of it. I am currently reading "This Tremendous Lover" by Dom Eugene Boylan, a Trappist Monk from Ireland and prolific spiritual writer. I actually started reading it last summer, and it's so packed with spiritual wisdom that I have to digest it slowly. Last week I read the chapter on "Seeking Christ by Reading". There is a particular paragraph I wanted to share with any of you who are committed to some form of spiritual reading this Lent. The following advice is given in the context of how best to digest these books.
"Books that bear on conduct should be digested by examining one's own conduct in the light of their teaching. However, there is one mistake that must be avoided. If one finds difficulty in deciding whether some particular remark applies to one's own case, or in fact, if one hesitates to believe that it has personal reference, it is a mistake to let that uncertainty or hesitation disturb one's peace. It is always permissible to keep an open mind until one has ready more, or until some advice can be obtained on the point. Peace of mind and liberty of spirit are essential for the growth of the spiritual life; and unless there is a clear reprimand from one's conscience, it is always wise to put aside anything in reading which upsets our peace or liberty - even if there be a doubt which appears to have some foundation - until some occasion of wise counsel arises. If God wishes to indicate some line of action to a soul He will not be content with speaking merely once. He will repeat His request with a quiet insistence, which sooner or later will produce a clear and certain knowledge of His wishes. He never blames us for refusing to follow doubtful leads. Uneasiness of this type is nearly always the work of the devil or of our own pride."
This brings to light the difference between how God speaks to us, and how the enemy tempts/distracts us. It emphasizes the importance of listening, careful deliberation, seeking the council of wise friends and/or priests, and trusting in the discernment process to ensure we have clear direction from God. It warns against impulsivity, and commands prudence in our spiritual reading.
If you find this wisdom to be a blessing as you digest whatever spiritual writings you committed to for Lent, praise God for that. Like the advice itself, if you find this troubling without a clear reprimand from one's conscience, then put it aside and carry on!