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Have you ever focused like a laser beam on just one book for an extended period in your spiritual reading? I'm thinking of doing this. But I have a problem: My appetite for spiritual reading is so voracious that I go from book to book constantly. I'm sure this is common. For those of you who were like this and then changed to a focused approach, tell us about your experience.

It was this passage from the Introduction to Humility of Heart that has caused me to think seriously about doing this:

"There is a great advantage in using such a book as this for two or three years consecutively as a meditation book. The human mind is so volatile, the character so restless, convictions are so slow in taking a deep and permanent hold on our practical life, that I have always considered that a retreat made upon one idea, and two or three years given to the meditation of one great subject is productive of more solid good than the following out of the ordinary system, which, of course, has it own advantages, commending it to the greater number. I venture even to think that for many persons living amidst the distractions of the world, such as priests engaged in the active ministry, and devout men and women of the laity, who are deeply in earnest about the work of their sanctification, the persevering study of one book for years, such as the "Spiritual Combat," St. Alphonsus on " Prayer," Blessed de Montfort on "True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary," Padre Gaetano on "Humility of Heart," Palma on "The Passion," and certain other treatises which need not be named here, is far more important than for recluses and good people living out of the world. We never get a proper hold of a great spiritual doctrine until we have lived in it and been saturated by it. The soul must soak in the brine until it has become wholly impregnated with its qualities. And is this process likely to be carried out by one who thirsts for variety and is always on the move towards some totally new sensation from the one that at present occupies his feelings? There is the question of breadth, I know, as well as depth. But he who said "Times hominem unius libri" hit a truth that must be felt by every earnest soul.

"One need not fear that the constant handling of one book will dry up the mind, if the topic treated be one of primary importance, and if it be the work of a master on the spiritual life. The number of thoughts and truths suggested by such a book are truly wonderful. It often will happen that far more is suggested than is actually put down by the hand of the writer. But to enjoy this result, you must have put away all hurry; you must have said, 'I am going to spend at least a year with this friend; I am going to take him not merely for a friend but for a master and a guide.'"

The whole book is here:

http://www.catholictradition.org/Classic...tm#Preface
Thanks for sharing this.
I used to read a section of The Imitation of Christ every night and went through it about three times.
(02-10-2011, 05:23 PM)Gman Wrote: [ -> ]Thanks for sharing this.

Yes, thanks.  I have a bad habit of jumping from book to book, and this advice sounds worthwhile.  Maybe that can be one of my Lenten penances, to stick with one book.
There is a quote from Brahms in which he spoke about the superior benefits of mastering one piece of music vs. sloppily learning a whole collection of pieces.  There is probably a corollary to religious reading as well as any other endeavour.  A Jesuit one time quoted a Latin phrase of St. Ignatius of Loyola that translated to "do what you're doing" in order to avoid distraction. 
(02-11-2011, 09:17 AM)B of Navarre Wrote: [ -> ]
(02-10-2011, 05:23 PM)Gman Wrote: [ -> ]Thanks for sharing this.

Yes, thanks.  I have a bad habit of jumping from book to book, and this advice sounds worthwhile.  Maybe that can be one of my Lenten penances, to stick with one book.

I mentioned my scattered reading to my confessor yesterday, how I have this voracious appetite for great spiritual books and jump from one to another. His assessment surprised me: he said this is rooted in pride. As my penance, he's forbidden me to do any spiritual reading other than Humility of Heart for the next week.