During my years in the cell, I was told by the keeper of the keys that spiritual reading was important to know the mind of God in order to gain the respect and admiration of all. That motivation didn’t go very far with me because I hated the attention that came with being on any pedestal. But to resist and question would be to invite trouble, so I acquiesced when asked to read.
Being young and having no access to money, I read whatever was chosen for me. Reading should have brought a knife of illumination for me, but it didn’t – because, not only was I denied a say in the choice of reading material, I was also never given the books to be read from cover to cover; important bits from selected books were excerpted, typed out with personal clarification notes, and added to other excerpts, from other books, to form a collage of truths on a given topic.
So, I never really read a book in its entirety. I was given a heavily excerpted and edited version under the excuse that I lacked the intelligence to understand matters of the Lord unaided. It should have worked out just fine to read a summarized and simplified version better suited to my limited cognitive abilities, but it didn’t. I remained in that dank cell. Heaven was not opened to me because what I read was distorted through manipulation.
The work of the Holy Spirit to enlighten and edify was pre-empted through the controlling and censoring of reading material. By the barring of the Spirit, I was jailed too.
Today, I am no longer where I once was. I am free to read, to question and to ponder. I am encouraged by a strong and loving husband to seek the truth through spiritual reading. But he has never once endeavored to take the place of the Spirit – to force my enlightenment towards a path that leads back to him. He has steered clear of being the gatekeeper to my own soul.
It is this freedom that I now know, that allows me to seek God through the means denied to me before. It is a seeking blessed and nourished by the Spirit. I do not always understand all I read. Often, I have doubted and prematurely rejected goldpearls of truth. But all this makes up the essence of any true journey undertaken in absolute spiritual freedom.
When you immerse your mind and heart in spiritual books, you will always be filled, for spiritual reading gives you a foundation in God ~ St John Chrysostom
Read some chapter of a devout book….It is very easy and most necessary, for just as you speak to God when at prayer, God speaks to you when you read. ~ St. Vincent de Paul
And read, we must, in order to be free. To never be jailed by human will. Spiritual reading directed by the Spirit always leads to a true knowing of God and His ways. Read in joy, certainly, but read when in sorrow and fear too, because it is what keeps the Light shining in our spirits even in the midst of storms.
As we feed our bodies, so must we, with greater diligence, feed our souls with Manna from our Saviour’s hands.