Consider these resources that could enhance your spiritual growth

Reading material, cup of coffee are winning combination

By Steve McMahon

Special to The Witness

During these dark, cold months of winter, it’s especially important to have some good spiritual reading material on hand since we’re more confined to our homes than during the warm, outdoorsy months of the year.

But really any time of the year, regardless of weather conditions, is a good time to work on our ongoing spiritual growth. The Advent and Lenten seasons, of course, always provide added incentive.

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It’s especially nice to digest a few pages early in the day, along with our morning cup of coffee. So while you’re jump-starting your mind and body with a cup o’ joe, you’re also jump-starting your soul with your morning reflection.

A good trilogy to have on hand year round is 1) the current copy of “Living Faith,” 2) a book that includes commentary and reflections on the Gospels of the weekly Lectionary, and 3) your Bible.

“Living Faith” is the small booklet of daily Catholic devotions published four times a year. It can be picked up free in the back of many Catholic churches in the archdiocese.

These three resources are interrelated, each dealing with the same topic on a given day and all complementing one another. In other words, you first read the short message in “Living Faith,” then go to your Lectionary booklet to find the appropriate Scripture references,  read those Bible passages, and then return to your Lectionary booklet to break down what you just read in your Bible.

It’s much less complicated than it sounds and only takes 5-10 minutes to complete. And if you follow up your morning (or evening) reading with attendance at daily Mass, the readings and homily there further bring to life what you read earlier that day (or evening before).

Using the ministry of praise, let’s not forget to acknowledge those lay lectors, deacons, and priests who present the word of the Lord to us at Mass, then break it down and simplify it for our deeper understanding.

Incidentally, if you’re doing spiritual reading beyond this trilogy, consider donating your book to your parish book exchange once you’ve completed it, rather than placing it in your personal library, with little likelihood of ever picking it up again.

Also keep in mind that the Education Resource Center within the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Dubuque is a state-of-the-art library of sorts where you can borrow all kinds of spiritual resources. Kim and Tricia are widely known for their friendliness and outstanding service there.

If you prefer to go online, here are some book titles, along with the Amazon site where you can find them:

• “The Gospels of the Weekday Lection­ary: Commentary and Reflections.” http://www.amazon.com/The-Gospels-Weekday-Lectionary-Reflections/dp/0814633382

• “Reflections on the Weekday Lectionary Readings.”

http://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Weekday-Lectionary-Readings-Roland/dp/0809145413

• “Between Sundays.”

http://www.amazon.com/Between–Sundays-Reflections-Inspirational-Catholic/dp/1585951692

• “With Hearts on Fire.”

http://www.amazon.com/Between–Sundays-Reflections-Inspirational-Catholic/dp/1585951692

And here are some online resources. You don’t even have to purchase anything at all, except for Internet access:

http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/daily.html

    http://catholicdioceseofwichita.org/
-dailyreflections

http://www.loyolapress.com/3-minute-retreats-daily-online-prayer.htm

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings

McMahon is a writer and copy editor who retired after many years of service at The Witness.

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