Summer's here, and for many people, that means beach reading! Before you pick up the next novel, though, have you thought about doing some spiritual reading? It's hard to start what are sometimes very challenging reads, but your soul needs stimulation just like your brain does. If you're anything like me, you may need a little help starting, so here's a list of five ways to motivate yourself and possibly others, too:
1) Pick something you can manage. You don't have to read the Summa Theologica! There are many shorter books available if you want them. I am currently making my way through The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, and Chesterton's Orthodoxy is also on the list. Asking friends for suggestions is an excellent way to find something appropriate.
2) Set aside a time and place for spiritual reading. You need to be able to focus if you want to learn something, so find a place with few distractions. Scheduling a time to read is also helpful to keep yourself on track. If you are a night person, try reading before you say your prayers. If you can't keep your eyes open, however, it might be more beneficial to read in the morning or at another time of day when you are more alert.
3) Give yourself a minimum reading limit every day. This could be in time intervals (as in, "I'll read for 15 minutes every evening.") or in reading assignments ("I need to read 10 pages every day."). Deadlines are always helpful!
4) Find a reading buddy. Talking about the book is a great way to motivate yourself to actually get the reading done, and it helps you understand and retain the material better. Since this is spiritual reading, make sure you're comfortable talking to this person: religion can get personal!
5) Pray! Ask for the perseverance to help you through, for the patience to read carefully, and for the wisdom to understand. If your book is by a saint, ask that saint for prayers, too!
It's hard to start (and finish) a lot of religious works, but in the end it's very rewarding. It takes a lot of practice and discipline (like anything else), but if it helps you to grow in your relationship with God, it's worth the effort. Happy reading!