Rev. Prof. Laurent Touze

Rev. Prof. Laurent Touze                                           



Reading for Spiritual Formation

 Fr. Touze gave a talk on the first day of the Spiritual  Formation Work­shop entitled “Reading for Spiritual  Formation”. Above all, the Bible is essential for a  Christian to read and he quoted the famous words of St. Je­rome, “Ignorance of Scripture is igno­rance of Christ.” 

An important source for the “clas­sics” of spiritual reading and devo­tional practices is the book Modern Devotion (Devotio Moderna) which is not modern by today’s understanding. It was written in the late fourteenth-century. Thomas à Kempis’ book The Imitation of Christ uses principles he found in this earlier book, stressing a personal connection to God and showing love toward Him, particu­larly in the Blessed Sacrament.

More than a book, Modern Devo­tion was also the name of a religious reform movement calling for an in­crease in pious practices such as hu­mility, obedience, and simplicity of life. One devotional method taught in this movement was to project one­self into the imagery of a Bible scene to participate in the life of Jesus. The “Spiritual Exercises” of St. Ignatius of Loyola, as well as the teaching of St. Teresa of Avila, use this method of mental prayer.

Fr. Touze echoed the advice of the saints to set aside a fixed time for spiritual reading. Among the saints to promote spiritual reading was St. Josemaría Escrivá who wrote: “Don’t neglect your spiritual reading. Reading has made many saints . . . In my spiri­tual reading I build up a store of fuel. It looks like a lifeless heap, but I find that my memory, of its own accord, will draw from it material which fills my prayer with life and inflames my thanksgiving after Communion.” (The Way, n.116-117)

In his talk, Fr. Touze said that books can be among our best spiritu­al directors. Although reading intel­lectual books is essential for a priest’s education, reading the Fathers of the Church along with devotional clas­sics is also important.