This calls for some explanation in view of the marvelous discoveries of the electronics media---the telephone and telegraph, radio and television, the film and radio and their derivatives.
I have no intention of making any competitive comparisons between the written word and other means of transmitting ideas or attitudes from one person to others.
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We begin to get some idea about the importance of reading from the simple fact that so many people are doing it.
He first of all made sure that the Semitic people discovered what we call phonetic writing about 2,000 B. and then provided to inspire persons to set down on parchment what God wanted all mankind to know about the divine mind and will until the end of time.
God invented writing to make reading of Scriptures possible.
Not only is reading important, but perhaps more than any other means of social communication it is in my judgment the most influential.
I am afraid that for many Catholics the term "spiritual reading" is either a strange expression, and they are not sure what it means, or they have heard that monks and nuns do it--whatever it is. Thousands of newspapers throughout the world, some with daily circulation of more than a million; thousands of periodicals, some with monthly circulation of many millions; thousands of books published annually, some by now with a publication history that is astronomical.
But spiritual reading is neither strange nor exotic as by now centuries of Christian experience testifies. Reading must be important seeing the influence that the printed word has had on human civilization.In order to do some justice to this very practical subject I propose to ask a series of questions and answer them as we go along. A good date for dating the beginning of the modern world is the dawn of the age of print. But the real proof for the significance of the printed word is the seldom realized fact that when God began what we call His public revelation, first to the Jews and then to the people of the New Israel who followed Christ, He made sure that the substance of this revelation was not only communicated orally, but was written down under divine inspiration.My hope is to end up with one good answer to the one question which is the subject of our reflections: spiritual reading---who needs it? The existence of the Bible, written in an age when very few people could read or write, is a lasting testimonial to what the Holy Spirit thinks of reading.Again, what is published is, by the law of economics if for no other reason, done professionally by persons who know what they are saying and say it intelligently and persuasively, even when they may not be writing truthfully.The written word, being in competition with other written words is done carefully and by and large in such a way that a maximum of thought goes into a minimum of content.Moreover, what is being read is normally done in solitude---the mind of the writer affecting the mind of the reader in a quiet, reflective and by definition sympathetic mood. Whence for all times has remained as part of our faith the famous words of Pilate: "Quod scripse scripsi"(What I have written, is written.) Consequently it can be read and reread years, centuries later.