Instruction — this brings us to the Lenten reading program. The time saved through abstention from movies — and it is astonishing to find how much it is! — will be devoted to a carefully chosen reading program. Every year we should divide our reading into three parts: something for the mind, something for the heart, something for the soul.
Something for the mind: This should mean doing serious research. One year we might work on the history of the Church; another year on the sacraments; or we might carefully study a scholarly life of Our Lord Jesus Christ; or a book on Christian ethics; or the Encyclicals of the Pope; or a book on dogma.
For the soul: This should be spiritual reading of a high order, from the works of the saints or saintly writers. For example, The Ascent of Mt. Carmel, by St. John of the Cross; The Introduction to a Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales; The Story of a Soul, by St. Thérèse of Lisieux; The Spiritual Castle, by St. Teresa of Avila; The Soul of the Apostolate, by Abbot Chautard; the books of Abbot Marmion, and similar works.
For the heart: According to the old proverb, “Exempla trahunt,” it is most encouraging to read the biographies of people who started out as we did but had their minds set on following the word of Our Lord, “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” In other words, to read a well-written biography of a saint (canonized or not) will have the same effect on us as it had once on St. Augustine, who said, after watching saintly people living a holy life: “If he could do it, and she, why not I?”
If every member of a family adopts this threefold reading program and comments on the books he has been working on, a great benefit will be flowing from one to the other as they exchange the spiritual goods obtained from their reading.
[excerpted from Around the Year with the Trapp Family]