A Spirituality of Study

bookshelves - courtesy of Grace MuldoonFor students and teachers involved in academic life, early fall can feel like being shot out of a cannon. It can be jarring to move from the slow pace of summer rest into the overscheduled life of reading, writing, scheduling meetings, meeting deadlines, and so on. Hamlet’s response to Polonius’s question of what he was reading comes to mind: “words, words, words!”

As a writer, I find it consoling to contemplate a bookshelf and recall that each of the books on it represents a long labor of love. Writing a book takes a great deal of time and effort. It requires a love for one’s subject. It is an act of hope that someone, somewhere might benefit by one’s labor—perhaps even by experiencing some form of conversion, however small.

The next time I read someone’s words, I will resolve to hold that person—alive or dead—in my prayer. I will offer God thanks for his or her intellectual labor. I will pray in thanksgiving for the love that motivated the author to hold fast to the topic for months or years in the hope that it might give light to others.

But I will also have the courage to ask questions and lovingly offer critique if I see it. With intellectual humility, I will bring my questions into conversation with others in the hope of approaching the truth. In seeking truth I will remind myself that my desire for it is itself a seed of the Word, a dimension of my personhood which reflects God’s image. I will practice a spirituality of the question.

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Tim Muldoon
Tim Muldoon is the author of a number of books, including The Ignatian Workout and Living Against the Grain, and teaches in the Department of Philosophy at Boston College.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Spirituality is as intriguing as the ‘great unknown’. Every step requires a leap of faith. There is no need to fear what you don’t understand, but deep abiding respect is advisable as everything is relative.

    • We are mere reflections of the truth, made in God’s image.
      There is no future, only resounding ripples of history, multiplied by mystery. Now is the only time that matters.

  2. Blessings on this post! The love, patience, and commitment shown by writers are gifts from God. Very few people have the ability to shape words into sentences for inspiring and motivating someone. Yet, as clearly indicated, reading, like any other media, is not always correct just because it is published ! Critical thinking and reading are required to ask the questions which may linger, or to take the opposing views if necessary.
    Never accept carte Blanche!

  3. Mr. Muldoon,
    As Parish Librarian, I want you to know that your Ignatian Workout book is always “out” and we have two copies–and they both come back with Rave Reviews. It’s excellent. Thank You for your writing–it blesses many.

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