A wealth of information is hidden in parish libraries Print
Grand Mom
Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 -- 1:00 AM

grand mom

Back in the “old days” when I was a student at Madonna High school (early 40s) we were taught by an order of Francisan Sisters who were on their toes when it came to keeping up with the latest Church trends.

The liturgical movement had just emerged and the good Sisters endowed us with the latest in liturgical art and the best of Catholic literature.

They pooh-poohed the traditional idea of “giving up” things for Lent like candy or pie. Instead, they urged us to make sacrifices by “doing” something positive like going to daily Mass or doing 15 minutes of spiritual reading every day. That was my kind of sacrifice, and I have usually managed to follow those guidelines every year, frequently finding that the habit carried over during the rest of the year, too.

Daily spiritual reading

Those ideas were simply reinforced by the Benedictine Sisters in Minnesota, in college, where I forged life-long friendships with women of substance, who include reading as part of their daily spiritual hygiene.

My best friend, Pat Opatz, also the mother of 10 (we swapped maternity clothes for years) instituted a form of mothers’ therapy with her “Mama’s Quiet Hour.” Every day at one o’clock each child was required to go to his or her bed to read or sleep. This plan produced mothers that retained their sanity and children who loved books.

Parish libraries

Where does one find spiritual reading?

Parish libraries are the best source, and many parishes in our diocese have established their own. Our parish in Fort Atkinson has a great one, with over 3,000 titles in all, including several shelves of spiritual books which would qualify for Lenten reading: books about our faith, biographies of the saints or other great men and women, motivational and inspirational stories, children’s books, and books for teens. We also have many books on Scripture, Church history, and some fiction.

A few months ago I accidentally stumbled upon the Wisconsin chapter of the National Catholic Library Association (NCLA). An article in the Catholic Herald about an upcoming convention caught my eye, and I saw it as a possibility for my daughter Elizabeth to sell her newly published book, Saint Training.

Discovered ‘goldmine’

We ended up attending the conference and discovering a gold mine. I assumed that members would all be school librarians, but was amazed to learn the NCLA included parish librarians among its members, too.

Since our parish doesn’t have an official librarian, and I am on our library committee assigned to new purchases, I was in heaven! I returned home loaded down with bags of books, newsletters, and two copies of Catholic Library World, the annual review of the newest and best Catholic books being published.

Another benefit of membership arrived this week in the form of a newsletter from Marcia, our liaison between the Wisconsin Catholic Library Association and the Madison Diocese. A list of books recommended for parish libraries included a couple of titles for teens, an area our library committee wants to expand.

I thought about the teenagers in our parish, and compared them to the rich Catholic heritage I had been immersed in when I was their age.

My own favorite English teacher had designed a course called, “A-Book-A-Month to Form a Catholic Mind.” I still remember the authors: Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, G.K. Chesterton, fiction writers whose characters dealt with spiritual issues.

When I went online, I was able to purchase copies of these books for our parish, newly reprinted in paperback, from Loyola Press. Meanwhile, I am proposing a visit to our parish Confirmation class this spring to review a few books and let the young adults know our parish library is at their disposal.

I think God is telling me something. I could do more work on the parish library. I could spend more time there and do more to promote good reading in our parish.

Now that I am no longer spending hours visiting my husband every day, I could discover what books we have and what we really need. I could become a real librarian! I need to do some spiritual reading and praying about that.

If that’s what He wants me to do, do you think He might keep this 83 year-old body going for a few more years? It’s a deal!

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