Must the writings of Saints and the Magisterium take priority when reading?


I was browsing threads here awhile ago and came across one about the Index of Forbidden Books’ relevance for today. I’m not incredibly interested in that topic as there are few books on the Index I want to read and I am very well-formed academically in the faith (yes, I am both this and scrupulous, it is indeed possible) and would thus be able to refute any anticlericalism, but one article that was linked on the matter made me start wondering about the morality of reading non-Catholic books in general:

[quote=]Is it grossly imprudent to read things which the Church has discouraged in the strongest terms? Yes. Is it a bad use of time when there are writings of the Magisterium, of the saints and the Catechism that are not being read? Absolutely.

Although this talks about books condemned by the Church, it is not clear to me why this argument cannot apply to all non-Catholic reading, or at least stuff that is not for school or work. Since any recreational reading that is spent on a work that is not overtly Catholic could be spent on an overtly Catholic work, is it imprudent to spend time on the former? The issue for me is that oftentimes I find connections to the faith in works which are not overtly Catholic, which can help both develop my own thought and provide a witness to those who may find the Church unpalatable at first. Furthermore, reading works that ultimately disagree with Catholicism can serve an apologetic function or help strengthen my faith as I see objections to it fail. However, it is not clear to me that this justifies spending time reading non-overtly Catholic books recreationally. I guess I just feel conflicted because I worry one of my deepest personality traits and interests that I feel so convinced is not sin may end up being sin. I don’t want it to be that way but I feel aghast at the possibility. Can anybody offer me any advice?

Also, it’s not like I don’t read overtly Catholic books, it’s just that not all my recreational reading is spent on them… still very conflicted


I agree that it is “grossly imprudent to read things which the Church has discouraged in the strongest terms.”

However, don’t be scrupulous. God does not demand that we spend every spare moment reading Catholic books.


The Poem of the Man-God purports to be a fuller biography of Christ dictated by Christ and Mary. Because of that, it cannot be read just as any old work of fiction–it will still leave erroneous impressions of Christ.

The Church recommends for people times of prayer, in which we get to know God; study, in which we learn about God; and relaxation, which we can use *wholesomely *to refresh ourselves.

Books placed on the Index are considered unwholesome, and thus to be read with great caution. This is different from reading books which do not purport to teach anything about the Faith–which does not mean that all of them are wholesome, either.


It sounds to me like your instincts are telling you to be reasonable, and your mind is arguing, “But what if it’s a trap?” I think you can go with your instincts here.

Is there a commandment that says, “Thou shalt not read secular books”? I don’t think so. (There is, however, a commandment that tells us to make time for recreation!) God wants us to be human. Humans like to read and write about a variety of topics. He doesn’t want us to be machines that calculate their every action. If He wanted us to be machines, He would have made us that way!

If you force yourself into mechanical perfection, eventually you will drive yourself crazy and snap, and then you really will sin. And if you waste your energy worrying about whether it’s OK to read the newspaper, you won’t have any left to think about the actual sins you are really committing! So cut yourself some slack and read what you feel like. Life is tough enough without extra self-imposed rules!

If your heart is in the right place (and I think it is), then there will be times when you will naturally feel like picking up Catholic books. If you force yourself to read them, you may start to resent them. (And don’t dismiss those written by modern Catholic authors–they often have insight into the problems we are currently facing, and can be easier to get into when you’re not in the mood for something difficult.)

Finally (and I have had this happen before), you don’t want to be at a picnic and struggle for conversation because you literally have been doing nothing but reading the Lives of the Saints, and the person you’re talking to isn’t Catholic. That just makes Catholics look weird and inhibits our ability to witness!


I believe the Poem of the Mangod" by Maria Valtorta is judged by the Church to be simply pious reflections.There are too many odd erroneous errors to take much of it seriously. In addition some writings by Bl Catherine Emmerich were discarded when reviewing her cause.It was suspected they were not written by her but were an embelishment by the person she dictated the works to. Be careful of anything you read that clams to be “Catholic”. If it contradicts the Church or any known teaching or attempts to add new teachings stay far from it.


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