Meet a Reader: Father Joseph Presley


How you know me: I’m the parochial vicar (assistant pastor) at Corpus Christi and St. Patrick’s parishes in Galesburg and Sacred Heart parish, Abingdon. I am also a religious, a member of a small congregation named the Institute of Charity (Rosminians), founded by Blessed Antonio Rosmini, whose charism is universal charity.

Why I love reading: In the words of Francis Bacon, “Reading maketh a full man.” By reading we can have all of the wisdom and experience of the past as a gift without the labor of having to work it out ourselves; wisdom that is perennially valid. Bernard of Chartres used to say that we [the Moderns] are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants [the Ancients], and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter. And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants. “For whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4)

What I’m reading now:  Two books by Dietrich Von Hildebrand: Transformation in Christ and The Art of Living.

I became convinced that the personalistic philosophy of such original minds as Dietrich Von Hildebrand and John Paul II is the antidote to all the offenses against the life and dignity of the human person and a solid basis for constructing a civilization of life and love called for in Evangelium Vitae. I am reading Von Hildebrand because I find this philosophy to be extremely human(in the sense that God intended), rich and appealing, and I believe that this is the direction that God’s providence is leading humanity at this time.

I’m also reading Father Michael Gaitley’s The One Thing Is Three: How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything.

My favorite book: Apart from Sacred Scripture, my favorite book is The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis. It is like breathing the pure, clear air of heaven when I read it. I can dip into it anywhere at anytime and draw a profound lesson and strength and encouragement along with a clear vision of the truth. Moreover it never wears out. It never fails to re-center me on what is essential what is truly important. Definitely a book I would want to have with me on a desert island!