“Meet a Reader” Feature: Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB

This week’s Catholic Post Book Page features a new article series called, “Meet a Reader”  Each month, we’ll highlight the reading of someone, almost always from within the Diocese of Peoria, who shares a love of books and reading.

Ourinagural “Reader” is Sister Catherine Cleary, and I’ve had a delightful e-correspondence with her in preparing this month’s feature.  I look forward to meeting her someday soon!  Thanks, Sister Catherine, for sharing your selections and your love of books.

Who:  Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB
Spiritual director and retreat leader, Benet House Retreat Center
St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island
Why I Love Reading:
My love for reading developed as I was growing up with my nine sisters and brothers on a farm between Gridley and El Paso, Ill.  Both of my parents read a lot and read to us. Saturday afternoon was synonymous with a trip to catechism and to the library.  My father would often quote a line of poetry and challenge us to finish it and name both author and poem.  The line usually fit the circumstances of our lives at the time.
My childhood reading experience was excellent preparation for Benedictine life, since the Rule of Benedict directs us to read Scripture, to do Lectio Divina and encourages us to read and to study as part of our spiritual life.
I love reading because books can take me to another century, another country, and/or to new areas of interest. Words can transform my day, my thinking and my attitude from the ho- hum to a new level of beauty.
What I’m Reading Now:
­*Mildred Walker’s Winter Wheat tells the story of Ellen Webb, growing up on a desperately poor wheat ranch in Montana in the 1940s. One can see the ruggedness of the land, feel the cold and heat, taste the blowing dust and experience the joy and the pain of Ellen’s relationships.
*Three Cups of Tea, Cups of Tea highlights social entrepreneur Gregory Mortensen’s mission to promote peace by bringing education to children of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The writing is lively, but book’s chief value is showing how one person’s passion and sacrifice can make an enormous difference.
*Finally, Hemlock at Vespers by Peter Tremayne, is a collection of mystery short stories, and an enjoyable way to learn about the culture and history of 7th century Ireland.  Sister Fidelma, a qualified attorney, travels about the country solving cases, much to the dismay and surprise of the men of the Church, her own monastery, and the legal profession.
My Favorite Book:
It is difficult to pick one favorite book, but one is Thomas Merton’s Dialogues with Silence; here his writing echoes the conversations of his inner spirit, the world around him and his dialogue with God. What appeals to me most is Merton’s honesty, his sheer truthfulness about his inner self, his seeking his true self and his abandoning his false self.