Baron von Hügel
(1852 – 1925)
That daily quarter of an hour [of reading], for now forty years or more, I am sure has been one of the greatest sustenances and sources of calm for my life. Of course, such ‘reading’ is hardly reading in the ordinary sense of the word at all. As well could you call the letting a very slowly dissolving lozenge melt imperceptibly in your mouth ‘eating’. Such reading is, of course, meant as directly as possible to feed the heart, to fortify the will – to put these into contact with God – thus, by the book, to get away from the book to the realities it suggests – the longer the better. And above all, perhaps it excludes, by its very object, all criticism, all going off on one’s own thoughts as, in any way, antagonistic to the book’s thoughts; and this, not by any unreal (and most dangerous) forcing of oneself to swallow, or to ‘like’, what does not attract one’s simply humble self, but (on the contrary) by a gentle passing by, by an instinctive ignoring of what does not suit one’s soul. This passing by should be without a trace of would-be objective judging; during such reading we are simply and solely to feed our own poor soul, such as it is here and now. What repels or confuses us now may be the very food of angels; it may even still become the light to our own poor souls in this world’s dimness. We must exclude none of such possibilities, the ‘infant crying for the light’ has nothing to do with more than just humbly finding, and then using, the little light that it requires.
I need not say that I would not restrict you to only one quarter of an hour a day. You might find two such helpful. But I would not exceed the fifteen minutes at any one time; you would sink to ordinary reading, if you did.