A few months ago, I started visiting the library at a now-defunct Jesuit scholasticate (Mt. St. Michael). I went there partly out of curiosity and also because a very good friend of mine worked there. The library itself is divided into three libraries: one for the parish, one for the Sisters of the CMRI, and one for the priests and seminarians. They are thus divided up into floors with the main floor serving as the parish library.
Over those few months, I was allowed to visit certain parts of the library which contained old books and breviaries. Some of these had been left by the Jesuits when they sold the property to the CMRI in 1978, other things had been collected by the present administration.
I found many treasures that were hidden in dusty boxes and on shelves that hadn’t been touched for what seemed like 30 or 40 years. There were old Catholic devotional magazines that had been published in the Diocese of Spokane and then boxed up, breviaries from Benedictine abbeys, as well as all kinds of other interesting things including copies of the Missale Romanum that went back close to 100 years. So many treasures had been left up there to gather dust and yet so few people aside from the seminarians in Omaha and the priests ever had access to them.
I suppose that I was lucky, you could say, because my friend allowed me to go upstairs and look through the books for almost anything that I wanted. Of course, I paid for the books which went as a donation towards the school’s funds. Coming down that hill with those precious volumes in my hands, I often wondered to whom they had belonged or how they had made it up there.
Sitting in front of me on my computer is a copy of the Breviarium Monasticum, a breviary that was (and still is?) in use among the Benedictines. I found it up there in the breviary room together with its companion volume in their original slip cases. It seemed to me that either the previous owner had never even touched them or that they had been replaced by another newer breviary some years down the line. Yet I still wonder to whom they belonged. There are names on the front cover of two Benedictines with the years in which they acquired the breviary, but I know very little aside from their names.
I also have books that have come from convents, Catholic high schools, and seminaries from around the country and my own area. All of these remind me of the things that we have lost since Vatican II and what we are slowly regaining. This website it seems to me could not have come into existence without my visits to that library and the fact that I was allowed to read all of these books. Indeed, it enriched my faith and allowed me to understand it much better than previously.
I believe that all of these things have happened through Divine Providence. Indeed, God has the ability to provide us with things when we usually don’t look for them or think that we do not need them. Yet these things can be a great blessing to us in our spiritual lives and in the lives of others. Old books may deserve to be thrown away or burned because of their condition, but some of them contain wisdom that only old books have. Especially if they were never reprinted.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us!