No, I’m not warning of an impending Armageddon or that the Trotskyites have taken power. This is just a short rumination. I like to do that every once in a while to make sure I haven’t bought into this world’s viewpoint. It’s also a good time to trim the fat in my possessions. To make sure I’m not weighed down by more than I need. Have your ever met a pilgrim? Is he carting a McMansion behind him?

There is a difference between being prepared and being a “prepper”. Hmmm . . . that is another post in itself.

Hardcopy Over eBooks

Why take something that consumes precious physical space? We are living in the 21st Century, aren’t we?

An eBook only works where you have power. What will you do on the fourth day of hiking the Pacific Crest trail? Or the pilgrim trail to the relics at Santiago de Compostela? You may not be hauling everything on this list then, but I hope you might take one.

What if I need an extended stay off the grid? Maybe a retreat cabin fueled by firewood and kerosene lamps. A true hermitage. Then a tiny shelf with these four would suit me fine.

Travel aside, I am trying to improve my sleep habits by cutting off the powered screens of phone and tablet and TV an hour before bed. Since I still believe in the “His Word is the last word” philosophy (yet another post), I have the Scriptures to read by the bedside. Three Psalms and I’m out.

So ok. What would I bring if I were exiled?

The Complete Bible

Yeah?! I bet all of you listed this one as your number one book. Make sure it is complete by spot checking for Maccabees and the Wisdom of Solomon, aka Ecclesiasticus. Sometime it helps to see things in an unchangeable black and white. And you want to see it in context, as that is the first layer of sense in the Scriptures.

Besides, do you want to run into Malachi in heaven and have him ask you what you thought of his book?  What would you answer? “Tight plot, with well-developed characters, and the ending left me breathless and wanting more!” Right.

The Missal

In the old days the missal was one large book. With our A, B, and C Sunday cycles as well as our year 1 and 2 daily cycles, the missal is now a multi-volume work.

There are two reasons for suggesting this work. First, you encounter God’s Word in a connective web. The Church sees these passages as relevant to what it is emphasizing for that day. There is a rhyme and especially a reason why that Old Testament Passage, that Psalm, and that Gospel are put together. An excellent exercise is to find the common theme(s) in the collection for the day.

Second, the missal is a school of prayer. If you are not fluent in speaking to the Deity, you could do a lot worse in observing how the church goes about praising God and asking for things. Look at the “collect” prayer for each mass. What kind of things does it ask for? Finding the answer to that can change your life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Trying to start again from nothing but the Bible (shortened edition) in order to build your own systematic view of God, man, and everything is a lesson in futility. It is one of the reasons why there are two thousand shades of Protestants. We believe we have not only the Scriptures but also the teaching of the Twelve Apostles handed down to us. The Catechism boils down and separates things into a systematic, topical view. It saves you two thousand years of effort while giving you the reasons behind why the church teaches what it does. Many original sources are referenced in the footnotes.

A Good Catholic Hymnal

Why a hymnal? You can’t sing. I can’t sing. None of our singing is equal to the perfection due God. Nonetheless, God asks us to “Make a joyful Noise!”

We still owe God our best effort at worship. A good hymnal contains a broad spectrum of emotions and situations. When we are depressed or ecstatic,  on Easter or the Assumption, found within are hymns which are proper expressions of our love and adoration.

Hymns were a large reason that the Protestant Reformation took off (let’s ignore church abuses and the printing press for the moment.) Protestant hymns taught basic doctrine, strengthened one in times of opposition, and taught one how to lift their hearts to God.

We have good hymns, too. They might be buried amidst the variety of modern songs were have. And everyone is different. Therefore, I will leave the selection of the hymnal to you. I enjoy The Adoremus Hymnal, which was published by Ignatius Press. Your mileage may vary. Be discerning. So go look and see what you like.

Ready for your exile?