LEWISTON — As part of the Prince of Peace Parish initiative “Reading the Catholic Classics Together,” Fr. Daniel Greenleaf, pastor of the Lewiston parish, will lead Maine Catholics through “The Imitation of Christ” starting on Monday, Jan. 17.

The sessions will be offered in person at the hall of Holy Family Church, located on 607 Sabattus Street in Lewiston, and virtually via Microsoft Teams on Monday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. from Jan. 17 through Feb. 28.  For more information or to register, visit www.princeofpeace.me/imitation-of-christ.

“Having it online allows elderly who do not want to go out at night to participate. Young families with children at home do not need a babysitter, and those who are fearful of COVID-19 do not miss out,” said Fr. Greenleaf. “Those who want to be in person have that option, too.”

“The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas à Kempis is a Christian devotional book first composed in Latin in the 15th century. It is a handbook for spiritual life arising from the Devotio Moderna movement, of which Kempis was a member, and regarded as a devotional and religious classic. Apart from the Bible, no book has been translated into more languages. The text is divided into four books, which provide detailed spiritual instructions: “Helpful Counsels of the Spiritual Life”, “Directives for the Interior Life”, “On Interior Consolation,” and “On the Blessed Sacrament.” The approach taken in the book is characterized by its emphasis on the interior life and withdrawal from the world and places a high level of emphasis on the devotion to the Eucharist as a key element of spiritual life.

The “Reading the Catholic Classics Together” initiative at Prince of Peace Parish has been on overwhelming success since its inception in September. It leads parishioners and community members through classic Catholic spiritual texts, page by page and chapter by chapter.

“Each week, the bulletin provides a summary of the readings and questions for reflection and on Mondays, those interested gather to discuss the week’s assignment. A link to the parish Microsoft Teams account is provided for those who cannot gather but would still like to participate,” said Fr. Greenleaf.

Materials are also be available each week on the Prince of Peace website (www.princeofpeace.me). From the very first book, Fr. Greenleaf knew there was great interest.

“I ordered 500 books for people who wanted physical copies to read from. At $5 per book to cover cost, they were gone before the last Mass of the weekend even began,” said Fr. Greenleaf.

Organizers hope that as the pages read and insightful experiences add up, so will the number of participants.  

“Today, with everyone’s busy schedule, we want to offer different kinds of opportunities to engage people,” said Fr. Greenleaf. “The response has been wonderful, and I hope the success continues.”