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

The sessions will be offered from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Feb. 28 in person at the hall of Holy Family Church, 607 Sabattus St. in Lewiston, and virtually via Microsoft Teams.

“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 Greenleaf, according to a news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. “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 the parish has been a success since its inception in September, according to the diocese. It leads parishioners and community members through classic Catholic spiritual texts, page by page and chapter by chapter.

Materials also are be available each week online at princeofpeace.me. From the very first book, 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 Greenleaf.

For more information or to register, visit princeofpeace.me/imitation-of-christ.

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