Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) is an Old Testament book filled with moral teachings and maxims about living a good, holy life (similar to, say, the Book of Proverbs; it's organized with the "Wisdom Books"). For example:
"My son, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts." (Sirach 3:17)It is not part of the Protestant canon (they group it with the Apocrypha), but it has always been considered inspired by the Catholic Church*.
"No matter the wrong, do no violence to your neighbor, and do not walk the path of arrogance." (Sirach 10:6)
"Before investigating, find no fault; examine first, then criticize." (Sirach 11:7)
"Like the sun rising in the Lord's heavens, the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home." (Sirach 26:16)
It took me weeks to read it at the pace of one or two chapters a day, but it was a richly rewarding experience. There is so much wisdom contained in this book! Here are just a couple of the passages I love:
"My son, when you come to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
undisturbed in times of adversity.
Cling to him, forsake him not;
thus will your future be great.
Accept whatever befalls you,
in crushing misfortune be patient;
For in fire gold is tested,
and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust God and he will help you;
make straight your ways and hope in him." (Sirach 2:1-6)
"The works of God are all of them good;
in its own time every need is supplied.
At his word the waters become still as in a flask;
he had but to speak and the reservoirs were made.
He has but to command and his will is done;
nothing can limit his achievement.
The works of mankind are present to him;
not a thing escapes his eye.
His gaze spans all the ages;
to him there is nothing unexpected.
No cause then to say: 'What is the purpose of this?'
Everything is chosen to satisfy a need." Sirach 39:16-21
I highly recommend reading the Book of Sirach. It provided considerable peace in my life during a time when adjusting to the exhausting demands of new motherhood indeed made me feel like gold being tested in fire!
*For more reading on the basis for including the deuterocanonical books, check out some fascinating posts from Shameless Popery:
Jesus Christ and the Old Testament Canon
Did the Protestant Bible Exist Before the Reformation?
Jim Crow and the Protestant Bible