Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer (spiritual) reading list

A blogger asked, “Fr G, have you a suggested summer reading list?” Thanks for the question, Anon. Here are some ideas from the reading list we have at the Newman Center. It comes from "Catholic Faith Alive!" To view the entire list, please click on today’s title.

The (slow) reading of Sacred Scripture takes precedence over all the following. I recommend one chapter or less per day of The Jerusalem Bible, the version with footnotes.

The lives of the saints bear a particular relationship to Scripture. St Francis de Sales wrote, "There is no more difference between the Gospel written and the life of a saint than between music written and music sung."

The books in the first section are recommended for those who are new to spiritual reading. They were chosen for their interest and readability. More advanced spirituality, in books more difficult to read, is found in the lists, "intermediate," and "advanced" which follow.

Spiritual reading should be done a little at a time, from five to fifteen minutes a day, but every day without fail, barring some extraordinary crisis. It should be second in priority only to prayer. It is done for formation, not for entertainment, and thus doing only a small amount daily will keep the more interesting material from being read too quickly–and not retained–and the less interesting from being too painful. Note well: spiritual reading is very different from theological reading.

*1. Our Lady of Fatima, by Wm. Thomas Walsh, Image Books, & The Sun Danced at Fatima, by Fr. Joseph Pelletier, A. A. Two of the most fascinating book ever written about these apparitions of Mary in 1917 to three small children (2 beatified) in Portugal.

*2. The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St Thérèse of Lisieux, Institute of Carmelite Studies. A classic. Different translation avail. from TAN. And, The Story of A Family: The Home of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by Fr. Piat, OFM. TAN. Gives great insight into the holy lives of each member of this remarkable family. Several family members are up for canonization, including the parents.

*5. Treasure in Clay, autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen, Doubleday. Fascinating account of this famous, holy priest and bishop, the "TV priest.".

*8. St. Francis of Assisi, by Omer Englebert, Servant Pubs. Excellent book on this humble, strong saint!

**13. The Curé d'Ars by Francis Trochu, TAN. Best account of this delightful, humble parish priest. 600 pp.

**14. St. Teresa of Avila, A Biography, by Marcelle Auclair, St. Bede Pubs. Perhaps the best book ever written on St. Teresa in English. If this is not in print, try or Also *St. Teresa of Avila, by William Thomas Walsh, TAN Books.

*15. Bernadette Speaks: In Her Own Words by Fr. Rene Laurentin, Daughters of St. Paul. Fast-moving account of this simple, uneducated, but sharp young woman to whom Mary appeared at Lourdes in 1858.

*16. The Death Camp Proved Him Real: The Life of Father Maximilian Kolbe by Maria Winowska, Franciscan Marytown Press. Gripping story of a Marian priest who died for another in Nazi prison camp.

*3. Introduction to the Devout Life, St Francis de Sales, TAN Books. THE book on lay spirituality.

4. Saint Maker: The Remarkable Life of St. Francis de Sales by Michael de la Bedoyere, Sophia Press. Fine account of this great spiritual director.

6. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, Various publishers. Short thoughts on spirituality. Classic.

*8. Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena, Paulist Press, Trans. by Suzanne Noffke, OP, Classics of Western Spirituality. Private revelations of God the Father to St Catherine of Siena, the great saint and doctor of the Church.

*9. The Life of Christ, F. J. Sheen, Image. Insightful explanation of all the major passages of the gospels.

10. By C. S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters, Simon & Schuster; The Four Loves, Harvest Bks; Mere Christianity, Harper. 3 contemporary classics by a 20th century Anglican apologist.

11. The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, Image Books. A guide to a 30 day retreat by the founder of the Jesuits. Classic.

*12. The Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St Thérèse of Lisieux, Fr Jamart, OCD, Alba House. Excellent insights into St Thérèse and her spirituality.

14. The Holy Eucharist, and a host of other books by St Alphonsus Ligouri; TAN books. Classic works.

15. True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, by St Louis de Montfort, Alba House. A classic on finding Jesus through consecration to Mary.

16. Butler's Lives of the Saints, 4 vol, Christian Classics or 1 vol version by Harper & Row. Classic.

These works are more difficult reading but are deeply spiritual. (No pain, no gain!)

1. The Complete Works of St Teresa of Avila, 3 vols, Inst. for Carmelite Studies: Her Autobiography (read this first), The Way of Perfection, Interior Castle, **Foundations, etc. Read this woman! Great!

2. The complete Works of St John of the Cross, Institute for Carmelite Studies: Spiritual Canticle, and Living Flame of Love, read first. Then try the more difficult, The Dark Night of the Soul, and The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Classics, but not easy reading.

3. Confessions of St Augustine, various publishers. Classic autobiography of this sinner, turned saint.

4. The Cloud of Unknowing, Anonymous, Image Books. Deep. On contemplation, perfection.

5. Writings of the Church Fathers such as Augustine, Chrysostom, Gregory the Great, Ephraem, Ambrose.

**Most, of these books can be found or For used books, try, or

(This is not spiritual reading.)

*National Catholic Register - P. O. Box 373, Mt. Morris, IL 61054. (800) 421-3230; Weekly, theological, orthodox. Very pro-life.

This Rock - P.O. Box 17490 - San Diego, CA 92177 - 888-291-8000; Magazine of Catholic apologetics (defending the faith). Very good.

Our Sunday Visitor - Very Catholic weekly.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Ignatius, & other publishers, 1994. THE SOURCE. In most bookstores.

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Ludwig Ott, TAN. 1954 Classic. Excellent!

Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) - Mother Angelica's network. If your cable company doesn't have it, get the DISH satellite system. Call (800) 733-3986. At you can find out about WEWN short wave radio or download Church documents.


Anonymous said...

Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan’s “Testimony of Hope” is the book I default to thinking about when confronted with the cruelties of life. The Cardinal’s writing style flows as effortlessly as his compassion and unwavering faith in Christ. I believe this book speaks volumes to the belief that Christ’s love always trumps the Devil’s evil.

Anonymous said...

Could you please tell me where I could purchase the book
The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, A guide to a 30 day retreat by the founder of the Jesuits by Image books. I can't seem to find that edition online.