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10 Books to jumpstart your spiritual reading


Ben White | CC0

Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP - published on 10/08/19

Turning our minds to thoughts of God by the practice of spiritual reading allows our minds to think of higher things with greater delight and ease.

Why undertake spiritual reading? With so many ways to grow in the faith (undertaking works of charity, joining Bible studies, serving in a parish ministry, prayer) why should I spend time alone with a book?

Catherine of Siena wanted so badly to read that the Lord gave her the gift of learning to read miraculously. Her Dominican friar friends gave her the most precious gifts (after the sacraments!) they could: they shared books with her. The American Jesuit Fr. John Hardon says, “Spiritual reading is necessary as the normal way of nourishing the Christian faith.” Recognizing that growth in the spiritual life is always due to God’s grace, we can, nevertheless, dispose ourselves to receive his grace. 

St. Thomas Aquinas contends: we cannot love what we do not know. Knowledge precedes love, because Christians are not able to unite their will to God as the object of their desire unless he is made known to them! As knowledge increases, love will be nourished.

Turning our minds to thoughts of God by the practice of spiritual reading allows our minds to think of higher things with greater delight and ease. By delving into the mysteries of faith, we more readily think of God, and come to know more about Him.

For Teresa of Avila, a day without a new book is a day lost. Don’t lose a day! Pick up something to read!

The Life of Christ

Many Catholics only think of Jesus through the excerpts of Scripture read in the liturgy. Take the time to read a “biography” of Jesus and meditate more deeply on the mysteries of our Savior’s life.

1. The Lord  by Romano Guardini

2. Life of Christ by Fulton J. Sheen

3. The Greatest Story Ever Told by Fulton Oursler 

4. Jesus of Nazareth series by Pope Benedict XVI:

Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration
Jesus of Nazareth: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection
Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives

Prayer and the Spiritual Life

One of the great temptations in the spiritual life is to become complacent. I’ve done enough for Jesus or I’ve heard all there is to say, we’re tempted to think. These great modern books on prayer and the spiritual life will rouse you from any slumber and spur you on to more dynamic prayer and contemplation.

5. Abandonment to Divine Providence by John Pierre de Caussade

6. This Tremendous Lover by Eugene Boylan

7. Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

8. Time for God by Jacques Phillippe

The Virgin Mary

The Rosary is the heart and soul of devotion for many of us. Our tradition is filled with great works about the Virgin Mary to help make praying the Rosary more fruitful. Delve into either of these fantastic reads.

9. True Devotion by St. Louis Marie de Montfort

10. The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander

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