Monday, November 1, 2010

Recommendations for spiritual reading

A Dominican sister engaged in spiritual reading

November 1st, The Feast of All Saints

Well, not even a full month into my new blog, I am going to break the format. This post is neither a sermon nor about Sunday. Rather, I have decided to post a small sample of books for some suggested spiritual reading. I gave this list to the parishioners this morning with a few words of encouragement:

“We are given the great blessing of a friendship and communion with the saints, but we need this to be more than just a theoretical fellowship. As human beings, we need some tangible reminders of this communion – and what better way than through prayer?
We can do more than simply pray to the saints (though that is already nine tenths of the work), we can also pray with the saints. We can pray after the model of the saints, taking them as safe and reliable guides in the spiritual life. Rather than running off to any number of silly ‘self-help’ books on spirituality, we ought to give pride of place to the spiritual writings of the saints.”

Below is a very simple and small list of recommended spiritual reading from the writings of the saints. Particular mention must be given to Sts. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila (who are Doctors of the Church particularly for their spiritual insights) and also to St. Alphonsus Liguori (who is recognized by the Church for his writings about prayer).

Some recommendations for spiritual reading, from Fr. Ryan

If you want a good introduction to the spiritual life in general, consider: Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales…
St. Francis becomes your personal spiritual director as you read this treasure. Though it is called an introduction, this spiritual classic will be helpful to people in all levels of the spiritual life.  300 pages.

If you are looking for a child-like spirituality, consider: Story of a Soul, by St. Thérèse of Lisieux…
In her autobiography, Story of a Soul, St. Thérèse tells us of the experience of her youth and her entrance into the convent. We are given a very personal insight into the spiritual life of this young girl, whom Pope St. Pius X has called the greatest saint of modern times.

If you want a book that can be read in 10 minute segments in the midst of a busy life, consider: The Way, Furrow, and The Forge by St. Josemaría Escriva…
The founder of Opus Dei offers a spirituality most especially suited to the life of working people. He understands how busy modern life can be and he will help you to live out your vocation as a lay person, active in the world.
“The Way, Furrow, The Forge” is available in a single volume edition from Scepter Publishers.

If you want to learn how to speak with God throughout the day, consider: How to Converse Continually and Familiarly with God, by St. Alphonsus Liguori…
In approximately 50 pages, St. Alphonsus teaches you how to “pray always”. This book can be read many times – it is a practical guide for growing in holiness while going about the activities of daily life.

If you want a book that can help you to pray the Rosary better, consider: The Secret of the Rosary, by St. Louis Marie DeMontfort…
St. Louis Marie DeMontfort is widely recognized as the Church’s greatest promoter of Marian devotion. He will help you to understand who Mary is in the life of the Church and who she wants to be in the life of your soul. The Secret of the Rosary and Secret of Mary are very short works of around 100 pages each.
Also, consider: The Secret of Mary and True Devotion to Mary, by St. Louis Marie DeMontfort.

If you want help with making daily meditations, consider: The Way of Salvation and Perfection, by St. Alphonsus Liguori…
St. Alphonsus offers meditations for every day of the year. He guides you into the depths of the spiritual life and will bring you to a closer union with our Savior. This book is meant to be used as a step by step guide-book during times of prayer.

If you like poetry, consider: A Spiritual Canticle and other poems, by St. John of the Cross…
The poetry of St. John of the Cross is the fruit of his mystical union with God. The poems themselves are relatively easy to read, and they are not very long. The Saint offers a more systematic explanation of the spiritual life in Ascent of Mount Carmel and Dark Night of the Soul.
“The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross” is published by ICS Publications.