A Guide to Spiritual Reading
By Father Thomas G. Morrow, S.T.D.
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.
3. He Came to You so that You Might Come to Him, (St. Anthony of Padua) by Lothar Hardick, Franciscan Herald Press. Good account of this awesome saint.
*4. Solanus Casey: The Official Account of A Virtuous American Life ed. by Michael Crosby, OFM, Crossroad. Fr. Solanus was not permitted to hear confessions (due to poor education), yet spent hundreds of hours counseling & praying with people.
*5. Treasure in Clay, autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen, Doubleday. Fascinating account of this famous, holy priest and bishop, the “TV priest.”
6. Wife, Mother and Mystic by Albert Bessières, S.J., TAN. Extraordinary Story of Bl. Anna-Maria Taigi (1769-1837), who was… a wife, mother and mystic!
7. The Wonder of Guadalupe by Francis Johnston, TAN Books. Story of Our Lady’s apparition to a simple Mexican Indian, & the miraculous gift of her image.
*8. St. Francis of Assisi, by Omer Englebert, Servant Pubs. Excellent book on this humble, strong saint!
*9. Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers. Fascinating! Methodist minister brings miracles by praising God even in apparent disasters, trusting that “All things work out unto good for those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). Christian book stores or 800-772-4731.
10. Purgatory by F. S. Schouppe, S. J. TAN Books. Gives Powerful motives to live a holy life & avoid sin!
*11. Padre Pio, The Wonder-Worker by The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Great book on this stigmatist who died in 1968, beatified in 1999.
12. Eucharistic Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz, TAN. Will deepen your love and reverence for the Eucharist.
**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 www.half.com or www.addall.com. 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.
17. St. Catherine of Siena by F. A. Forbes, TAN. 106 pp. Devout from a young age, Catherine became so holy that popes sought her advice. First woman doctor of the Church. Also, 6 other Sts. titles by Forbes.
18. Saint Edmund Campion: Priest & Martyr by Evelyn Waugh, Sophia Press. Gives insight into the trials of English Catholics during the reformation.
19. Give Me Souls – Life of Don Bosco by Peter Lappin, Don Bosco Pubs (c/o SRM 201-986-0503). Delightful, fun-loving St. who saved thousands of young boys from streets of Turin.
1. The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life, Garrigou-Lagrange, TAN Books. Explains the three levels in spiritual growth. A classic.
2. Soul of the Apostolate, Dom Chautard, TAN. Explains need to build apostolic wks on prayer. Classic.
*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.
5. The Way of the Lamb: The Spirit of Childhood and the End of the Age by John Saward, Ignatius. With quotes from many Christian writers, shows importance of Christ’s “Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
6. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, Various publishers. Short thoughts on spirituality. Classic.
7. The Way, The Furrow, The Forge, by St. Josemaria Escriva, Scepter Books. 20th century counterpart to The Imitation of Christ, by Opus Dei founder.
*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.
13. Saint Margaret Mary, by Leon Cristiani, St Paul. Unusual story of this sister to whom Christ revealed the devotion to His Sacred Heart. Also see St Margaret Mary’s Autobiography, by TAN Books.
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.
17. Mercy My Mission, by Sr. Sophia Michalenko, Servant; & Divine Mercy in My Soul, the Diary of St. Maria Faustina, Marian Press. Origin of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, & the holy nun who received it.
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: HerAutobiography (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.
RECOMMENDED CATHOLIC PERIODICALS
(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. http://www.ncregister.com/
Catholic Faith & Family – P. O. Box 369, Mt. Morris, IL 61054. (800) 421-3230. Weekly, family oriented.
Envoy Magazine – An apologetics magazine by Patrick Madrid. All Scripture – The Big Picture. Step back and see Scripture’s single theme. 800-55-ENVOY; www.envoymagazine.com
*Homiletic and Pastoral Review – Ignatius Press, P. O. Box 591810, San Francisco, CA 94159. (800) 651-1531. For priests, but laity love it. Scholarly & readable. http://www.ignatius.com/HPRSubscription/Default.aspx
This Rock – P. O. Box 17490 – San Diego, CA 92177 – 888-291-8000; www.catholic.com/magazines/thisrock.asp Magazine of Catholic apologetics (defending the faith). Very good.
Our Sunday Visitor – Very Catholic weekly. http://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/tabid/7620/Default.aspx
CATECHISMS, DOCTRINE BOOKS
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!
The Christian Faith, by Neuner & Dupuis, Alba House. Councils, papal statements. Good index.
The Teaching of Christ, by Lawler, et al., OSV. Solid.
The Catholic Catechism, by Hardon, Doubleday.
CATHOLIC TELEVISION ON CABLE
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 www.ewtn.com you can find out about WEWN short wave radio or download Church documents.
WHERE TO GET RELIGIOUS BOOKS & TAPES
In Washington, DC Area:
Daughters of St Paul – 1025 King St, Alexandria, VA. (703) 683-1741. Mail order! Rent videos – $3/two days.
Franciscan Monastery – 1400 Quincy St NE – Washington, DC. (202) 269-5437. Books, rosaries, & more.
The Catholic Shop – 13939 Metrotech Dr., Chantilly, VA 20151 703-222-0096. Wide selection & mail order.
Catholic Information Center – 815 15th St NW. Washington, DC. (202) 783-2062. Run by Opus dei. Great books, leaflets, rosaries, etc.
National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Book Store – 4th & Michigan NE. Washington, DC. (202) 526-1287. Huge selection of great bks, videos, audios, etc.
Mail Order Houses (ask for their lists):
Daughters of St Paul – (800) 836-9723. Solid Catholic books, tapes, videos, etc. www.pauline.org
Sophia Institute Press, P. O. Box 5284, Manchester, NH 03108. (800)-888-9344. www.sophiainstitute.com
TAN Books, P O Box 424 – Rockford, IL 61105 -(800) 437-5876. Great spiritual books. www.tanbooks.com
Scepter Press, P. O. Box 1270, Princeton, NJ 08542. (800) 322-8773. www.scepterpublishers.org
Ignatius Press, P.O. Box 1339, Ft. Collins, CO 80522. (800) 651-1531. Fine authors, books on tape, videos. www.ignatius.com
Christian Book Distributors, P.O. Box 7000, Peabody, MA 01961. (978) 977-5000. Christian books, tapes, Bibles, etc. www.christianbooks.com
St Joseph’s Communications, P.O. Box 720 – W. Covina, CA 91793. (800) 526-2151. www.saintjoe.com
Keep The Faith, 50 So Franklin Tpke. Suite 1, P. O. Box 277, Ramsey, NJ 07446. 201-327-5900. Great selection of tapes, & books on tape, includng Fulton Sheen. www.keepthefaith.org