I love to read, but to be completely honest, I read spiritual works less than any other genre. The book I started for Lent two years ago is still unfinished, as is last year’s title. I don’t know why I can’t stay focused…
Okay, well, maybe it’s some of that, but whatever the reason I knew I needed some help in finding a spiritual book I could stick to this Lent. I asked a bunch of my favorite bloggers to make a recommendation and so many responded, I needed to draft two posts to contain them all. If you’re struggling to find a book to light a fire under your faith, check out this weeks list of spiritual books! Next week, swing back for more recommendations plus you’ll learn which religious books have actually managed to hold my interest.
Offended I didn’t ask your opinion or that your favorite book didn’t make anyone’s list? Next week’s post will also be a link up so you can share your own favorite title with everyone. I’ll keep the link-up live until Lent so you still have time to think about it if you’re not sure. (Find post #2 HERE!)
All the ladies who generously shared their top picks with me were limited to three titles and only a brief paragraph on each. You can link up a 9,000 word behemoth about your favorite 12 volume set if you’d like.And yes this post is just LITTERED with affiliate links. If you hate Amazon, don’t click on anything!!!
My Sisters the Saints — incredibly poignant memoir, that really spoke to me about treating the saints as our friends and confidants. There are some trigger warnings — the book discusses struggles with Alzheimer’s disease (painful for me, as my FIL is in the nursing home with end stage Alzheimer’s) and infertility.
A book of Saints for Catholic Moms —
This book is dog-eared, bookmarked, with notes in the margins — its hands down my favorite resource. You could read this all in one setting, or use it throughout the year, as it covers 52 saints.
Small Steps for Catholic Moms –
This daily devotional is wonderful with short reflections, based on Think, Pray, and Act — with practical ideas for living our faith.
Perelandra by CS Lewis – not Catholic, but oh so close (and my money’s on Clive being fully initiated into the Church by now). This book is a gorgeous allegory on Paradise and a sort of fictional meditation on the temptation of man on another possible world, Perelandra, and how things might have gone had Adam resisted and Eve obeyed. My favorite parts are the descriptions of the pre-Fall innocence and intelligence that man and woman possessed, and the perfect caricature of satan. The first time I read this book, I remember putting it down after turning the last page and feeling for perhaps the first time “I can’t wait to go to Heaven.”
Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn – Cliche? Maybe. But this spiritual memoir about Dr. Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s conversion to Catholicism – and the fascinating hold outs and hang ups they each had to overcome – was really pivotal to my own reversion. I’ve read dozens of his other more intellectual titles since then, but that little blue book with the unabashed Olan Mills family portrait on the back cover spoke to my heart and changed my life.
Fr. Elijah by Michael O’Brien – (again with the fiction. I swear I read non fiction spiritual titles too.) But this book is a profound apocalyptic work which only grows more relevant with each reading. I remember hearing that O’Brien writes the bulk of each of his books in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and you’ll feel that acutely when you encounter his characters and mediate on the timeless truths he weaves into the narrative. I’ve often found myself drawn into prayer while reading his novels, and lying in bed at night revisiting the material. This book’s a must read for every modern Catholic.
My investment in spiritual reading is somewhat embarrassing. I like to blame it on my children as they are young and they are many. But, the core of it is really that I am too distracted. Sometimes it’s a blessing – I can be awfully creative. Other times a curse – I use it as a crutch for why I don’t dig deeper. But, here I am: a 30-year-old shallow spiritual reader. And, here’s that curse again, at least I am doing something, right? So, here are three titles that have some morsels of meat in them. I love them because I can digest them a bit at a time each day:
365 Saints by Koenig-Bricker
My Daily Catholic Bible edited by Paul Thigpen
Small Steps for Catholic Moms by Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss
You might be able to tell I have a thing for structured reading. If I can crack a book and it will tell me how much to read and when, well, that does it for me right there.
I’ve had two books in my life in the last year that have dented my shell of “I only like reading pop psychology & child rearing books.” A former English major & attorney, my range of reading used to include the classics in the Western canon, and, oh yes, criminal reports. But since I started having kids over five years ago, I’ve been in a rut of reading. The classics don’t appeal to me and anything too frightening triggers my mommy bear anxiety so self-help and parenting books it is, thank you very kindly.
However, my husband’s an avid spiritual reader and passed this one over to me years and years back. I finally cracked it in December. St. Louis De Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary.” Talk about power packed and scintillating. I’m on the edge of the bed reading his words and thinking, holy cow I’ve got to talk to my heavenly mother more because his in-depth examination of how we become closer to Christ through His mother is mind-blowing. For Catholics who are lukewarm about Mary, or converts who are hesitant, it’s a must read. Written in the 17th century, sometimes I have to really key up my mind to track with his complex sentence structure and lengthy paragraphs, but it’s worth it. Must read, people. Must read.
I’m reading this edition
from the 80’s.
The second book that has renewed my vigor in pursuing sanctity amidst the diapers of having three kids under five is one from my own childhood my parents had on their bookshelf. “Ten Christians” by Boniface Hanley” offers unusual depth of narrative into the lives of Pierre Toussaint, Damien de Veuster, Frederick Ozanam, Maximilian Kolbe, Mother Terese of Calcutta, Francis of Assisi, John Bosco, Rose Lathrop, Joseph Cardijn, and Therese of Lisieux.
Instead of cracking the encyclopedic tomes of Butler’s Lives of the Saints, this thick and wide paperback provided me with a long and nicely told look at the circumstances of these saints. When you read a lot of picture saints books to your kids, you find yourself wondering, “Yeah, but what was the rest of the story.” Now I know, at least for these ten. I’m really humbled. Like blown away by what they endured and the choices they made. Saints aren’t pansies who were naturally good at being holy anyway. These folks hewed themselves out of the spiritual rock!
It was published in the late 70’s and is like a nickel on Amazon. Find it here
I hope you’re reading something beyond how to organize your kids’ toys. But if you are reading that, please tell me because I want to read it too.
What I absolutely love about The Way written by the Opus Dei founder Saint Josemaria Escriva is that it feels like it is written exactly for me and every single challenge I (and every other Catholic) face in our spiritual journey towards holiness.
He can be completely frank when he says, “Selfish! You . . . always looking out for yourself… And when you are down, you’ll expect others to treat you with the charity you’re unwilling to show them.” or the encouraging spiritual director you always needed, “You are distracted in prayer… Don’t you see how in ordinary life even the most considerate children play with everything around them, and often pay no attention to what their father says? This does not imply a lack of love, or respect: it’s the weakness and littleness proper to a child. Look then: you are a child before God.”. The book is filled with 999 reflections that will surely change your life and guide you closer to the holiness we are all called to be. Especially for those of us seeking that holiness in our ordinary, day-to-day life which is a common theme throughout the book and presented in the 830 reflection: “Don’t be a fool! It’s true that at most you play the part of a small bolt in that great undertaking of Christ’s. But do you know what happen’s when a bolt is not tight enough or when it works itself out of place? Bigger parts also work loose or gears are damaged or broken. The whole work is slowed up. Perhaps the whole machine will be rendered useless. What a big thing it is to be a little bolt!” 999 of these wisdoms! Get and read this book ASAP!
Into Your Hands, Father: Abandoning Ourselves to the God Who Loves Us by Wilfrid Stinissen
I first heard of this book from Leila of Little Catholic Bubble. It was around Advent a year ago, and to be honest, it sounded exceedingly difficult (perhaps even awful) to me. I pretty much knew then that I needed to read it for Lent. I’ve always struggled with the idea of giving myself fully over to God’s will. Who hasn’t, I suppose. But I had a ton of questions. Would I lose myself? How would I know what God’s will actually was? Is that really what God wanted me to be anyway, some mindless robot? Stinissen does an excellent job of bringing up all of my concerns and addressing them in a way that made sense to me. He takes the reader through the three steps of learning to trust in God’s will, which he identifies as accepting God’s will, obeying God’s will, and being God’s instrument. Since reading the book the practice of total abandonment has… well, it’s still really hard. I imagine it’s not ever going to be easy. But the ideas behind it, the why and the how, make a lot more sense. So I keep practicing them, imperfectly, of course. But practice I do, and it has brought about an unexpected peace in my life and in the life of my family.