What are your favorite spiritual reading books?

So many spiritual books have impacted my life. I wish I could start a library. If I could retrieve many of those books and add new ones, I’d consider the following to be at the top of my favorites’ list.

St. Teresa’s autobiography and her “Interior Castle” had a profound effect on my spirituality as a “revert” Catholic after having left the Church during college years.
To read about the ascending rooms in the “Castle” helped me to discover the ever-deepening levels of prayer in the spiritual life. I felt a calling to learn more about mystical prayer and how to attain a higher degree of prayer in my life. I found that we start out with purgation, which generally continues for a long time, to purge us from empty desires and bad habits and dependence on “the creature” instead of the Creator. Following purgation is illumination which takes us to a higher level in the “Castle.” The intellect is enlightened and the will made stronger. The Master takes us yet to a higher level in the “Castle” in which prayer is now no longer strenuous and a duty but is contemplative. That is, the Master, Himself, is doing the work. Very few reach the unitative level in this life, but that is something to strive for.

St. Teresa acknowledged that we don’t necessarity go easily from the bottom rung to the top, but our progress is uneven instead of linear. We may be on one level, such as “the prayer of quiet” and progress rapidly or go back and forth for a long time.

There are many other books I’d like to give space to here, but, rather, I’d like to find out about others’ choices. If this thread goes anywhere, maybe we can have a discussion of the spirituality learned from reading particular books.

Before I comment, I have to say that a moderator will probably move this thread to the Spirituality forum…

Anyway. St. Theresa of Avila is my favorite, but I have yet to read St. John of the Cross. When I was reverting back to Catholicism, things were happening to me that I really didn’t understand. They weren’t bad, they were very good, but since they were spiritual and I didn’t know what spiritual was, I just took them to be normal things that perhaps I never noticed before and was just more in tuned with them because I was coming back to the Church.

Then I happened upon EWTN’s library and downloaded a copy of one of her writings. I don’t know which one, though. It did have to do with the mansions, and when I started reading it, I was amazed! I’d finally found out what was happening to me and I could identify with the first 3 or 4 mansions. Today, however, I’m probably back to the 2nd mansion, admittedly. :frowning: :blush: I recently got the book “Interior Castle” but it doesn’t sound at all like the one I read years ago, so I’m not sure which it was that I read. I’ll have to go back to EWTN’s library and look around.

I’d love to get into John of the Cross to see how similar his experiences and ideas were to Theresa’s, since I’ve heard that the only difference between their views was that St. John thought you could not fall and go back while Theresa did. I tend to agree with Theresa on that one! :o

God Bless,

Most anything by St. Louis de Montfort.

Anything regarding Mary. Anything regarding St. Ignatius Loyola.

Actually, I had started out on the spirituality thread but didn’t see where to start a new post. This is the first time I’ve tried this. Yes, this thread should be in the spirituality section as I had intended.

You mentioned St. John of the Cross. I read “The Dark Night of the Soul” about the same time I was reading St. Teresa of Avila and others. For me too, it was a time of returning to TRUTH, to Our Lord in the Catholic Church. I also experienced some beautiful gifts that I thought were the norm as I was with a charismatic prayer group, which was huge and very strong in the spirit. I was drawn to the Carmelite spirituality and began the effort to become a tertiary. (Couldn’t complete it due to a move).

It was during some trials in my life that I read “The Dark Night. . .” although for St. John of the Cross, the “dark night” referred to a time of “darkness” or “dryness” in prayer. St. John was in prison when he wrote this book. (I think it had to do with some jealous monks, but I’m not absolutely sure about that regarding St. John).

Another book I treasure is “The Imitation of Christ” which is more of a meditation-type book to read on a daily basis. I once read that a recent pope had it next to his bedside when he died. (Maybe it was JPII or even JPI who had such a short reign.

Most of the books I enjoy are the spiritual classics. For modern books on this topic, I would like to mention “The Diary of St. Faustina” (of Divine Mercy fame which is a classic in and of itself) and an interesting book called “He and I” in which the author has locutions as she goes about her daily routine. She has a hesitancy to believe that it is her Lord, but Jesus reassures her. He speaks to her as she walks, works, travels on pilgrimages, as well as in Church. At first the messages are extremely brief, but as her life unfolds, they increase in length and intensity. Jesus wants her attention and loving words and tells her so. What I find amazing is that the messages continue to her death, as Jesus gives her courage to cross over. The last message written is about only two weeks (if I remember clearly) before her death.

I was always partial to Way to Perfection by St. Teresa d’Avila. However, my favorite spiritual reading book by far is the Breviary. Maybe that doesn’t count, but it does give me comfort and encouragement.

Anything by James Martin, S.J. Anything by Thomas Merton (Why dld he have to die when there were so many things left to write about?) Summa Theologica. Confessions of St. Augustus of Hippo. Anything by Pope John XXIII. Any of the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.

Ahhh yes, how could I forget the book that brought me fully back and longing for more! St. Faustina was not a saint yet when I read her biography and diary.

Who was the author of ‘He and I’? That sounds like a good book to read, but, I dare ask, is it approved reading? :confused:

I have also read Thomas Merton, Pope Benedict’s ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, mostly finished with Mother Theresa’s ‘Come Be My Light’, and there’s a book called ‘My Life with the Saints’ by James Martin, SJ that I want to start as soon as I’m done with Mother Theresa’s. I liked St. Therese, and I have a feeling that although I didn’t find it spiritually abundant, I will in the future and it will be very helpful.

I started reading St. Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ but had a very hard time trying to get through the first 20 pages or so, so I stopped. I’ve heard from others that it’s an easy read, but for some reason it’s not for me. :frowning:

Augustine’s Confessions is one of my favorites. I often quote from it. Try again to get through it. It is an amazing story. I also like Faustina’s Diary and Therese’s Story of a Soul.

While not a spiritual classic I loved James Martin’s book My Life with the Saints. I recommend it to all our RCIA folks (in fact I lent mine out and forgot who I lent it to so I need to buy a new copy). I also like Henri Nouwen’s Return of the Prodigal Son, which I have read many times.

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas aKempis is my favorite. It’s a book where every sentence contains something deeply spiritual. The greatest book for meditation.

I don’t read as much as I should, but I wouldn’t consider full-length books (such as an autobiography) as a prayer book - aside from its offering good suggestions.

However, I do get many prayer books from charities in the mail. I’ve found some to be wonderful in content. I like the small booklets that contain favorite prayers / litanies, or prayers I wouldn’t think or know of but am now pleased to learn about. I keep them in my nighttable drawer for handy reference. I have a Fr. Lasance missal that was my deceased Mom’s. (Small print though, and I don’t want to ruin this valuable keepsake.) Suggestions:

  1. My Prayer Book, Fr. Lasance - you want it all? - you got it (if you can find it)
  2. The Pieta Book
  3. **The Way of the Cross **(Passionist Monastery, formerly Union NJ - now moved - check the net) - Ideal during Lent or anytime, it’s an older printing containing traditionally beautiful pictures and prayers for making the Stations - at home or in Church)
  4. Daily Prayers 75th Anniversary Edition (Priests of the Sacred Heart - Sacred Heart Monastery, Wisconsin)
  5. **Our Lady of Fatima’s Peace Plan from Heaven **(TAN books) - Rosary & add’l prayers
  6. **Prayer Our Pathway to God **- Dominican Sisters of Hope, Newburgh, NY
  7. Treasury of Prayers From the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Seton - small and maybe many prayers you know - but some from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

It would be impossible to find one booklet containing all personal favorites. Some are in novena booklets (i.e. St. Anthony), which include add’l prayers to the Sacred Heart and Our Lady. So, I’ve also started a personalized prayer booklet compiled of favorite prayer cards with images I love with their respective novena/prayer on back. You can use photo booklets with slide-in pockets for this. (A great idea for those hospitalized or in nursing homes - just wanting to keep favorite holy images/scapulars near bedside = waterproof and scapulars/medals might be removed). I don’t like to put Our Lord’s, Our Lady’s or a saint’s face downward (i.e. reverse), so I make a copy of the prayer - with the holy image on one side of booklet and prayer on the other (as Chaplet of Divine Mercy, etc.) This way, I can look at the Our Lord’s “Divine Mercy” Image given to St. Faustina - while praying the Chaplet. (Now, if I could only get my prayer regimen on a regular schedule!)

(Anyone want me to start a “personalized” religious prayer book industry? Wish I could put that one into practice.)

I believe Thomas Merton wrote “Seven Story Mountain”? I read something else by him a while back, but I’ll put him on my list of authors to read.

I also read St. Augustine’s “Confessions” and “The City of God.” (There’s another book called “The City of God” which, I think, is by Blessed Mary of Agreda who had visions of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There’s another German nun who had visions of her life too, but maybe someone could help me remember her name. As for “Confessions”, I was surprised to no end to discover that at a secular college, a professor of literature had St. Augustine as required reading. St. Augustine is an especially powerful saint for college students who tend to lose (misplace?) their faith for awhile.

And I have to comment that after posting my reply, I realized I had misread OP’s question - I put in a list of suggested spiritual PRAYER books, instead of spiritual READING! :o So sorry - I just haven’t been on my game past few days. :blush: Guess it’s MY post, which could be redirected but still good suggestions. :thumbsup:
I’m guessing God had a Plan. He doesn’t make mistakes…just me!

I haven’t checked the Index of Forbidden Books, yet, (that was taken off the market some time ago :D), and although there is no imprimatur on the first page (as most spiritual books), the account by Gabrielle Bossis in “He and I” is fresh and appealing. Gabrielle is a good practicing Catholic who was caught by surprise by locutions that lasted for about 14 years culminating in her death. There are actually several volumes gathered into one book. They were the rage in France when they first came out since the author is of French descent. The book starts with a short biographical sketch. Gabrielle refers to the locution at first as the Voice. Quote from the biographical sketch:

“Until the illness that carried her off, Gabrielle’s health ws impeccable. Yet when death came, she welcomed it as she had welcomed life – with the same high-hearted love and joy. ‘My heart is getting weaker every day,’ she wrote on May 9, 1950. ‘I have taken neither food nor liquid for three days. So I shall be leaving soon. Rejoice with me. Magnificat. . . and there will be no more partings.’”

The Voice told her, “This little book will go to the ends of the earth.” Translation after translation is being published all throughout Europe and beyond.

I believe that Sister Josefa Menendez’ autobiography “The Way of Divine Love” was a preparation for the Divine Mercy devotion revealed by Our Lord to St. Faustina. “WDL” was written in the early 20th century. I’m reading it now.

I found that if you lend a book out, don’t expect to get it back. One of the books I lent I think is titled “Hind’s Feet in High Places.” It depicts the lengths our God will go to save each of us. In this book, the Lord is a deer or something of the sort (sorry, it’s been awhile since I’ve read it – I’ll have to get another copy) and we are all goats (I think) being pursued by Love. I can’t begin to explain this creative literary work. It made a great impression on me at the time of how much our God loves us, as if the crucifixion isn’t a reminder, in and of itself, of Divine love!?!

I’ll have to check out Henri Nouwen’s work. I read a short book of his a while back (but I lent it out!)

Other books that are made for “a meditation a day” types are “My Daily Bread,” an old book in a series published by “The Confraternity of Precious Blood.” Another is “My Daily Life” also by the CPB. “Confidence in God” is a small booklet of “words of encouragement” taken from the notes, instructions and letters of Rev. Daniel Considine, S.J.

Besides “The Imitation of Christ” is another book called “The Imitation of Mary” which I read once-upon-a-time. I think it is St. Louis de Montfort who wrote about “Total Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary” (or something close). I tried that a while back but couldn’t get very far. Must give it another try (being a bit more mature). I don’t know what St. Ignatius wrote, if you can provide some info on that.

I, too, have a collection of booklets from missionaries all over the place along with appeals for donations, so I get on more and more lists. You have a great idea for keeping prayer cards, scapulars, etc. . . organized, especially for people in hospitals and nursing homes as you said. To start a “religious prayer book industry”, you might start by putting a few of these books together and bring them to a Catholic book store near you. Also, you could try getting pictures of it out to major companies like Leaflet Missal, Ignatius Press, Tan Books, Roman Catholic books.

Some great responses here.

Just got done with: Seven Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn.

Currently reading: Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis De Sales. It is fantastic.

Top of the stack: *The Imitation of Christ *by Thomas Kemps.

I recently read The Rule of St. Benedict and promptly ordered my own copy. I also have a little prayer book titled **All Day With God **by Blanche Jennings Thompson that’s a small treasure. I love it dearly.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.