A Catholic spiritual reading list: suggestions to help you find good Catholic spiritual reading books.
Catholic Spiritual Reading Book Recommendations
Have you ever struggled with learning something new? You may have tried to learn on your own for a while: tried and failed, tried again, tried and succeeded, yet not made as much progress as you wanted to make. Finally, you asked someone for help, got a book on the topic, or looked up a video online to find out more. With this help, you figured out what you needed to know and you were able to accomplish what you set out to do. Success!
Is spiritual growth one of these areas for you in your life right now? Do you yearn to grow closer to God, to learn more about your beautiful faith, yet are not sure where to turn or who to study to learn more? In an age where we are so blessed to have so much information, it can be daunting to wade through that information to find the gems that we are looking for.
Did you just stop looking? If so, don’t be afraid to try again. There are many benefits of spiritual reading to help us grow in our Catholic faith. It is worth the effort to find good books to read so we can learn more about and grow in our Catholic faith!
Get started with spiritual reading.
Okay. Spiritual reading sounds great, but where do you start? Here are some categories of books for you to consider and specific recommendations.
You can begin at the beginning with the Bible. The Gospels are a great place to start reading since this is where Jesus shares His mission and where we learn about His life and purpose on earth. Take your time as you read. Let God’s Word really sink into your heart. Contemplate His words and ask Him to reveal to you what He wants for you to know and understand as you read and meditate on the scriptures.
See Create A Simple Catholic Bible Reading Plan for more ideas.
You may want to try reading in the style of Lectio Divina, which means divine reading. This post about Lectio Divina gives you the details about this way of reading the Bible. Go here to find a Prayer Before Reading the Bible.
Books by saints
In addition to writing the books Bible, the saints of the Church have been writing for over 1,700 years. 1,700 years! That is so incredible. We have a rich history we are blessed to be able to draw from to learn more about our faith and our Church.
To name just a few: St. Jerome wrote about our faith in the 300-400’s; some of his writings are in print today. From the same time period, St. Augustine wrote his Confessions about his life and conversion. St. Francis de Sales (who lived from 1567-1622) wrote Finding God’s Will for You and Introduction to the Devout Life. St. John of the Cross’s (1542-1597) works and letters have been put into one collected work. We have books by Pope St. John Paul II, Pope St. John XXIII, and encyclicals written by many popes.
The list goes on and on. These few saints mentioned here are not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a Catholic spiritual reading list. Ask friends or your parish priest what their favorite books are or look up your favorite saints to see if they have any written works that are in print.
Autobiographies and biographies of saints
It is interesting to note that there are many autobiographies of saints. Some of them are in existence simply because these saints were asked (or told) by their religious superiors to write them. That is why St. Terese of Lisieux wrote her autobiography The Story of a Soul and why St. Teresa of Avila wrote her autobiography: The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila. The autobiography Confessions by St. Augustine of Hippo was written over 1500 years ago; we can still read it today. St. Ignatius Loyola also wrote an autobiography covering part of his life.
Autobiographies and biographies of saints are a great way to learn about the lives of the saints. Sometimes saints are seen as perfect, always holy and destined for Heaven. In reading their autobiographies, we learn that this was not always the case! We learn about their faults, struggles and questions, their doubts and mistakes, too, as well as their joys and triumphs. Most importantly, we see their example of picking themselves up again and again and again each time they stumble. We see their devotion to God and their love for Him. We see in their lives ways that we can improve in ours.
Biographies of the saints are more common than autobiographies. Loyola Press and Ignatius Press have many biographies of saints. Many of the saints’ biographies (the Vision books) by Ignatius Press are geared to kids, but readers of any age can enjoy and learn from them.
You can read about martyrs like St. Cecilia (her husband and brother-in-law, too), St. Joan of Arc, St. Edmund Campion, and St. Isaac Jogues. You can read about our Popes, like St. Peter, St. Leo I, Pius X, and John Paul II. There are famous saints (like St. Paul and St. Francis of Assisi) and lesser know saints (like St. Margaret of Antioch and St. Denis) to find out more about. There are also young saints (St.Tarcisius), older saints (St. Simon Stock), single saints (St. Catherine of Siena), and married saints (St.s Luis and Zelie Martin-parents of Therese of Lisieux), kings (St. Wenceslaus), queens (St. Margaret of Scotland), nuns (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton), and priests (St. Nicholas).
No matter who your favorite saint is or which saint you have always wanted to learn more about, there is probably a book that has been written about him or her. Seek it out and you shall likely find it.
In addition to the saints, there are people who have been declared Blessed that you can read about, too. Just to name a few: Imelda Lambertini, Fr. Miguel Pro, and Pier Giorgio Frassati.
Books about our faith and books to help us grow in our faith
Oh boy! A whole nother category!
Scott Hahn is the first writer that comes to mind. He converted to Catholicism from his Protestant roots after much study and prayer. He is an amazing writer and has the ability to make something that may seem complicated simple and easy to understand. (Just think the book of Revelation!) He has written Bible studies, books about the Mass, the Creed, the Last Supper, Mary, the sacraments, prayer, and much more. He and his wife Kimberly also wrote about their conversions in Rome Sweet Home.
Fr. Michael E. Gaitley has written many books to help us learn more about and grow in our faith. Three of his many books are: The Divine Mercy Image Explained (which explains the image of the Divine Mercy and talks about St. Faustina-the one to whom Christ gave this image), 33 Days to Morning Glory (a retreat you can do at home to prepare yourself for Marian consecration), and Consoling the Heart of Jesus (a self-paced retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius). Fr. Gaitley writes about our faith and about how to grow spiritually in our lives.
Books about Catholic devotions and prayer
Books about Catholic devotions can include books about the Rosary, prayers, scapulars, the Mass, Eucharistic adoration, and the Sacraments, just to name a few.
St. Louis-Marie de Montfort wrote a beautiful book called The Secret of the Rosary wherein he talks about the history of the Rosary, miracles associated with the Rosary, the benefits of praying it, and how to pray it.
Mothers‘ Manual: A Manual of Devotions for Mothers and Expectant Mothers and Fathers’ Manual, both by A. Francis Coomes, S.J.A. are wonderful prayer books with prayers on many different topics related to motherhood and fatherhood.
The Rosary Gift Guide is filled will resources for all ages specifically about the Rosary.
Books on apologetics
Apologetics means defending the teachings of our faith. Books in this vein not only teach us about our Catholic faith but do so in a way that explains why the doctrines are sound and how they came to be. In this way, we get a more full understanding of the teachings of our Church and come to understand our faith even better.
Patrick Madrid compiled many stories of conversions to the Catholic faith in his Surprised by Truth series. Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating, and Handbook of Catholic Apologetics: Reasoned Answers to Questions of Faith by
Scott Hahn (mentioned above) is another great resource. These authors are just a few apologists who have written about the Catholic faith. Be careful when searching out books on apologetics; make sure they are written by people who know what they are talking about who are well-studied in our faith!
Catholic spiritual reading publishing resources
In addition to Loyola Press and Ignatius Press mentioned above, Ave Maria Press, Pauline Books and Media, Sophia Institute Press, St. Benedict Press / TAN Books, Emmaus Road Publishing, and Franciscan Media & Servant Books are just a few more Catholic publishers you may want to check out in your search for your next spiritual book to read.
But–before you buy a book, look into your local library system. I have been pleasantly surprised by the quantity of good Catholic books our library system has. If your local library does not have a specific book and another library branch in the library system does, they may be able to send it to your local library for you for free or for a small fee.
What are some of your favorite Catholic spiritual reading books?
Please share in the comments so we can learn from each other and help each other to grow in faith.