On the importance of spiritual reading and the lives of the saints.
Handouts are posted below.
Listen online [here] (part 1)!
Listen online [here] (part 2)!
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.
Another classic by this Saint (the Doctor of Moral Theology) is The Great Means of Salvation and Perfection, which is his treatise on prayer.
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.
There is also a set of Advent Reflections by St. Alphonsus which are helpful.
Deserving of special mention are St. Alphonsus’ reflections on the Eucharist, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary – this booklet contains thirty one meditations which are designed to be used during Eucharistic Adoration, either before the Tabernacle or during Exposition. This booklet, and the same Saints Stations of the Cross are a must-have.
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.
Finally, we must mention a few other titles: Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempus, Soul of the Apostolate by Jean-Baptiste Chautard, Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Interior Castle by St Teresa of Avila, and the list could go on and on…
Lives of the Saints
For children, try the Vision Books series published by Ignatius Press. These are chapter books (100 to 300 pages) on over twenty different saints. Suitable for children seven and up, and even enjoyable for high school kids, as well as adults!
Furthermore, the Roman Martyrology has a few lines on the saint of each given day. Get the traditional Martyrology from Preserving Christian Publications.
Also, Modern Saints, which is in at least two volumes by Ann Ball, contains many inspiring five to ten page stories about saints closer to our own day. This book is a great read for fathers to use with their children on Sunday afternoons! Can also be an enjoyable story after dinner!
Certainly, we must mention Butler’s Lives of the Saints which is published in four or five volumes. This is more than most people will need, but contains a brief outline of many thousands of saints, organized by their traditional feast-days (pre-Vatican II).