Summer is a time when many of us have fewer responsibilities; it is a great time to seek understanding, companionship, and inspiration in the writings of our fellow Catholics. Our formation in the image of Christ should continue throughout our entire lives, as we allow ourselves to be drawn closer and closer to the Lord in the sacraments of His Church. Listed below are just a very few classics of Catholic writing, selected from various genres and centuries.
The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis, ca. 1420. A devotional and religious classic, this is probably the most widely read Catholic book except the Bible. The text invites us to examine our interior life.
Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales, 1609. This is another classic text, consisting of practical advice on how to grow in devotion to Christ no matter what our station in life. Yes, you too are called to holiness!
Abandonment to Divine Providence, Fr. Jean Pierre de Caussade SJ, ca. 1741. This exposition of our Catholic sacramental imagination calls us to a greater appreciation of the sacredness of every moment, and of the presence of God in all things and of Christ in all people. Also published under the title The Joy of Full Surrender.
Christ, the Life of the Soul, Blessed Columba Marmion OSB, 1925. Abbot Marmion shows us how to die to sin and live for God so that the love of Christ may lead us on the path of true freedom.
The Reed of God, Caryll Houselander, 1944. These meditations on various events in the life of Mary, the Mother of God, show us how Our Lady is, in her full humanity, our model of holiness.
The Seven Storey Mountain, Fr. Thomas Merton OCSO, 1948. In this famous spiritual autobiography, a young man describes his discovery of faith, his conversion to Catholicism, and his decision to become a Trappist monk.
Journal of a Soul, Pope St. John XXIII, 1964. These are the spiritual diaries of the peasant Pope, from his 1895 entry into the major seminary to his 1963 death as the 261st Roman Pontiff.
He Leadeth Me, Fr. Walter J. Ciszek SJ, 1973. Born in Shenandoah and buried in Wernersville, Fr. Ciszek spent decades imprisoned in the Soviet Union for the crime of being a Catholic priest. While surviving many tortures he turned his sufferings over to God, and so was able to find a peace that could never be taken from him, no matter his circumstances.
The Return of the Prodigal Son, Fr. Henri Nouwen, 1992. This is a collection of intimate meditations on pride, reconciliation, family, vulnerability, and the unconditional love and forgiveness of the Father.
Strangers in a Strange Land, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., 2017. Archbishop Chaput offers an insightful and vivid critique of American life today, and offers us a guide to how Catholics can live their faith vigorously in a post-Christian public square.
By Deacon Christopher May, a deacon of the Diocese of Allentown at Holy Rosary in Reading and Sacred Heart in West Reading.