Dan Burke is an award-winning author, writer, and speaker on Catholic spirituality. He has written and/or edited nine books on faithful Catholic spirituality and is the Executive Director and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register. Dan is the president of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and the creator of Divine Intimacy Radio and SpiritualDirection.com.
The official start of summer is just a month away — are you ready?
I teach a course called “Foundations of Prayer and Union with God” for the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation. In this course I have had the great blessing of watching hundreds of God's good people grow more deeply in their prayer and union with God. During the course a number of the students asked if I could provide a list of spiritual reading that might help them continue in their progress. The graphic and list you see below is what I prepared for them.
I have given an order of priority to the list in terms of what might be most meaningful at each stage of the three-fold path of spiritual growth (purgative, illuminative, unitive). Of course, there are spacial limitations to this approach. Beyond that, there are more books than I could ever fit in! So, I had to compromise and provide a list that will still keep anyone busy for at least a few years.
There are a few more distinctions about the list that might be helpful. The books in red are works that I believe every Catholic should read at one time or another for various reasons.
For instance, Fr. Thomas Dubay's Prayer Primer is a must-read even for those advanced in prayer. Why? Because there is much by way of false teachings on prayer spreading around the Church. This work, coupled with Part Four of the Catechism on prayer, will provide a firm foundation and understanding of the life-changing prayer in the authentic tradition of the Church.
The books in blue are recommended for daily meditation, daily spiritual reading, or lectio divina. The Better Part is by far the best daily meditation book for those who are new or relatively new to a daily practice of meditation because it is completely focused on the person and work of Christ in the gospels. The Better Part provides reflections on every passage of each of the gospels focused on Christ as our teacher, our friend, our Lord and then Christ in our life.
For the soul that has spent at least a year in scriptural meditation on the life of Christ, I strongly recommend Divine Intimacy for additional daily meditation or lectio divina. This work is a treasure of the interior life that will keep you spiritually challenged for decades. It will also expose you to other spiritual masters and mystics along the way.
With respect to a summer reading program, my prayer is that you will just pick up one of these books and launch into an adventure with God that you would not have otherwise known.
By the way, if these reads seem a bit heavy, I might recommend two resources that would be on the fun side. One is on the list: the Screwtape Letters. The other is not: a recent devotional by my friend Teresa Tomeo, Walk Softly and Carry a Great Bag. This book was written for busy women in a style that is pithy and relevant to the daily challenges women face.
If you appreciate these resources, please help us spread the word by sharing it on Facebook and any other way that works best for you.
The best place to first look for these books is at EWTN’s Religious Catalogue. Every purchase there helps the great work of EWTN.
DON’T MISS THIS: Finally, I will be offering a webinar on spiritual reading that will review some of these texts and answer questions from participants on Saturday, May 30 at 10:00 AM Central. Click here to register.
To make things easier for you, here are the links to those books available on EWTN’s Religious Catalogue:
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Prayer Primer by Fr. Thomas Dubay
- Time for God by Fr. Jacques Philippe
- Finding God Through Meditation by St. Peter of Alcantara
- Thirsting for Prayer by Fr. Jacques Philippe
- Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales
- Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin
- Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Liseiux
- Divine Intimacy by St. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen OCD
- Navigating the Interior Life by Dan Burke
- Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
- Fire Within by Fr. Thomas Dubay
- Deep Conversion / Deep Prayer by Fr. Thomas Dubay
- Interior Castle with Workbook by St. Teresa of Avila
- The Dialogue by St. Catherine of Siena
- Collected Works of St. John of the Cross
Here are links to the books that are available on Amazon and not through the EWTN Religious Catalogue:
- Theophilos by Michael O’Brien
- Difficulties in Mental Prayer by Fr. Eugene Boylan
- I Want to See God by Fr. P. Marie-Eugene OCD
- I Am a Daughter of the Church by Fr. P. Marie-Eugene OCD
- The Better Part by Fr. John Bartunek
- Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe
- Hidden Mountain Secret Garden by Anthony Lilles
- The Three Ages of the Interior Life by Fr. Garrigou Lagrange OP
- Impact of God by Fr. Iain Matthew