Can you believe we are halfway through our Lenten Spiritual Journey? It serves as a great checkpoint, and opportunity to provide some inspiration.
My 40/40/40 Prayer Pact has been a more intense experience this second time around. Within the first few days, there was a feeling of a mounting Spiritual Battle, and an ensuing attack. Then, one friend that had signed up asked me to pray for an extremely ill family member. Five days after the day that I prayed for this intention, that family member passed away — may perpetual light shine upon her. This all reinforced the need for daily prayer and spiritual nourishment.
In order to allow the Lord to guide us through the ups and downs of our daily walk, it’s vital to find ways to truly nourish ourselves spiritually. One easy and effective way to advance in our spiritual journey is through reading. The Bible is the ultimate book – obviously it’s our Spiritual Superfood. Reading other books should supplement and compliment your Scripture reading, not replace it.
I have shelves of spiritual books, even ones from back in the day studying Theology at Franciscan University, but I have some staples. I do have books on my shelf that I’ve been wanting to read that may be rivals for some on my list, (to name a couple: “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” by Fr. Mike Gaitley – an old college friend; and “Be Healed” by Dr. Bob Schuchts – a Catholic Therapist that led the Healing retreat that I went on in 2014). While I could pontificate on the many spiritual books I love, the five below are my tried and true list.
NOTE: I’ve linked the books to Goodreads so you can learn more about them. Incidentally, all of these books have over 4.5-star ratings there. I always recommend that you support your local Catholic bookstores first if you want to buy any of them – shop small whenever possible!
- I Believe In Love by Jean C.J. d’Elbée, “is a guide to happiness based on the teaching of one who found it entirely: St Thérèse of Lisieux.” I’ve had this book since I was in college, and by the looks of my copy, it shows. It is like taking a personal retreat about the interior life based on the childlike spirituality of St. Thérèse – probably because it’s derived from the retreats of the Priest that’s the author. There are powerful insights – such as on humble confidence and total abandonment to Christ – in this beautiful book.
- The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. A classic, this book is almost a manual for spiritual development. The meditations by this 15th c. Augustinian monk on the spiritual life have inspired many through the years, including great Saints and Popes. “No book has more explicitly and movingly described the Christian ideal.”
- Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Jacques Philippe. An old Priest friend of mine recommended this book to me, and I can’t hold onto it because I keep giving my copies away – it’s THAT good. A small book, it’s one you could easily finish before Easter. But it has profound spiritual wisdom that really helped me: I can now see how the Enemy attacks with the aim of disturbing my peace as an entry point. Everyone craves peace – this book will help you in the spiritual practice of maintaining peace in your heart.
- Abide: Keeping Vigil With the Word of God by Macrina Wiederkehr. Recommended to me in Spiritual Direction, the book leads you through how “to make the Word of God your home through the practice of lectio divina.” It is about going deeper into the Word, meditating, and thus going deeper into your relationship with Christ. It’s full of meditations, reflections, and prayers around numerous scripture passages. If you want to learn to pray the Scriptures, this is the book to help you.
- The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J.M. Nouwen. If you’ve never read Henri Nouwen before, you need to change that. This book, his “secret journal”, was written during the most difficult time in his life. He published it at the urging of friends, as it felt it was too raw and private. But his vulnerability, sharing “the fierce inner battle that lies underneath so many of [his] spiritual insights”, provides consolation. If you’ve suffered through any type of anguish and despair, you will find solace in the pages of this book.
What books would you recommend as guidebooks along our spiritual journey? Add them in the com box!