Summer Books For Spiritual Reading

Buying a book for spiritual and/or cultural reading is one of the best ways to deepen your faith and apostolic drive. As they say: "you can’t give what you don’t have."

Here are some recommendations for reading:

Fire & Light, by Jacques Philippe. ($11.95).   The author’s ninth book, which for the most part focuses on the Eucharist and its importance for living a life of supernatural and human virtue. This book came out in November 2016 and has sold well in the intervening months, making it one of the author’s most popular works. The chapters are short and lively.

New books by the Prelate of Opus Dei, Fernando Ocariz:   God as Father ($9.95) and Love in Action ($11.95), a slightly longer work on living our commitments in terms of real acts of service towards others. Both show the Father’s deep faith and intellectual strength.

“Divine filiation is a joyful truth, a consoling mystery. It fills our spiritual life, showing us how to speak to God, how to know and love our heavenly Father. It makes our interior struggle overflow with hope and gives us the trusting simplicity of little children.” These lines are taken from a meditation given by Saint Josemaría in March of 1952. In this short book, Fr. Ocariz offers “a preliminary attempt” at analyzing and collating the truly impressive theological richness of Saint Escriva’s teaching on divine filiation.

“If we truly want to serve mankind and the world, and thereby fulfill our Lord’s command, we must love God first. For only in this love and through this love will our service to others—love shown in deeds—be able to imitate the incomparable grandeur of Christ’s heart.” These words by Fr. Ocáriz, sum up the wisdom of this assemblage of his thoughts on God’s love for mankind and our love for God—of which we cannot have too much. Indeed, he states, “to sin by having too much charity, or too much faith and hope, is strictly speaking impossible.”

Pentecost is over, but that doesn’t mean we can forget about Holy Spirit for another year. Highly recommended are: Jacques Philippe’s “In the School of the Holy Spirit”; del Valle’s “About the Holy Spirit,” which is the 10 day devotional, and “The Holy Spirit” by Edward Leen, which is replete with doctrinal instruction.

In the School of the Holy Spirit, by retreat master Jacques Philippe, will lead you to be more attentive to the movements of the Holy Spirit in your life as you learn to value the third person of the Trinity as the Sanctifier of your soul. Philippe explains the rewards of being attentive to the Holy Spirit, and provides simple and concrete ways to grow in this inner sensitivity.

First published in Spanish in 1932, this 10-day devotion to the Holy Spirit has attracted many readers to a deeper appreciation and veneration of the Great Unknown. The author was a poor dressmaker who, in spite of her very limited education, testified to an extraordinary understanding of the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit through her habitual and silent practice of heroic virtue.

First published at the outbreak of World War II, The Holy Ghost (renamed The Holy Spirit for this printing) answers the need of many people for a deeper and more accurate knowledge of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit's role in creation as the fountain of life and the first of God's gifts is studied along with the Spirit's mission, divine filiation, and the principles of supernatural growth.

For those looking for a way to deepen and strengthen their spiritual life, summer is a great time to start. The biggest obstacle people have in living a spiritual plan of life is the unwillingness to impose the simple structure of a spiritual workout. So people need to know the "master plan", even if they aren’t able to do all of it. One of the best Scepter books on this topic is “Virtues of Holiness” ($11.95) which covers the full plan of life. Everyone should read this book, especially if you want to explain the concept of the plan of life to others.

Fr. Lorda offers his readers a daily spiritual plan and describes strategies for gaining the virtues needed for following Christ closely. The next steps are familiarity with the life of Christ and developing a deep interior relationship with Him. Although its path is challenging, The Virtues of Holiness leaves no doubt that the struggle to stay close to Christ lies within the reach of every Christian.

For general summer reading, consider the following books:   Christians in Danger $13.95 (about the persecution of Catholics and Christians around the world. For hope in marriage, try 16 Marriages that Made History ($13.95), which are interesting stories of marriages of famous couples who worked and thrived in spite of their weaknesses and failures. Is it possible for a religion like Catholicism, that was practically erased in an entire country (England) to come roaring back four hundred years later? Yes, and the story is told in Supremacy and Survival ($12.95). Finally, there is the adventure story of a man who converted and then traveled through all of Europe and near-Asia, spreading the word of Jesus Christ to the most perverse and despicable groups of people you could ever imagine. He started a 400 year process which ended with the Christian conversion of over 50 million people. It’s all told in Paul of Tarsus (14.95)

Author Marc Fromager offers a personal account of his experience in twenty countries where the future of Christians is anything but certain. He explains the historical and political situation of these Christians and describes the day-to-day tensions they face. With neither anger nor complacency, he leads us to a greater awareness of their sufferings and reminds us that we are still living in “the time of the martyrs”.

This book honors the hidden love adventures of several famous persons in history. It offers concrete examples of marriages that transformed these well-known individuals in deep and personal ways. These are not fairy tales of marriages “made in heaven;” they are stories of real people with real struggles, who, through their marriage, were challenged, strengthened, and encouraged to grow in their capacity for love.

The persecution of Catholics began in 16th century England and tested the Church for over 250 years. Penal laws labeled Catholic believers as traitors and brought fines, imprisonment, and even execution. Prominent persons such as Thomas More, Edmund Campion, and Margaret Clitherow were martyred, while others quietly endured suspicion or harassment to teach and pass on their faith to others, but died peacefully in their beds.

In Paul of Tarsus, Joseph Holzner weaves together the New Testament’s often sketchy information about the life and mission of St. Paul into a unified and inspiring biography. With a novelist’s ability to take you into a scene and a historian’s rigorous concern for accuracy, he traces this noble Apostle’s life from his early years as a disciple of the celebrated rabbi Gamaliel through his zealous persecution of the Church as a Pharisee, through his miraculous conversion, his tireless efforts to spread the Gospel, and his martyr’s death in imperial Rome.

All right. There's a short list of books to enhance your summer. What are you reading this summer?