In the first few weeks of each school year, my father would always remind my siblings and I how much he loved the sound of pages turning and pencils scratching as homework was being completed. I am sure that many parents share the same sentiment today! As everyone will be settling into a new school year in the coming days, here are some recommendations for turning the pages of some “spiritual homework…” for everyone!
Vibrant Paradoxes: The Both/And of Catholicism, by Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, 2016). In this book, Bishop Barron gives brief but insightful reflections on various aspects of our Catholic faith which might initially seem opposed to each other, but are, in fact, complementary realities within the depth of the Church’s belief in the Gospel message. He covers topics such as the relationship between reason and faith, freedom and discipline, suffering and joy, among other topics as well. Both thought-provoking and relevant to today’s culture, these reflections could be your morning coffee-reading or part of a group discussion.
Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales. I always recommend this book to anyone looking for some inspiration to go deeper in the spiritual life but does not know where to start. St. Francis de Sales has a charming way of challenging all of us to turn away from sin and more seriously pursue holiness in this life, so that we might obtain eternal life in heaven. His writing style is practical, specific, and easy to read; his many analogies to the natural world (plants, animals, etc.) make this spiritual classic accessible to anyone. However, do not be fooled by the title; there is something in this book for everyone!
Abandonment to Divine Providence, by Fr. Jean Pierre de Caussade (Ignatius Press 2011; originally published in 1921). Fair warning- this spiritual book will likely not be a short read due to the complexity of the topic. However, there is much benefit to be garnered from reading it. In it, Fr. de Caussade highlights various areas of the spiritual life that are necessary for hearing, recognizing, and doing whatever it is that Jesus has planned for us. As the Forward of the book states, “Ultimately, [this book] seeks to teach Christians how to discern God’s ever-active will in their lives, to sense the movements of their own hearts so as to become more amenable to the promptings of the Holy Spirit throughout the day. […] By conforming more to God’s will, Christians become more configured to Christ, and when that happens we take on the mind and heart of Jesus himself.”
Come Be My Light: the private writings of the Saint of Calcutta (Doubleday, 2007). After I mentioned this book in last Sunday’s homily, it would be a shame if I didn’t mention it here. Learn a lot about Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s (Mother Teresa) life in her own words. The editor/author of the book weaves together a number of passages from Saint Teresa’s diary entries/spiritual journaling to present us with an intimate look at her profound spiritual life. Her deep desire to satisfy Christ’s thirst for souls was the motivating force behind all that she did, even when she personally experienced a profound spiritual “dryness.” It is well worth reading Mother Teresa explain these experiences in her own words!
He Leadeth Me, by Fr. Walter J. Ciszek (Image, reprinted in 1995). In this short book, Jesuit Father Walter Ciszek details the true story of his experience of being captured by the Russian army during World War II. Fr. Ciszek spent twenty-three years in a Soviet gulag and recounts how the Lord was with him during the entirety of his detainment. A truly and powerfully moving story, this proves to be a very quick read. In his first book, With God in Russia, Fr. Ciszek gives more details about the events of the twenty-three years, but in He Leadeth Me, he accounts for more of the spiritual side of his experience.
All of these books can be found on Amazon.com or on the publishers’ websites.
P.S.- Just a reminder that, beginning this week, the school Masses will be on Thursdays, and these will be the only Mass offered on Thursdays, with the exception of an occasional funeral.