Why Catholics Should Read
The Interior Life
The interior life is the core of Catholic spirituality. The term "interior life" refers primarily to one's relationship with God - your life of prayer. But it also includes those things that help us to grow in trust, intimacy, commitment and love with God. So the interior life includes
- Self-awareness - unlike many New Age religions, Catholic spirituality does not make self-awareness the end goal of the interior life. But it is part of our quest to become more human and to be intimately united with God.
- Thought Life - the Catholic intellectual tradition is one of seeking truth in all things because all truth comes from God and leads to Him. To think deeply about life, culture, morality, science, philosophy, relationships, and other deep subjects is to appreciate the beauty found in truth.
- Learning the Faith - you cannot love what you do not know. Learning about your faith is a necessary step of growing in intimacy with God. A great sequence for meditative prayer is to learn about God (catechesis) and then bringing what you learn to prayer and asking God to truly reveal Himself to you through it (meditation).
- Prayer - obviously the core of the interior life is prayer. This is where your relationship with God really happens. In true prayer we open our hearts to God's and seek an authentic encounter with him.
While a relationship with God happens by grace, our participation in that relationship requires our effort. God wants a real relationship with us. That means committing ourselves to spending time with Him, focusing on Him, getting to know Him. Growth in our ability to do that is what spirituality is all about.
It's amazing how powerful an ally reading can be in the spiritual life. If you think about it, reading can help you grow in each of the above areas of the interior life.
Father Thomas DuBay teaches the connection between prayer and morality. These are inseparable parts of an active relationship with Christ. Deeper prayer leads to deeper conversion of heart, and deeper conversion of heart (living the moral law more and more completely) leads to deeper prayer (greater intimacy with God).
This is a great resource for anyone beginning a prayer life - or beginning again. It teaches about some common misconceptions about what prayer is and introduces you to true prayer.
I cannot recommend this amazing book highly enough. Father Scheeben delves deeply into what grace is, the new nature grace gives us, and how we should live according to this new nature in order to be united to God in love. This is a complete exposition of grace, written in a style that is perfect for spiritual, meditative reading. Get this book!
Robert de Wohl is one of the best Catholic fiction writers I have found. This is a historical fiction novel about St Benedict, who lived at the end of the Roman empire. Amidst the turmoil of the fall of the Roman Empire, St Benedict’s abbey becomes a sanctuary for everyone at one time or another in the novel - even for some of the corrupt Roman officials. It is not only a place of quiet and isolation, it is a place of order and beauty and most of all faith. But the real victory in the book belongs to Boethius, a Roman Catholic who is able to build an inner sanctuary even in the face of martyrdom.
Father Thomas Williams shows himself to be an excellent teacher as he guides you through a basic understanding of spiritual growth. When you are done reading this book you will not only know the basics of the Catholic spiritual life, but you will have an actionable plan for spiritual growth.
Gospel Truth A Lectionary-Based Catechism for Adults by Kenneth Ogorek - Cross-Referenced to the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults. This is truly an undiscovered treasure. It's especially useful for catechists and pastors - with more than 400 pages of ready material for homilies and lesson plans that are biblical, doctrinal, and relevant. But it's also perfect for personal prayer and learning. I highly recommend this resource for use as part of your daily prayer and Bible study habit.
Hidden Power of Kindness by Lawrence G. Lovasik - The word "kindness" in the title of this book hides the power of this work. Kindness does not mean just being nice. It means being aware of the needs of others, exercising patience in the face of irritations, conquering sinful anger, envy and pride, and walking more completely in love. This handbook for souls is an indispensable companion on the journey of deep conversion.
Feast Days & Holidays by Joan Marie Arbogast - Perfect for ages 5-9, this interactive guide celebrates the liturgical year and special holidays through kid-friendly, easy-to-make crafts, fun activities, delicious recipes, and reproducibles. Requiring minimal materials, these affordable activities are great complements to children learning about the special days throughout the year in perspective of the Catholic faith.
Ordinary Work Extraordinary Grace by Dr. Scott Hahn - In Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace, Scott Hahn, a member of Opus Dei, describes the organization’s founding, its mission, and its profound influence on his life.
Hahn recounts the invaluable part Opus Dei played in his conversion from Evangelical Christianity to Catholicism and explains why its teachings remain at the center of his life. Through stories about his job, his marriage, his role as a parent, and his community activities, Hahn shows how Opus Dei’s spirituality enriches the meaning of daily tasks and transforms ordinary relationships. He offers inspiring insights for reconciling spiritual and material goals, discussing topics ranging from ambition, workaholism, friendship, and sex, to the place of prayer and sacrifice in Christianity today.
© 2008 Jeffrey S. Arrowood