One of the main ways I have grown over the years spiritually, is by reading. I am always asking people for a good recommendation. On this page we would like to offer some suggested reading. Each suggestion comes with a little description and who on our staff recommended it.
Opening to God, by Thomas Green
The three books by Thomas Green are enough to guide one’s prayer for their entire life! This book is the introduction, and describes ways to pray “in the beginnings”. This includes a beautiful overview of how we grow in love with Jesus through prayer, as a married couple grows in love throughout the entire life of their marriage. Fr. Paul
When the Well Runs Dry, by Thomas Green
This book is about prayer “Beyond the Beginnings.” The title is a metaphor from St. Teresa of Avila. It refers to the experience many regular prayers have when after a while, prayer and the spiritual life seem to become dry. In fact, one reason why I love these three books by Thomas Green is because they largely explain the teachings of two of our great Doctors of the Church on prayer and the spiritual life, St. Teresa, and St. John of the Cross. Fr. Paul
Drinking from a Dry Well, by Thomas Green
This book is a sequel to When the Well Runs Dry, which referred to a time when a prayer begins to experience dryness in regular prayer. This book talks more about embracing the dryness, why that helps us grow, and refers to a stage when prayer seems to have become dry for many years now. This book also goes much more into explaining the teachings of St. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. – Fr. Paul
The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas Kempis
This book is one of the most popular spiritual books outside of the bible. It is a classic that is about 500 years old. It is a series of short meditations. Good to keep by your bed and read one a night. Fr. Paul
The Cloud of Unknowing, by an unknown author (seems fitting doesn’t it)
This is a book the Thomas Merton read over and over. It is actually a simple and beautiful way of describing a method of contemplative prayer. Imagine you are praying below a cloud of unknowing, and above a cloud of forgetting. Allow you attention to be focused on the cloud above, and let distractions fall into the cloud below. Fr. Paul
My Daily Bread, Fr. Anthony J Paone, available through TAN Books.
This is a book similar in format to the Imitation of Christ. It is one of the first spiritual books I ever read, given to me by my Father when I was in high school. Still a good book for young disciples. Fr. Paul
The Holy Longing, by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser.
Of course Ronald Rolheiser is a very popular Catholic columnist and author with many books, all good. But this one really caught me. The first half of it was only ok. But if you hang in their, the last half is VERY Powerful. Fr. Paul
Abandonment to Divine Providence, by Jean-Pierre de Caussad and Translated by John Beevers.
I have not finished reading this. It was highly recommended by several people from my last parish. It indeed is really good, just the little that I have read. It makes holiness seem childlike simple. But it is important to get this translation by John Beevers. There are many translations, some not so easy to understand as this is. Fr. Paul
The Case for Jesus, by Brant Pitre
Brant Pietre is an amazing and relatively new Catholic Scripture scholar, who’s specialty is understanding first century Judaism. This knowledge allows us to much more deeply understand many of the images and teachings of Christ. His work helps us see how the contemporaries of Jesus heard Him. This book responds to some of the common objections to Christianity that you hear today; e.g. the Gospels are not reliable because they’ve been handed down and changed as they were handed down. Or, in the Gospels, Jesus never claims He is God, Christians just make that up. A great book to read as we try to evangelize the modern culture. Fr. Paul
The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, by Brant Pitre
Do you think you understand the Eucharist? Well I’m willing to bet you haven’t heard many of the things you will read in this book. Brant Pietre explains how those in the times of Jesus would have understood what Jesus teaches about this sacrament that is the source and summit of our faith. Fr. Paul
Jesus the Bridegroom: the Greatest Love Story Ever Told, by Brant Pitre
This is my favorite way of referring to Jesus. Our relationship with Jesus is one of love. Marriage is patterned on our relationship with Jesus. Is that theology that the Church comes up with? No, it is a central teaching of Jesus and is found not only in St. Paul, but mostly in the Gospels. Fr. Paul
Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary, by Brant Pitre
We Catholics honor Mary as Queen of Heaven, New Eva, The New Ark of the Covenant, the greatest intercessor, and more, but we do not know the scriptuarl basis for our beliefs about Mary’s role in salvation. This book looks at the Old Testament Types (foreshadowing) of Mary Mother of God. Fr. Paul
Stunned by Scripture, by Dr. John S. Bergsma Ph. D.
You will probably agree, that we Catholics do not know our scripture well enough. But what is really remarkable, is that many of the beliefs that non-Catholic Christians disagree with the most, are actually scriptural! For Christians who claim that Scripture is the only authority, well we can use that to show why the Catholic Church teaches what many sola-scripture Christians say Catholics made up. Fr. Paul
Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, a series on each book of the New Testament by various Catholic authors.
I’ve only read three of them now, but they are excellent. Fr. Paul
Bible Basics for Catholics, by John Bergsma
Very introductory overview of whole bible Old Testament and New. (150 pgs.)
Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible, by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins.
Excellent and rather detailed explanation of all of scripture Old Testament and New. (304 pages.)
The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth, by Scott Hahn
Scott Hahn, a convert to Catholicism shares how he came to recognize the key to the understanding of the book of Revelation is the Mass. I.e. what we see in the book of Revelation is the Heavenly Liturgy, in which we participate whenever we celebrate the Mass on Earth.
7 Secrets of the Eucharist, by Vinny Flynn
The Eucharist is so much richer than we can possibly understand. However, most of us can understand much more. In this very easy to read book, the author shares seven aspects of the Eucharist that have allowed him to grow in deeper appreciation for the Eucharist and the Mass.
Desire of the Everlasting Hills, by Thomas Cahill
The life of Jesus from a historian. How did Jesus become the central figure in Western Civilization? Did he change the world for the better? It has been awhile since I’ve read this book, but I recall I sure enjoyed it, and was inspired by it. Fr. Paul
St. Francis of Assisi: A Biography, by Omer Englebert
I would guess there are more biographies of St. Francis than any other person in the history of humanity. Which should you read? Well this is the one I recommend. I like it because it is indeed in the modern style of a biography. It is good at chronologically laying out his life and presenting the facts. However it does help you understand the spirituality of the saint also. Fr. Paul
Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio, by Diane Allen
Padre Pio is a contemporary saint, having died in the 1960’s. During WWII many member of the United States Military were stationed in Italy, many sought out Padre Pio to visit him. Diane Allen made it a project to go throughout the United States and interview people who met Padre Pio, and recorded their experiences. They include fun stories, and profound miracles. (This is now a two volume set.) Fr. Paul
Our Lady of Kibeho, by Immaculee Ilibagiza
I love this book. Immaculle is a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide. She was a Tutsi who were hunted by the Hutu. She lived 90 days in a 3 ft by 4 ft bathroom with seven other women to escape death. The whole time, she prayed the Rosary, and learned English, because she new Mary would save her, and then she would have to tell the world. Read her first book, Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza. In this book however, she says “I am glad my first book was so popular, now I can write the book I really have wanted to write.” This book is about the appearance of Mary in Rwanda (approved by the church) before the Genocide. Fr. Paul
The Teaching of Christ, edited by Donald W. Wuerl, Ronald Lawler OFM Cap., Thomas Comerford Lawler, 5th edition
The 5th edition is the latest, but earlier editions will save you much money! Attempts to explain teachings in more detail the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Catechism of the Catholic Church , by Catholic Church
This is of course the official document of the church. Other Catechisms attempt to explain the teachings, this Catechism mostly just states the teachings.
United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Is the Catechism of the Catholic Church restructured and supplemented for Small group instruction.
Love Unveiled: The Catholic Faith Explained, by Edward Sri
Available for free download if you sign up for our Formed.org video, audio and book service on this website.