Last fall, I wrote a post about the common Catholic dilemma of finding a book that helps you grow spiritually, but doesn’t take months, or even years to finish. While C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton are stuffed to the brim with goodness, their writing style often requires a lot of intention and focus while reading. Often when I sit down to read, I’m looking for something that’s easier to get through.
It’s still early in 2018 and so many people have made the resolution to read more and/or to make their spiritual growth more of a priority. Here are three books that may help you in these endeavors; they were easy to read, uplifting, and made a lasting impression on my spiritual life.
Spiritual Freedom: God’s Life-Changing Gift, by Fr. Dave Pivonka
I do not say this lightly…
This book changed my life.
Ridden with deep Catholic Guilt that had manifested itself as scrupulosity, this book was one of the first sources of relief I found. I learned a lot about a God that I had never fully known… one who did not want me to live my life in a cage. As a young girl, I remember laying in my bed every night before bed and just feeling pure joy over the fact that I was “me.” The earliest years of my transition into adulthood pretty much killed that feeling. I was ashamed, doubtful, guilt-ridden, weak, self-condemning, and worst of all — afraid of God. The insights of Fr. Dave Pivonka (who has worked as a spiritual director for over a decade) were like power tools that cut through the spiritual chains I had used to lock myself up. Thanks to this book, I started my path towards healing, and I am a much closer version of that joyful little girl who always fell asleep happy.
The Perfect Joy of St. Francis, by Felix Timmermans
St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most popular Catholic Saints. Even many non-Catholics hold St. Francis in high esteem. Growing up as a cradle-Catholic, I learned a lot about this humble friar. I had a cartoon movie about him and he was in many of my saints books. He was definitely one of my favorites, and I think he might have a soft spot for me as well seeing as I ended up attending Franciscan University for my undergraduate degree. I’ve even been blessed in that I’ve been able to take two trips to Assisi during my life, once in 2005 and then again while I was studying abroad in 2009. Spending time in his hometown, visiting his place of baptism, hiking the mountainous trail to his hermitage, praying in the Portiuncula (that little chapel in the woods) that he rebuilt himself… I felt like these things helped me to learn more about him than anything I had ever read. Then I had this book as assigned reading for one of my evangelization classes the following year. It was truly one of the greatest biographies I have ever read– and certainly the best one I have ever read about St. Francis of Assisi! Timmermans skillfully wrote this biography in the format novel, making it completely engaging and easy to read. If you haven’t read this book and you’re a fan of Francis, I highly recommend you add this book to your wishlist!
An Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales
The author of this book was a bishop, amazing confessor, and after his death and canonization, was declared a Doctor of the Church. This book is a collection of letters he wrote to “Philothea,” the one who loves God. It was meant to serve as spiritual direction for anyone who was looking to grow in their faith. Think of this as a Catholic version of a self-help book on living a life that is completely and totally devoted devoted to God. Not only are his insights golden, he also gives you practical ways that anyone can act on them. There were times when I would sit to read a chapter and be moved to tears simply by the beautiful and eloquent ways this bishop described matters of the faith.
If you find yourself in a spiritual rut that you are fighting hard to get out of, this book may be for you! I don’t think you can read this book without growing in holiness… even if it’s just a little bit.
Is there a book that changed your life? I’d love to read it! Comment below!