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Catholic Spiritual Direction

Ever-Deepening Prayer Life: Holy Summer Reading Resources

June 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Books, Dan Burke, Featured, Prayer, Resources

I just finished teaching a course entitled Navigating the Interior Life – Foundations of Prayer and Union with God for the Avila Institute School of Spiritual Formation.

The course has been a joy to teach because I have had the great blessing of watching more than sixty of God’s precious souls grow more deeply in their prayer and union with God. These students of the spiritual life included religious, a hermit, deacons, doctors, attorneys, psychologists, grandmothers, grandfathers, fathers, mothers and more. The other astounding aspect of the experience is that they hail from all corners of the earth including Australia, Canada, Qatar, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

During the course a number of the students asked if I could provide a list of spiritual reading that might help them continue in their progress. The graphic you see below is what I prepared for them. I also prepared a section of links on this site entitled “Resources” where you can find links to most of these titles.

I decided to give an order of priority to the list below in terms of what readings might be most meaningful at each stage of spiritual growth. Of course, there are spacial limitations to this approach as well as the reality that different spiritualities and approaches won’t appeal to everyone. Beyond that, there are more books than I could ever fit in! So, I had to compromise and provide a list that will still keep anyone busy for a few years.

There are a few more distinctions about the list below that might be helpful. The books in red are works that I believe every Catholic should read at one time or another for various reasons. For instance, Fr. Thomas Dubay’s Prayer Primer is a must read even for those advanced in prayer. Why? Because there is much by way of false teachings on prayer spreading around the Church and this work, coupled with Part Four of the Catechism on the topic of prayer, will provide the surest protection by providing the foundational elements to understanding prayer in the authentic tradition of the Church. On a side note, the Catechism on prayer is far from boring. In fact the treatment on prayer is so rich it is worthy material for meditation. With respect to my book, Navigating the Interior Life, being in red, some might think this presumptuous. However, I list it because the content is very important and is drawn from the wisdom of the Church, not the wisdom of Dan.

The books in blue are recommended for daily meditation, spiritual reading, or lectio divina. The Better Part is by far the best daily meditation book for those who are just beginning a daily practice of meditation because it is 100% focused on the person and work of Christ in scripture. The Better Part provides reflections on every passage of each of the gospels focused on Christ as our teacher, our friend, our Lord and then Christ in our life. The Better Part is also available in spanish and is entitled La Mejor Parte.

For the soul that has spent at least a year in scriptural meditation on the life of Christ, I strongly recommend Divine Intimacy. This work is a treasure of the interior life that will keep you spiritually challenged on a daily basis for years to come, and will expose you to other spiritual masters and great mystics along the way. [Editors Note: Dan missed an important work on his slide that he highly recommends - The Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin.]

With respect to a summer reading program, my prayer is that you will just pick up one of these books and launch into an adventure with God that you would have otherwise never known.

Click here to review the titles on our Resources page.

Oh yes, one more thing. If you appreciate these resources, please help us spread the word by sharing it on Facebook and any other way that works best for you. We are grateful for your help!

Reading for An Ever Deepening Prayer Life v2

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the founder of Catholic Spiritual Direction, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and author of the award winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Sr. Dorcee Clarey

    I personally would add Ralph Martin’s Fulfillment of All Desire to the books in red–as well as Fr. Donald Haggerty’s Contemplative Provocations to those up near Matthew’s Impact of God. Thanks for the list, Dan–and for a wonderful class!

    • Dan Burke

      Wow – regarding Ralph’s book, I completely agree. How could I forget!? I added it to the post so folks wouldn’t miss it. It is in the resources section of the site. I will put your recommendation at the top of the comments so that this mistake is corrected! Thanks for the other recommendation and for joining us for the course. It was a real gift to have you and your sisters with us.

  • jobeyjobey

    Dan, is this available in PDF format. This list is wonderful!

  • MaryofSharon

    Thanks so much, Dan! This is perfect timing. I’ve just been given $100 to beef up the library in our perpetual adoration chapel and this will help me establish my priorities.

  • Mary Lee Dooling

    Several years ago, our then, Archbishop J.May recommended “The Cloud of Unknowing” as a Lenten read. I have often seen it listed as a must for all interested in deepening their prayer experience. Thank you for your list.

    • Dan Burke

      Dear Mary – Thanks for your note. I am curious, prior to reading the book, did you spend years in the realm of ascetical practice (rigorous self-discipline in prayer, virtue, and the battle against sin)?

      • Mary Lee Dooling

        Dan, I enjoy sharing book lists and comments with everyone…My personal spiritual life experience not so much.

  • DianeVa

    Thanks Dan once again for the list and for the wonderful course! I enjoyed it immensely and learned SO MUCH! This ministry is a gift from God! I plan on opening up Interior Castle this week!

  • Antony Devassy

    Dear Dan,
    I have a small confusion with regards to the Prayer of St. Augustine to the Holy Spirit. In the sentence “Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy, can be very well said by using “Protect” instead of ‘defend’. Please do the needful.
    In Prayers
    Antony – State of Qatar.

  • Vicki

    Readers, please don’t forget to check out the Spiritual Direction book club! From the list above we’ve read Navigating the Interior Live, The Imitation of Christ and Intro to the Devout Life, as well as several other books to aid in our spiritual growth. Right now we’re reading The Sinner’s Guide by Venerable Louis of Granada. In the future, I’m sure we’ll cover many others on the above list!

  • patricia

    Dan this is amazing and so thoughtfully inspired by the Holy Spirit planned out in helping us little souls fly towards holiness in love and mercy and grace of God. I am so happy and proud of being an Avila student. All Good things in God are magnified through Avila institute and All Praise and Glory belongs to Christ.

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  • Tom Mulcahy

    Thanks for this list. Lists like this are very helpful. One book can make such a difference in a person’s life.

    I would also recommend THE IMITATION OF CHRIST which has been so helpful to many Saints. Saint Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises is also very valuable (even the home-study versions). A very valuable and short work on prayer is Father Grou’s
    HOW TO PRAY extracted from a larger work of this great spiritual writer. One of the best books on docility to the Holy Spirit is IN THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT by Father Jacques Philippe. Father Arintero’s MYSTICAL EVOLUTION
    is of great value. That’s enough!