I teach 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 many of God’s precious souls grow more deeply in their prayer and union with God. These students of the spiritual life have 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 many 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. Navigating the Interior Life is also available in Spanish and is entitled Navegando la Vida Interior. 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. [Editor’s 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.
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!
Art for this post on holy reading program resources: courtesy of Dan Burke and the Avila Institute, all rights reserved, used with permission, copyright Avila Institute.