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A Guide to Spiritual Reading for Adults

4/16 by Rev T. G. Morrow

The (slow) reading of Sacred Scripture takes precedence over all the following. I recommend one chapter or less per day of The Jerusalem Bible, the long version with footnotes.
The lives of the saints bear a particular relationship to Scripture. St Francis de Sales wrote, "There is no more difference between the Gospel written and the life of a saint than between music written and music sung."
The books in the first section are recommended for those who are new to spiritual reading. They were chosen for their interest and readability. More advanced spirituality, books more difficult to read, are found in the "intermediate," and "advanced" lists.
Spiritual reading should be done a little at a time, from five to fifteen minutes a day, but every day without fail, barring some crisis. It should be second in priority only to prayer. It is done for formation, not for entertainment, and thus doing only a small amount daily will keep the more interesting material from being read too quickly–and not retained–and the less interesting from being too painful. Note well: spiritual reading is very different from theological reading.
*1. Our Lady of Fatima, by Wm. Thomas Walsh, Image Books, & The Sun Danced at Fatima, by Fr. Joseph Pelletier, A. A. Two of the most fascinating book ever written about these apparitions of Mary in 1917 to three small children (2 beatified) in Portugal.
*2. The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St Thérèse of Lisieux, Institute of Carmelite Studies. A classic. Different translation avail. from TAN. And, The Story of A Family: The Home of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by Fr. Piat, OFM. TAN. Gives great insight into the holy lives of each member of this remarkable family. Several family members are up for canonization, including the parents. 3. St. Anthony of Padua by Leopold de Chérancé. best book on St. Anthony. Out of print (available at Also free ebook on St. Anthony by Dirks at
4. A Tuscan Penitent: The Life And Legend Of St. Margaret of Cortona by Father Cuthbert Hess. Exc. acct of a beautiful, reformed sinner. Tau Cross Bks+
5. Be Holy: Catholic Guide to The Spiritual Life, by Fr. Morrow (author of this list). Servant Books.
6. Who’s Who in Heaven, by Fr. T. Morrow (author of this list) 11 great saints to read or give to children.
*7. Solanus Casey: The Official Account of A Virtuous American Life ed. by Michael Crosby, OFM, Crossroad. Fr. Solanus was not permitted to hear confessions (due to poor education), yet spent hundreds of hours counseling & praying with people.
*8. Treasure in Clay, autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen, Doubleday. Fascinating account of this famous, holy priest and bishop, the "TV priest."
9. Wife, Mother and Mystic by Albert Bessières, S.J., TAN. Extraordinary Story of Bl. Anna-Maria Taigi was... a wife, mother & mystic!
10. The Wonder of Guadalupe by Francis Johnston, TAN Books. Story of Maary’s apparition to a simple Mexican Indian, & the miraculous gift of her image.
*11. St. Francis of Assisi, by Omer Englebert, Servant. Excellent book on this humble, strong saint!
*12. Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers. Methodist minister brings miracles by praising God even in apparent disasters, trusting that "All things work out unto good for those who love God." At Amazon.
13. Purgatory by F. S. Schouppe, S. J. TAN Books. Gives Powerful motives to live a holy life & avoid sin!
*14. Padre Pio, The Wonder-Worker by The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Great book on this stigmatist who died in 1968, beatified 6/16/02.
15. Eucharistic Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz, TAN. Will deepen your love & reverence for the Eucharist.
**16. The Curé d'Ars by Francis Trochu, TAN. Best account of this delightful, humble priest. 600 pp.
**17. St. Teresa of Avila, A Biography, by Marcelle Auclair, Fordham U. Press. Perhaps the best book ever written on St. Teresa in English. Also *St. Teresa of Avila, by Wm. Thomas Walsh, TAN Bks.
*18. Bernadette Speaks: In Her Own Words by Fr. René Laurentin, Daughters of St. Paul. Great account of this girl to whom Mary appeared at Lourdes in 1858.
*19. The Death Camp Proved Him Real: The Life of Father Maximilian Kolbe by Maria Winowska, Franciscan Marytown Press. Gripping story of a Marian priest who died for another in Nazi prison camp.
20. St. Catherine of Siena by Raymond of Capua, TAN. Devout from a young age, Catherine became so holy that popes sought her advice. First woman Dr. of the Church. Also, bio by F. A. Forbes, TAN. 106 pp.
21. Give Me Souls - Life of Don Bosco by Peter Lappin, Don Bosco Pubs (c/o SRM 201-986-0503). Delightful, fun-loving St. who saved thousands of young boys from streets of Turin.
1. The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life, Garrigou-Lagrange, TAN Books. A classic.
2. Soul of the Apostolate, Dom Chautard, TAN. Explains need to build apostolic wks on prayer. Classic.
*3. Introduction to the Devout Life, St Francis de Sales, TAN Books. THE book on lay spirituality.
4. Saint Maker: The Remarkable Life of St. Francis de Sales by Michael de la Bedoyere, Sophia Press. Fine account of this great spiritual director.
5. The Way of the Lamb: The Spirit of Childhood and the End of the Age by John Saward, Ignatius. With quotes from many Christian writers, shows importance of Christ’s “Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
6. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, Various publishers. Short thoughts on spirituality. Classic.
7. The Way, The Furrow, The Forge, by St. Josemaria Escriva, Scepter Books. 20th century counterpart to The Imitation of Christ, by Opus Dei founder.
*8. Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena, Paulist Press, Trans. by Suzanne Noffke, OP, Classics of Western Spirituality. Private revelations of God the Father to Catherine of Siena, the great doctor of the Church.
*9. The Life of Christ, F. J. Sheen, Image. Insightful explanation of all the major passages of the gospels.
10. By C. S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters, Simon & Schuster; The Four Loves, Harvest Bks; Mere Christianity, Harper. 3 contemporary classics by a 20th century Anglican apologist.
11. The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, Image Books. A guide to a 30 day retreat by the founder of the Jesuits. Classic.
*12. The Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St Thérèse of Lisieux, Fr Jamart, OCD, Alba House. Excellent insights into St Thérèse and her spirituality.
13. Saint Margaret Mary, by Leon Cristiani, St Paul. Unusual story of this sister to whom Christ revealed the devotion to His Sacred Heart. Also see St Margaret Mary's Autobiography, by TAN Books.
14. The Holy Eucharist, and a host of other books by St Alphonsus Ligouri; TAN books. Classic works.
15. True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, by St Louis de Montfort, Alba House. A classic on finding Jesus through consecration to Mary.
16. Butler's Lives of the Saints, 4 vol, Christian Classics or 1 vol version by Harper & Row. Classic.
*17. Mercy My Mission, by Sr. Sophia Michalenko, Servant; & Divine Mercy in My Soul, the Diary of St. Maria Faustina, Marian Press. Origin of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, & the holy nun who received it.
These works are more difficult reading but are deeply spiritual. (No pain, no gain!)
1. The Complete Works of St Teresa of Avila, 3 vols, Inst. for Carmelite Studies: Her Autobiography (read this first), The Way of Perfection, Interior Castle, **Foundations, etc. Read this woman! Great!
2. The complete Works of St John of the Cross, Institute for Carmelite Studies: Spiritual Canticle, and Living Flame of Love, read first. Then try the more difficult, The Dark Night of the Soul, and The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Classics, but not easy reading.
3. Confessions of St Augustine, various publishers. Classic autobiography of this sinner, turned saint.
4. The Cloud of Unknowing, Anonymous, Image Books. Deep. On contemplation, perfection.
5. Writings of the Church Fathers such as Augustine, Chrysostom, Gregory the Great, Ephraem, Ambrose.
**Most of these books can be found at or or (old books)
(This is not spiritual reading.)
*National Catholic Register - P.O. Box 293178 Kettering, OH 45429, Phone: (800) 421-3230. Bi-weekly, theological, orthodox. Very pro-life.
*Homiletic and Pastoral Review - Ignatius Press, (800) 651-1531. For priests, but laity love it. Scholarly, online only.
Our Sunday Visitor - Fine, solidly Catholic weekly.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, USCCB 1995. THE SOURCE. Free download from USCCB - see
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Ludwig Ott, TAN. 1954 Classic. Excellent!
The Christian Faith, by Neuner & Dupuis, Alba House. Councils, papal statements. Good index.
The Teaching of Christ, by Lawler, et al., OSV.
Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) - Mother Angelica's network. If your cable company doesn't have it, get the DISH satellite system. Call (800) 733-3986. At you can learn of WEWN short wave radio or download Church documents.
In Washington, DC Area
Daughters of St Paul - 1025 King St, Alexandria, VA. (703) 683-1741.
Franciscan Monastery - 1400 Quincy St NE - Washington, DC. (202) 269-5437. Books, rosaries, & more.
Catholic Information Center - 815 15th St NW. Washington, DC. (202) 783-2062. Run by Opus dei. Great books, leaflets, rosaries, etc.
Gift Shop - Shrine of the Immaculate Conception - 4th & Michigan NE. Washington, DC. (202) 526-1287. Huge selection of great bks, videos, audios, etc.
**Free Sts. pdf Downloads
Daughters of St Paul - (800) 836-9723. Solid Catholic books, tapes, videos, etc.
Sophia Institute Press, P. O. Box 5284, Manchester, NH 03108. (800)-888-9344.
TAN Books, Now part of Saint Benedict Press, PO Box 410487, Charlotte, NC 28241 (800) 437-5876. Great spiritual books.
Scepter Press, P. O. Box 1270, Princeton, NJ 08542. (800) 322-8773.
Ignatius Press, P.O. Box 1339, Ft. Collins, CO 80522. (800) 651-1531. Fine authors, books on tape, videos.
Christian Book Distributors, P.O. Box 7000, Peabody, MA 01961. (978) 977-5000. Christian books, tapes, Bibles, etc.
Audio/Video Tapes
St Joseph's Communications, P.O. Box 720 - W. Covina, CA 91793. (800) 526-2151.
Keep The Faith 201-327-5900. Great CDs & books on tape, including Fulton Sheen.
Provided by: Catholic Faith Alive!, Inc.
© 2016 Rev. T. G. Morrow
Permission to reproduce and distribute free is hereby granted.