Most Influential book
In my graduate class at CUA , I asked students to name the most influential spiritual book they have read and their favorite spiritual classic. Not surprisingly, there were some titles that I expected to hear; Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis De Sales and The Interior Castle, by St. Teresa of Avila. However, there were some “lesser known” titles some of you may find quite interesting.
Of local interest
Two students named My Other Self, by Deacon Clarence Enzler. Deacon Enzler was in the first class of men ordained permanent deacons in the Archdiocese of Washington. He is also famous for being the father of Msgr. John Enzler, pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish! This book is currently out of print, but if you belong to a parish in the archdiocese and it has a library, I bet you will find the book on the shelf.
All kinds of classics
Another student, who was raised in a small farming village in northern Greece, said that the only book his family owned during his childhood was the Bible and so he would have to name that as the most influential spiritual book of his youth. Can’t go wrong with that! If you have never read the Bible and you are looking for something with drama, love, intrigue, war, peace; this is the book for you. While I don’t recommend reading it cover to cover, moving around the books of the Old Testament, the Gospels and the letters and epistles can bring a new appreciation for the Good News.
New to me is Five Loaves and Two Fish. It is the spiritual memoir of Francis Xavier Van Thuan. Five Loaves explores the faith that saw Van Thuan through house arrest in North Vietnam, missionary work in China and service as a bishop and Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church.
If you like Medieval spirituality, consider Practice of the Presence of God. Written in the 17th century by Brother Laurence of the Resurrection it explores how we can keep our conversation with God going strong. That certainly ranks high as a timeless topic!
The final recommendation that came from the class is In the Midst of our World: Forces of Spiritual Renewalby Paul Josef Cordes.
In my beach bag
I am working my way through Francis Cardinal George’s The Difference God Makes: Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion and Culture. It’s not exactly beach reading but it is a very interesting look at the opportunities and challenges for evangelization in the U.S.. On a lighter note, I am also reading Abbess of Andalusiaby Lorraine Murray. It is a look at the spiritual life of Flannery O’Connor. Written in a very conversational tone, it brings alive both the quirkiness and wit of O’Connor as well as her deep and abiding faith and love of the Eucharist.
If none of these peak your interest, explore the books in the Catholic Life-time Reading Plan selected by the Catholic Information Center in DC.