The interior life is both simple and very complicated with much need for direction. The following are 10 books that are amazing guides for growing in
The Spiritual Life by Adolphe Tanquerrey: The Spiritual Life is an exhaustive treatise on spiritual and ascetical theology. This book has taken the place of a spiritual director in my life many many times when I had no one to take that role. It was very prevalent in seminary curriculums until about 70 years ago.
Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis DeSales: This book is meant to be exhaustive but the great aspect of this work is the order to the exercises he gives. Most people will read and practice the levels of the book in a year but that would not be the original intention of the author. It is a program of life particularly directed at lay people.
Spiritual Combat by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli: This book also offer a pretty complete program for the spiritual life but it definitely is not for the beginner. This is a great bookto pick up if have gotten slack or slothful in your prayer life. It also is ideal for those who are in a deliberate fight with sin. (which should be all of us. If you have read it already and would like a fresh perspective try the Orthodox edition called “Unseen Warfare”. It is almost the same with some great additions.
One Heart Full of Love by Mother Teresa: As I stated before the interior life is both simple and very complicated. This book will remind us that when it comes down to it the interior life is just about prayer, silence, humility, simplicity and
The Way of the Disciple by Erasmo Leiva Merikakis: This is my very favorite spiritual book. Merikakis has a keen understanding of the essence of discipleship. Give it a chance and you will not regret it.
Omnibus of Sources by many authors: This is a collection of writings by and about St. Francis of Assisi. If the interior life is just about loving Jesus then Francis is the person to learn from. After Mary I believe Francis was the greatest lover ofJesus to walk the earth. After reading the Omnibus you will think the same thing.
The Philokalia by many authors: The Philokalia is the collection of the Desert and Eastern Church Fathers writings on prayer and asceticism. It is phenomenal. (If you like it but need something more simple pick up The Way of a pilgrim)
Anything by St. John of the Cross: I recommend the collected works of John of the Cross but anything by him is amazing. He is the product of a long an arduous interior life. Reading John of the Cross can be tricky but well worth
Anything by Teresa of Avila: Interior Castle is mystical and can be confusing but it also is very well organized and laid out. It is the kind of book that you read where there is a lot you don’t really understand and then years later it makes sense to you. (At least that’s what I experienced.)
Every book by Fr. Jacques Philippe: They can be read in under an hour but they are profound and highly practical. He is a living spiritual master and he is still writing so we have much more to watch out for from him.
Books and study do not make you holy. That being said you will need guidance along the way of your interior journey. These books all played a substantial role in my interior life and they may help you as well.
Dave VanVickle is a Catholic speaker and writer focusing on the Universal Call to Holiness and Authentic Catholic Spirituality. He is currently employed as the Director of Evangelization for the parishes of the Catholic Community of Wexford, PA.