If you’re like me, you’re usually looking for something to add to your reading list that is inspirational. But I also look for encouragement in what I read. As Catholic singles, we have to become people of joy. That’s sometimes not an easy task. Here are eight of my favorite books on the subject of joy to add to your to-read list right away!
1. The Book of Philippians
Saint Paul’s Letter to the Philippians takes the cake for being the most joyful book ever written. Unbelievably, Paul wrote it while he was in prison. His letter mentions joy many times, offering encouragement to fellow Christians, even though he was in jail.
This book will so improve your joy that I challenge you to read this entire book of the Bible during your prayer time. Set aside time in the morning or evening, whichever works best for you. Then, for the next 30 days, spend time reading through Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. Pick a quiet place in your home, light a candle, and make time for your prayer time. Guaranteed, you will be a more joyful single after you read this.
Paul makes an amazing point in this book. But the most important lesson Paul teaches is that joy is not dependent on circumstances. Joy comes from having God. This can teach us, as Catholic singles, a great lesson. Even though singleness may not be a season we picked or a season we desire, God still calls us to live out the Gospel joyfully. Despite his struggles and unfortunate situations, Paul knew how much God loved him.
2. The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis
Among many of his wonderful attributes, Pope Francis is a joyful pope. Perhaps it comes from so many years of pondering The Spiritual Exercises by Saint Ignatius. Maybe the pope’s joy comes from his work with the poor. Regardless of the source, Pope Francis exudes joy.
The office of the pope is not always an easy leadership position to be in. This is especially true given the recent scandals that have rocked the church. The Joy of the Gospel challenges us as singles to bring this joy to others. We’re called to tell others the Good News of salvation. Pope Francis’ thoughts on joy will inspire you to live out your missionary call!
3. The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years by Emily Stimpson
Although this book is written as a survival guide for women, it can easily be read by both men and women. If you’re a single man and would like to gain insight into how women think, it’s a great book to pick up. This book may be Steubenville graduate Emily Stimpson’s legacy to the Catholic single world. She is very funny, yet wise.
Emily talks about enjoying the beauty that God has created in the world. She finds beauty in the form of blue cashmere sweaters and shiny silver pots and pans(gentlemen you may or may not get this part of the book). She laments over the current state of our very godless culture but puts a positive spin on it by saying God is always there, “He’s quite lovely like that.” She talks about saints and literature and dates and many other subjects. This book will have you laughing even though it does touch on more serious issues, such as the ongoing culture war that we are all in and how there are indeed casualties in this war.
4. Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
C.S. is one of my favorite authors – and Surprised by Joy is one of my favorite books of his. Within the pages of this book, Lewis writes about how God led him out of the desert of atheism. God literally surprised Lewis with joy! If you’re looking for a personal story of how joy can affect your life, pick up a copy of this book at your library, local bookstore, or online.
5. He Leadeth Me by Father Walter Ciszek
Written many years after his ordeal of spending years in freezing Siberia as a missionary priest to the people of Russia, Fr. Walter inspires us all. He was away from any spiritual directors, anyone who could help him. It was basically him and God, for many years. I often ask Fr. Walter for his intercession in prayer. Prayer was a lifesaving routine during his five years of solitary confinement.
As Catholic singles, we need a routine of prayer in our daily life, too! Fr. Walter shares that his prayer life included an hour of prayer in the morning, praying the Mass, the Angelus, and the Examen. If you’re struggling in this season of singleness, this book will help you combat self-pity. God triumphed through the incredible story of Fr. Walter and He will triumph in your story, too. Now, Fr. Walter is on the path to sainthood in the Catholic Church!
6. The Story of a Soul by Saint Therese of Lisieux
What can I say? We all should imitate the life of Therese. We shouldn’t wait until we’re living our vocation to strive to be saints. Instead, we’re called right now to live the lives of litte saints. As Catholic singles, we can make little acts of love each day. This book will introduce you to the ardent love of Therese for Jesus Christ. As Catholic singles today, we can all imitate Therese’s intimate love for the Lord.
7. Chastity is for Lovers: Happy, Single and (Still) A Virgin by Arleen Spencely
Arleen is a thirty-something single. She often speaks often on the subject of chastity. The culture has lowered the bar on chastity, and all Catholic singles suffer from the results of that. Today, we need to raise the bar on chastity to build a better world.
Arleen also talks frankly about how people need to prepare to be better at marriage. But this isn’t the same preparation that the culture pushes for singles, encouraging us to come to marriage ‘experienced’ at sex, though. In fact, the culture pokes fun at Arleen because of her stance on chastity and her virginity. But Arleen is an inspiration to Catholic singles today.
To be a lover means committing totally, faithfully, fruitfully, freely. The virtue of chastity prepares us for that radical love. We all need to think about what would make God proud of our actions, and reject the lies of what the culture tells us that chastity is. We need to be counter-cultural Catholic singles, living a joyful life of love.
8. Christian Dating in a Godless World by Father T.G. Morrow
Father Morrow is a fellow traveler on the road of life. Before he discerned the priesthood, he spent a lot of time dating. His dating experience means that he knows the pain of a heartbreak, and endured may things. Through this book, Fr. Morrow helped form holy, Catholic singles. The sexual revolution destroyed things for singles, and Fr. Morrow wanted to rebuild.
Christian Dating in a Godless World is a beautiful book. Part of the book details chaste forms of affection that couples can share . Fr. Morrow rejects some of the Protestant views in dating, such as the belief that couples should show no physical affection at all while they’re dating. Instead, Fr. Morrow teaches Catholic singles that their body is good. This book is a source of great joy for Catholic singles looking for answers!