Reading books is a good practice. It keeps your brain in shape, it can be relaxing, and it certainly has the potential to enrich your life. But these days, reading an actual book is a lot less popular than it used to be, which isn’t surprising when we consider the endless social media and variety of blogs at our fingertips.
While there’s nothing wrong with reading online content, most would argue that it’s not usually as enriching as books are, especially when it comes to spiritual reading.
If you’ve been hoping to get a good book list together for the upcoming year, here are four spiritual works that can be enriching for single Catholic men and women, as well as a couple of clean fiction reads that are great for your entertainment needs.
Introduction to the Devout Life
You usually can’t go wrong on a book written by a saint, but most honest Catholics will admit that some of the saints’ writings are a bit too heavy to get into very easily.
Introduction to the Devout Life by Saint Francis de Sales, though, is not of this “too heavy” category at all.
He wrote the book addressed to a married laywoman he knew who wished to grow in piety while living at court. It’s full of practical advice for living a holy spiritual life while being in the world. His writing also gives concrete instructions on how to practice mental prayer and meditation.
The advice and instructions contained in Introduction to the Devout Life can be helpful for lay Catholics at any point in their lives. But it can be particularly helpful for single Catholics who are working on strengthening their prayer lives and their relationship with Jesus.
Our single years are perhaps the best time to work on gaining a strong intimacy with Jesus, as our commitments are typically fewer and our free time usually more expendable. This work by Francis de Sales is a great place to start working on this endeavor.
Divine Mercy in My Soul
The diary of Saint Faustina is called Divine Mercy in My Soul, and it contains a lot of spiritual treasures. Christ appeared to Faustina with a message about his mercy. These apparitions contain the origins of devotions like the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Divine Mercy Sunday.
Pope Saint John Paul II had a great devotion to Faustina and to Jesus’ Divine Mercy, and as we read her writings it is not hard to see why. Faustina’s diary can teach us many things about the great love Jesus has for us, while also giving us a window into such topics as enduring sufferings patiently and practicing obedience when it is very difficult.
Perhaps one of the most striking spiritual lessons for singles contained in this book is the message that it is easier for God to grant us more than less. There is no limit to what he can give us, so there should be no limit in what we are asking of him.
The Love That Keeps Us Sane
This one is a less well-known spiritual book by a Carmelite priest named Marc Foley O.C.D. The full title is The Love That Keeps Us Sane: Living the Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux.
Now there have been a lot of books written about Therese of Lisieux and her little way, and this one isn’t necessarily the best or most illuminating of them all. But it is a small, unimposing book with some real gems in it that we can apply to our lives.
For any singles struggling with feeling like the efforts and prayers they are putting into finding a spouse are leading nowhere, this book offers insight into how we can view our efforts in relation to God’s plan for us.
The book illustrates Therese’s ability to focus on what God is asking her to do and to leave the results of her actions to Him alone. This is not an easy lesson for most of us to digest, and reading about St. Therese’s ability to live this out can be very helpful for us.
Way to Inner Peace
Fulton Sheen is not a saint yet, but you can’t go wrong with a book written by him. His style is easy to read, occasionally pretty funny, and usually quite insightful. Way to Inner Peace is a small book with very short chapters that make it easy to pick up for a few minutes at a time.
Though Sheen wrote the book decades ago, his insights on society are still relevant in our own day and age. He offers various reflections on the world and on how we can change our mentality to feel more peaceful in our lives.
. . . and a few entertaining reads
Reading doesn’t always have to be purely for spiritual enlightenment. It’s still healthy for us to read for entertainment! Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of trash out there in the fiction or entertaining non-fiction realm, so here are a couple of clean recs to get you started.
- Rachel’s Contrition by Michelle Buckman is a Catholic story that is not cheesy or silly like a lot of so-called “Christian Fiction” tends to be. It’s about grief and married love. This book is quite engrossing, and the story is ultimately very redemptive.
- One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler is technically non-fiction, but it’s easily as entertaining as a fiction book. It’s a memoir about a married woman with several kids who learns how to pursue her passions in life while also being a good wife and mother.
- And lastly, if you’re one of those adults who happens to still like young adult fiction, here’s a shameless plug for the clean young adult romance novel that I wrote called Sydney and Calvin Have a Baby (soon to be a major motion picture!). It’s a non-cheesy Catholic Juno-ish story about a crisis pregnancy and finding love when you least expect it.
What are you reading this year? Drop you current read in the comment section below so we can add it to our to-read list!