Patricia who blogs over at I Want to See God has tagged me for a “meme”. I had to look up “meme”, not being as computer savvy as I’d like to be.
For this “meme” I am to name my three favorite religious books and then choose five friends to do the same. My thoughts went wild thinking about which three books from my religious book collection would be my favorite. All the titles on my bookshelf passed across my mind, especially those I have read over and over again. All those Carmelite books – how could I just choose three! I mean, St. John of the Cross is my dear favorite, but then I have grown to love St. Teresa of Jesus and have read The Way of Perfection how many times now? Then, of course, there is little St. Therese and her Story of a Soul – who wouldn’t include that as their favorite?
I decided that these and all the other Carmelite writings and books that I own and have read are a given as favorites. Instead of including these obvious ones in this “meme” , I will redirect readers to this page for a list of these and where they can find them. For this “meme”, I decided to include two spiritual classics that were ones St. Therese and St. Teresa had read and gained much profit from in their spiritual lives. For my third book, I chose one that was written by a Carmelite priest.
This first spiritual classic is The Imitation of Christ. This was a favorite of St. Therese. She had it memorized by age fifteen. Her aunt would open up the book and give St. Therese the book and chapter number, and St. Therese would recite the passage from memory!
“I was nourished for a long time on the “pure flour” contained in the Imitation of Christ, this being the only book which did me any good. . . I knew almost all the chapters of my beloved Imitation by heart. This little book never parted company from me, for in the summer I carried it in my pocket,in winter, in my muff.” (Story of a Soul)
The Imitation of Christ was first published in the 1400‘s. It is a spiritual classic loved by Catholics and non-Catholic Christians. Each book is relatively short and contains short chapters on various topics pertaining to the spiritual life and the Blessed Sacrament. This book is also in the public domain and can be found in numerous places on the internet.
My copy is published by The Confraternity of the Precious Blood and is a rather small one that does fit in a pocket or in a purse. Although I do not have this book memorized, I do have numerous pages dog-eared and many passaged underlined. I have read and reread it several times by keeping it with me in my purse and pulling it out whenever I found myself someplace where I had to wait: dentist office waiting rooms, in line at the drive-up window at the bank, waiting for children to finish sports practice, etc. I would even take it to the ski hill with me and keep it in my ski coat pocket pulling it out whenever I was alone on the ski lift to meditate on a page or two during the ride up the mountain.
The other spiritual classic is The Third Spiritual Alphabet. This was the book that St. Teresa of Avila was so fond of and mentions in her autobiography (Life, chap 4). This book is about the prayer of recollection and St. Teresa says she was:
“delighted with the book and resolved to follow that way of prayer with all my might”
It was St. Teresa’s uncle who gave her The Third Spiritual Alphabet by Francisco de Osuna when she was ill and living at her father’s home. This book is another readable medieval classic from the early 16th century written by a Franciscan, Francisco de Osuna, on the topic of recollection. Each chapter, or treatise, covers a particular topic or point of recollection giving practical advice and quoting from Scriptures. Each treatise can stand on its own, so it isn’t necessary to read the book systematically beginning with the first chapter. My favorite chapters have been on giving thanks, on how we are to control our speech, and on safeguarding the heart. All of which are important if we are to be recollected and focused on God.
The third book that has been a favorite is Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D. This lovely book, well worth the price if found in hardcover, is based on the liturgical year. Beginning with Advent, the book covers numerous topics on the interior life, virtues, gifts of the Holy Spirit, Mary, and prayer. For each day of the liturgical year, there is a two-part meditation, followed by a “colloquy”. This book is an excellent one to use for daily meditation and the practice of lectio divina. The liturgical calendar this book follows is the traditional Tridentine calendar; however, you can still use it and follow the Novus ordo calendar with some simple adaptations.
This was lots of fun and I would like to invite the following five friends to join in on this fun sharing their three favorite religious books: cinhosa at cinhosa, Emily at Catholic Poster Girl, Christine at laudem gloriae, Kellie at Faith, Family and Friends, and Julia at The Value of Sparrows.