“Becoming a priest or a man or woman religious is not primarily our own decision… Rather it is the response to a call and to a call of love.” – Pope Francis
There are more than 66,000 religious sisters, brothers, and priests in the United States. One of the most daunting tasks for a young adult is answering the call from God to live out your vocation. How do we hear God’s call? How do we know we are doing His will? What if I’m not sure if I’m truly called to this vocation?
Here are a few recommendations for good spiritual books that can assist in preparation and discernment.
“Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales
Francis de Sales’s Introduction to the Devout Life has remained a uniquely accessible and relevant treasure of devotion for nearly four hundred years. As Bishop of Geneva in the first quarter of the sevenjteenth century, Francis de Sales saw to the spiritual needs of everyone from the poorest peasants to court ladies. The desire to be closer to God that he found in people from all levels of society led him to compile these instructions on how to live in Christ. Francis’s compassionate Introduction leads the reader through practical ways of attaining a devout life without renouncing the world and offers prayers and meditations to strengthen devotion in the face of temptation and hardship.
“Soul of the Apostolate” by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard
In his classic work The Soul of the Apostolate, Dom Chautard demonstrates that the very foundation of all apostolic work must be the Interior Life. The apostle of Christ will grow to become an instrument and true channel of God’s graces to the world only through prayer, meditation and the cultivation of the Interior Life. When one is involved in works of spiritual or corporal charity, his work can only be truly efficacious when he anchors his Interior Life in Christ. Without Christ we can do nothing.
“Way of Salvation and Perfection” by St. Alphonsus de Liguori
In this book, the spiritual master’s meditations focus on the life of the soul, its journey towards God, and the disastrous effects of sin on the soul. In particular, the saint focuses attention on the death of the Christian: “O moment, on which depends eternity!”
“Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence” by Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade
Possibly one of the greatest classics on surrendering our wills to Divine Providence (God’s will). Filled with beautiful, penetrating insights, an incredibly rich store of Catholic wisdom. Shows how sanctity is to be attained amidst our common daily activities when performed to perfection and for the love of God. Written to help those who despair of ever becoming holy.
“The Priest is Not His Own” by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
The beloved Archbishop Sheen, whose cause for canonization is open in Rome, presents a profound and deeply spiritual look at the meaning of the priesthood and relationship of the priest with Christ as an “alter Christus.”
Sheen delves deeply into what he considers the main character of the priesthood, and one not often discussed, that of being, like Christ, a “holy victim.” To be like Christ, Sheen emphasizes that the priest must imitate Christ in His example of sacrifice, offering himself as a victim to make His Incarnation continually present in the world.
“Unlike anyone else, Our Lord came on earth, not to live, but to die. Death for our redemption was the goal of His sojourn here, the gold that he was seeking. He was, therefore, not primarily a teacher, but a Savior. Was not Christ the Priest a Victim? He never offered anything except Himself. So we have a mutilated concept of our priesthood, if we envisage it apart from making ourselves victims in the prolongation of His Incarnation.”
“St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations” by Fr. John Clark, OCD
Those who attended St. Thérèse of Lisieux during her last illness were living in the company of one of God’s “greatest” saints, one prepared for our times. Fortunately for us they did not simply listen to her conversations, but wrote down what they remembered. This volume brings together their reports of Thérèse’s “final words” during her last months, including some of her most famous sayings, such as “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.”
“The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas A. Kempis
The Imitation of Christ is a cherished treasure of the Christian world and is the most widely read devotional work next to the Bible. Apart from the Bible no book has been translated into more languages than the Imitation of Christ. It was first composed in Latin ca.1418-1427. It is a handbook for spiritual life. The text is divided into four books, which provide detailed spiritual instructions: “Helpful Counsels of the Spiritual Life”, “Directives for the Interior Life”, “On Interior Consolation” and “On the Blessed Sacrament”. The approach taken in the Imitation is characterized by its emphasis on the interior life and withdrawal from the world. The book places a high level of emphasis on the devotion to the Eucharist as key element of spiritual life.
“True Devotion to Mary” by St. Louis de Montfort
“A work destined to become a classic of Marian spirituality was published 160 years ago. St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote the Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin at the beginning of the 1700s, but the manuscript remained practically unknown for more than a century. When, almost by chance, it was at last discovered in 1842 and published in 1843, the work was an instant success, proving extraordinarily effective in spreading the “true devotion” to the Most Holy Virgin.”
“My motto; ‘Totus Tuus’ is inspired by the teaching of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort. These two words express total belonging to Jesus through Mary: ‘Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt’, St Louis Marie wrote, and he translates his words: ‘I am all yours, and all that I have is yours, O most loving Jesus, through Mary, your most holy Mother’ (Treatise on True Devotion, n. 233). This Saint’s teaching has had a profound influence on the Marian devotion of many of the faithful and on my own life. It is a lived teaching of outstanding ascetic and mystical depth, expressed in a lively and passionate style that makes frequent use of images and symbols.”
“Conversations with Christ” by Peter Thomas Rohrbach
The practicality of St. Teresa of Avila’s teaching about mental prayer shines through in this wonderful synopsis of her writings about it–something she said “the whole world could not purchase.” Learn how we should pray, in order to grow in the spiritual life.
“The Spiritual Life of the Priest” by Fr. M. Eugene Boylan
“Gift and Mystery, On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination” by St. Pope John Paul II
“In Gift and Mystery we read ‘For every priest, in every age, the greatest task is each day to discover his own priestly “today” in the “today” of Christ.’ John Paul II understands that the event of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in world history continues daily in a special way in the priestly brotherhood of those who have been chosen to follow in his footsteps–and indeed in every man and woman, all called through the gift of faith to a life of holiness. In concluding Gift and Mystery, the pope writes to his brother priests, ‘Learn to see in your priesthood the Gospel treasure for which it is worth giving up everything.’ Surely in the life of this pope we see an extraordinary example of someone who has treasured the gift of his priestly ministry for more than fifty years.”
“The Courage to be Chaste” by Fr. Benedict Groeschel
A contemporary treatment of the traditional theme of chastity that shows that a mature chastity can be loving, peaceful and fulfilled.
GOOD WEBSITES FOR VOCATIONS:
Did we miss any? What are your favorite books on vocation?