My Reading Challenge Pick for…A Book by a Doctor of the Church

We are down to the last three categories for the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge. I’ve been sharing what I’m reading throughout the year for each one.

Category: A Book by a Doctor of the Church

My Pick: An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

Of all the hundreds of saints in the Church, we only have 36 that hold of title of “Doctor of the Church.” So basically anything that you pick from these folks will deliver profound insights — guarenteed. The hard part is picking one. It wasn’t too hard for me, because I had been meaning to read An Introduction to the Devout Life for quite some time (which is why these reading challenges can be just the motivating force we need).

This book has been described as a prime manual for spiritual direction and St. Francis the ultimate spiritual director. (In fact, he wrote it as such, addressing one woman, Philothea, in her pursuit of the devout Christian life.) I certainly agree with that sentiment; moreover, I found the work to be both essentially practical and timelessly inspired. Every topic, and he covers quite a range of them, applies to pretty much every Christian’s life.

One of the most impactful topics for me personally was his step-by-step description of the process of mental prayer. I have been trying to develop this practice in my own life, but I struggled in finding helpful resources to guide a novice. St. Francis’s advice and methodical approach are exactly what a beginner needs, and I have found myself able to immediately apply his method in my prayer time.

Another great aspect of this book is that the 118 “chapters” are generally very short — most are 1-2 pages. So you could take this book in small daily chapter nuggets — kind of like a daily devotional — and spend a longer time meditating on each topic and host of insights. Here is a short list of some of the other topics covered in the book:

  • The definition of true devotion
  • Meditations for mental prayer
  • An entire section on various forms of prayer
  • Descriptions of the virtues and how to practice them
  • Edifying friendships
  • Marriage advice
  • The proper place for amusements and pleasures
  • Assertaining the state of your soul: consolation and desolation
  • How to conduct spiritual examinations of ourselves

There are more topics than these, as well as a variety of helpful sub-topics within each of the above. Basically, everyone would come away from this book with something significant that is immediately applicable to daily life. Some books of spiritual direction are not for everyone, especially given particular tastes and vocations; but this is one that I believe should be read by every person who is striving to live a devout Christian life.

 


What Book by a Doctor of the Church did you read for the #2017catholicreadingchallenge? If you are posting your pick on social media, remember to use the hashtag!

 

Copyright 2017 Jessica Ptomey

 

My Reading Challenge Pick for…A Book by Pope Benedict XVI

I’ve been sharing what I’m reading throughout the year for the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge, and we are down to the last few.  

Category: A Book by Pope Benedict XVI (a.k.a. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger)

My Pick: Daughter Zion: Meditations on the Church’s Marian Belief

This book is a really quick read; I got through it in under two hours. It provides an excellent introduction to the most significant biblical roots of the Catholic Church’s teaching on Mary and how her role is woven into the fabric of our faith. (Since this book was written before Cardinal Ratzinger became pope, I will refer to his authorship here by that name.)

The book is basically divided into two parts. In the first section, Ratzinger states that “the image of Mary in the New Testament is woven entirely of Old Testament threads,” and he identifies three main “strands” (p.12):

  1. Mary resembles the “great mothers” of the old testament — like Sarah and Hannah.
  2. Mary is a picture of “daughter zion” — the people of Israel — with whom God has established his everlasting covenant.
  3. Mary is the “New Eve” — a woman whose “yes” birthed life, where the disobedience of the first woman had birthed death to mankind.

Continue reading “My Reading Challenge Pick for…A Book by Pope Benedict XVI”

My Reading Challenge Pick for “A Book by C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton”

I’ve been sharing what I’m reading throughout the year for the 2017 Catholic Reading Challenge, and I’m very excited to talk about this one… 

Category: A Book by C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton

My Pick: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

If I was forced to pick my top five favorite authors, C. S. Lewis would have to be among them. His wisdom is inspired; his insights are timeless; his tone is, ahhh, so compelling. For the Reading Challenge I decided to re-read Mere Christianity. The first time I read it I was 18, and I still have that copy. It’s funny to see what passages I underlined and noted this time that were not marked before, but I disagreed with none of my previous markings of years ago. They would have all been underlined again (although without the unsteady, florescent highlighter pen). 

Lewis must be the most-quoted Christian author of recent decades, and many of his famous passages that you have heard recited probably came from this book. Just for fun, here are a few examples: Continue reading “My Reading Challenge Pick for “A Book by C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton””