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Ever-Deepening Prayer Life: Holy Summer Reading Resources

June 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Books, Dan Burke, Prayer, Resources

I just finished teaching a course entitled Navigating the Interior Life – Foundations of Prayer and Union with God for the Avila Institute School of Spiritual Formation.

The course has been a joy to teach because I have had the great blessing of watching more than sixty of God's precious souls grow more deeply in their prayer and union with God. These students of the spiritual life included religious, a hermit, deacons, doctors, attorneys, psychologists, grandmothers, grandfathers, fathers, mothers and more. The other astounding aspect of the experience is that they hail from all corners of the earth including Australia, Canada, Qatar, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

During the course a number of the students asked if I could provide a list of spiritual reading that might help them continue in their progress. The graphic you see below is what I prepared for them. I also prepared a section of links on this site entitled “Resources” where you can find links to most of these titles.

I decided to give an order of priority to the list below in terms of what readings might be most meaningful at each stage of spiritual growth. Of course, there are spacial limitations to this approach as well as the reality that different spiritualities and approaches won't appeal to everyone. Beyond that, there are more books than I could ever fit in! So, I had to compromise and provide a list that will still keep anyone busy for a few years.

There are a few more distinctions about the list below that might be helpful. The books in red are works that I believe every Catholic should read at one time or another for various reasons. For instance, Fr. Thomas Dubay's Prayer Primer is a must read even for those advanced in prayer. Why? Because there is much by way of false teachings on prayer spreading around the Church and this work, coupled with Part Four of the Catechism on the topic of prayer, will provide the surest protection by providing the foundational elements to understanding prayer in the authentic tradition of the Church. On a side note, the Catechism on prayer is far from boring. In fact the treatment on prayer is so rich it is worthy material for meditation. With respect to my book, Navigating the Interior Life, being in red, some might think this presumptuous. However, I list it because the content is very important and is drawn from the wisdom of the Church, not the wisdom of Dan.

The books in blue are recommended for daily meditation, spiritual reading, or lectio divina. The Better Part is by far the best daily meditation book for those who are just beginning a daily practice of meditation because it is 100% focused on the person and work of Christ in scripture. The Better Part provides reflections on every passage of each of the gospels focused on Christ as our teacher, our friend, our Lord and then Christ in our life. The Better Part is also available in spanish and is entitled La Mejor Parte.

For the soul that has spent at least a year in scriptural meditation on the life of Christ, I strongly recommend Divine Intimacy. This work is a treasure of the interior life that will keep you spiritually challenged on a daily basis for years to come, and will expose you to other spiritual masters and great mystics along the way. [Editors Note: Dan missed an important work on his slide that he highly recommends – The Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin.]

With respect to a summer reading program, my prayer is that you will just pick up one of these books and launch into an adventure with God that you would have otherwise never known.

Click here to review the titles on our Resources page.

Oh yes, one more thing. If you appreciate these resources, please help us spread the word by sharing it on Facebook and any other way that works best for you. We are grateful for your help!

Reading for An Ever Deepening Prayer Life v2

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Caroline Mills Lawry

    Wow! I thought you were talking about this most recent class you taught. Then I looked again at the date of the newsletter.

    I will add a ditto to everyone’s assessment of the course even though I took it later. I cannot begin to sum up how the course has affected my intellectual but most importantly my spiritual deepening of my prayer life.

    Curiously, I already have a number of these recommended books which I picked out of thin air. Of course the Holy Spirit led me to these books. I am now rereading them because of my deeper understanding as a result of the course.

    Thank you, Dan, for allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you. I also don’t discount in any way your dedication to continuing learning your own spiritual path. It has given me courage to continue with my own.

  • MaryofSharon

    How about updating the resource page to include all the Book Club books covered so far? It would help to have good editions/translations recommended there, and it would be nice to see, at a quick glance, all the books read.

    • LizEst

      When you click on Vicki’s link above scroll down to the bottom of the page. All the books which the Book Club has read are listed there.

      As well, when Dan–in his spare time–teaches me how to update the resource page, I’ll be happy to put all the book links for previous book club selections in that section entitled “Book Club Reads”. I believe it requires knowledge of, and access to, a special widget…and I am unschooled in that.

      • MaryofSharon

        Thanks, Liz! That list is a whole lot easier than digging through archives.

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