Sign Up for our Free Daily Email Updates / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Life-Changing Summer Reading Program and Webinar

May 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Books, Dan Burke, Webinar

Summer starts officially in less than a month — are you ready?

(Also, don't miss the “Life-Changing Summer Reading” webinar opportunity at the end of this post!)

I teach a course called “Foundations of Prayer and Union with God” for the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation. In this course I have had the great blessing of watching hundreds of God's good people grow more deeply in their prayer and union with God. 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 and list you see below is what I prepared for them.

I have given an order of priority to the list in terms of what might be most meaningful at each stage of the three-fold path of spiritual growth (purgative, illuminative, unitive). Of course, there are spacial limitations to this approach. 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 at least a few years.

There are a few more distinctions about the list 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.

Summer Reading Plan 2015 Graphic

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. This work, coupled with Part Four of the Catechism on prayer, will provide a firm foundation and understanding of the life-changing prayer in the authentic tradition of the Church.

The books in blue are recommended for daily meditation, daily spiritual reading, or lectio divina. The Better Part is by far the best daily meditation book for those who are new or relatively new to a daily practice of meditation because it is completely focused on the person and work of Christ in the gospels. 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.

For the soul that has spent at least a year in scriptural meditation on the life of Christ, I strongly recommend Divine Intimacy for additional daily meditation or lectio divina. This work is a treasure of the interior life that will keep you spiritually challenged for decades. It will also expose you to other spiritual masters and mystics along the way.

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 not have otherwise known.

By the way, if these reads seem a bit heavy, I might recommend two resources that would be on the fun side. One is on the list, a recent devotional by my friend Teresa Tomeo, Walk Softly and Carry a Great Bag. This book was written for busy women in a style that is pithy and relevant to the daily challenges women face. The other is a bit more serious – a fictional account that reveals authentic wisdom regarding how the enemy seeks to derail our ascent to God: the Screwtape Letters.

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.

If you're interested in learning more and discussing this, register for my “Life-Changing Summer Reading” webinar, scheduled for May 30 at 10 AM Central.

The webinar will answer these questions, as well as allowing time for your questions:

  • What is spiritual reading?
  • How can spiritual reading bring me closer to God?
  • What is appropriate material for spiritual reading?
  • What are the best spiritual books out there?
  • How can I know what I should specifically read?

Webinar - Life-Changing Spiritual Reading -

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!

  • DianeVa

    Shared on Facebook! These are great recommendations Dan!

  • SB

    What a great list! Any recommendations for children. I have a 9 and 10 year old. They’re getting too old for the little kid books out there but most adult books are too advanced. Would love to here recommendations for teens and tweens. Thank you!

    • LizEst

      Great idea SB! Thanks…and God bless you!

    • Ann

      The Vision Books on the saints from Ignatius Press are really good.

    • Vicki

      I would also recommend saint books by Mary Fabyan Windeatt. They are wonderful! Additionally, The King of the Golden City is a wonderful book I would recommend to anyone, although it was written for children preparing for the sacraments. It’s by Mother Mary of Loyola – we actually read it in our book club a while back. Here is the link for our discussions on the book, in case you’d like to check them out:; Also, try this website for other books by Mother Mary of Loyola: — she has an amazing ability to take complex issues and break them down for children into beautiful stories. I think she’s written over 20 books. Finally, if your children have simple reading time at home, I would recommend the reading series by Seton Press – they have three books each for 1-8th grade; they are story books;some just simple stories, some specifically catechetical in story form; but they all have some moral component and they are lots of fun for the kids to read. Even if they balk at first, I promise, they will like to read them. I have my third grader read one aloud to me every day, and I have done that with all my kids. (Sorry if this is too much information – I get very excited about children’s books:)!!!) God bless!!

      • Anything Vicki recommends is going to be gold. I concur without reservation.

      • SB

        Thank you so much to everyone that responded. These are Wonderful suggestions!! Not too much info at all Vicki. Just what I was looking for.

    • Vicki

      BTW – I didn’t notice your request for teen books – I think C.S. Lewis does a great job of illustrating truth for teens. Mine have read Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters. Also, an addendum to my really long note below — the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis is great to read aloud to 9 & 10 year olds and then talk about all the symbolism in the books – here is one example of symbolism found in A Horse and His boy – I discussed it in a post a while back: Good luck!

  • Judy Silhan

    As always, I appreciate your recommendations for spiritual reading. Your mention of Screwtape Letters, however, reminded me of the shock-effect I experienced as a student of Paul McCusker’s class on C.S. Lewis and Spiritual Warfare. Prior to this class, I had not read anything written “by Satan and from his perspective” on how to influence us humans so that we would be comfortable accepting a world view rather than a God centered view. Actually, I did not see it on the, as you said, fun side. (I guess if seeing the ridiculousness of what Satan sometimes tempts us with might be fun. I don’t know.) Personally, I saw this writing as a sad confirmation of what is happening in our Church and our faith communities, including friends and family who have been influenced, just as Lewis points out, by Satan, and have left the Church. Very good read, as well as class to take at Avila Institute.

    • Thanks Judy – the post was not worded properly. I made the adjustment.

      • LizEst

        Hmm…I took it as being a quote from Lewis and/or McCusker.

  • Tybourne

    Great idea, thanks for it. Please could you let me know if there’s any significance to whether the titles fall on the left or right side of the curved line? Also, what about Eastern rite and Orthodox writers? Thanks.

    • T – no significance. Though I have read much in the East, I am far from able to provide a meaningful list for you. That would have to come from our of our Eastern Rite scholars at the Avila Institute.

  • Nissa

    Hello, an “administrative” question: if I signed up for the webinar but could not attend for some reason (busy life with kids’ unpredictable schedules!) will there be a recording of it available for those who sign up?

    • Caroline Mills Lawry

      There was a video of the one previous to this one so I would expect the same this time.

  • Theresa George

    I will tell you that after scripture, “Divine Intimacy” is my favorite book for meditation. I have had it for 15 years and still draw so much from the meditations in there. I can’t recommend it enough.

    Oddly enough, I am making my way through Michael O’Brien’s series as we speak (children of the last days). I just reserved “Theophilos” at my library. I am assuming there is some good spiritual insights in there if you are including it on your list. Even in his novels, insights will come to me. There is much depth to them.

    So, I look forward to summer reading and growing spiritually ; )

  • MaryofSharon

    I do appreciate these resources and I have spread the word. I created a website I call “School of Prayer” for my parish and featured your reading list (well, the older version, for now) on its own page. Recommendations from fill my site. Creating my site helped me to appreciate, in a new way, how much I have gleaned from

    • LizEst

      Looks great! And, thank you so much for providing links to our site and the Avila Institute. May the Lord bless you abundantly!

  • Pingback: MONDAY AFTERNOON EDITION - Big Pulpit()

  • Pingback: | Catholic Spiritual Direction | Keeping Faith Alive During Life's Dark Nights (Part III of IV) Catholic Spiritual Direction()

  • MaryofSharon

    Could you put a higher resolution image of the reading plan with this article? I love this chart and share it with others frequently, but it’s hard to see. Is this just me?

    • LizEst

      Sorry, MaryofSharon. Our system will not allow it at this time. But, I have sent you a higher resolution image by email. Please check your email. it is already on the way to you. Hope that helps!…and, God bless you!

  • Pingback: | Catholic Spiritual Direction | Prepare the Way of the Lord! Advent & Christmas Preparation / Catholic Spiritual Direction()

Skip to toolbar