A compilation of recommended books, movies, and other resources.
In Augustine’s experience, reading opens the mind to truth. Tolle, lege!
Suggestions are welcome
Karol, Part I & II: Italian mini-series. Started airing 2005. “Karol, A Man Who Became Pope isn t the first TV movie on the life of Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, but among the crop of 2005 Pope TV movies released in the wake of the Holy Father s death, it was the first, if not the best, and the only one to be seen and praised both by Benedict XVI and John Paul II himself. Benedict XVI addressed a word of admiration to the director and star, offering some moral reflections on the film s portrayals of the inhumanity of the Nazi era of Wojtyla s youth” –Decent Films : Christian Faith.ou
Of Gods and Men: Based on a true story that happened at a remote enclave of peaceful, studious priests. These Christian monks minister to the largely Muslim (and very poor) villagers in their vicinity, a balance that is threatened by Algeria’s Civil War. When nearby radical-Islamist insurgents begin killing foreigners, the monks must face a choice. Will they flee to safety–a perfectly rational and understandable decision that will leave the villagers without their only source of health care–or will they stay on, secure in their spiritual calling despite the possibility of abduction or murder?
Padre Pio: This movie captures the Capuchin friar’s intense faith and devotion, and deep spiritual concern for others, as well as his great compassion for the sick and suffering. It reveals the amazing details and events in Padre Pio’s life as a boy and throughout his 50 years as a friar, dramatizing the frequent attacks of the Devil on him, as well as the persecution he suffered at the hands of people, including those in the church. Starring Italian actor Sergio Castellitto, and directed by Carlo Carlei, this is an outstanding feature film on the amazing life of this great saint.
L’Apotre (The Apostle): Akim, a young Muslim destined to become an imam, goes through an identity crisis when he is touched by the love of Christ… In a chaotic family situation which pits him against his brother, Akim will strive to make his relatives accept him. The Apostle is both moves and challenges us to live our faith with more conviction. (Note: DVD in region 0 for France, a multi-region DVD player is needed to play).
For Greater Glory: “The 1917 Mexican Constitution included harsh anticlerical provisions that went unenforced until the regime of Plutarco Elías Calles….In 1926, Calles introduced legislation — the ‘Calles Law’ — specifying penalties for violating the constitutional prohibitions: Clergy could be imprisoned for criticizing the government, fined for wearing clerical garb in public, and so forth. Calles also moved to seize Church property, close Catholic schools, seminaries and monasteries, and deport foreign priests” (NCR). What price would you pay for freedom?
Bibles and Church Documents
- La Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo con Lectio Divina: Excelente traducción de Schökel, con anotaciones para guiar la lectura y la meditación de la Sagrada Escritura.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church / Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica: The Catechism draws on the Bible, the Mass, the Sacraments, Church tradition and teaching, and the lives of saints. It comes with a complete index, footnotes and cross-references for a fuller understanding of every subject. Using the tradition of explaining what the Church believes (the Creed), what she celebrates (the Sacraments), what she lives (the Commandments), and what she prays (the Lord’s Prayer), the Catechism of the Catholic Church offers challenges for believers and answers for all those interested in learning about the mystery of the Catholic faith. Here is a positive, coherent and contemporary map for our spiritual journey toward transformation.
- Laudato Si — On Care for Our Common Home / Cuidado de Nuestra Casa Común: Pope Francis’ encyclical. “In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to him!” (LS).
- YOUCAT: short for Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church. Developed with the help of young Catholics and written for high-school age people and young adults, YOUCAT is an accessible, contemporary expression of the Catholic Faith. The appealing graphic format includes Questions-and-Answers, highly-readable commentary, summary definitions of key terms, Bible citations and inspiring and thought-provoking quotes from Saints and others in the margins. Español.
- Introduction to the Devout Life / Introducción a la Vida Devota: St Francis de Sales’ 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.
- The Imitation of Christ / Imitación de Cristo: The Imitation is perhaps the most widely read devotional work next to the Bible, and is regarded as a devotional and religious classic. Its popularity was immediate, and it was printed 745 times before 1650. Apart from the Bible, no book has been translated into more languages than the Imitation of Christ. The approach taken in the Imitation is characterized by its emphasis on the interior life and withdrawal from the world, as opposed to an active imitation of Christ by other friars. The book places a high level of emphasis on the devotion to the Eucharist as key element of spiritual life.
- On Loving God / Tratado sobre el Amor a Dios: St Bernard’s master work on the spiritual life and growing in the love of God.
- Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila / Obras Selectas de Teresa de Ávila: This volume contains two of Teresa’s most popular works: The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle. In the first, St. Teresa detailed directions on the achievement of spiritual perfection designate three essentials — fraternal love, detachment from material things, and true humility. In The Interior Castle, St. Teresa’s vision was of a luminous crystal castle composed of seven chambers, or “mansions,” each representing a different stage in the development of the soul. St. Teresa describes how, upon entering the castle through prayer and meditation, the human spirit experiences humility, detachment, suffering, and, ultimately, self-knowledge, as it roams from room to room. As the soul progresses further toward the center of the castle, it comes closer to achieving ineffable and perfect peace, and, finally, a divine communion with God.
- Collected Works of St John of the Cross / Obras Selectas de San Juan de la Cruz: Included in The Collected Works are St. John’s poetry, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night, The Spiritual Canticle, and The Living Flame of Love, as well as his letters and other counsels. There is a general introduction for the entire work and brief, enlightening introductions for each specific work, explaining theme and structure. Enhancing these are the new footnotes, glossary of terms, and index.
- St. Augustine’s Confessions / Confesiones de San Agustín: The Confessions of Saint Augustine is considered the all time number one Christian classic. It is an extended poetic, passionate, intimate prayer. Augustine was probably forty-three when he began this endeavor. He had been a baptized Catholic for ten years, a priest for six, and a bishop for only two. His pre-baptismal life raised questions in the community. Was his conversion genuine? The first hearers were captivated, as many millions have been over the following sixteen centuries. His experience of God speaks to us across time with little need of transpositions.
- Story of a Soul / Historia de un Alma: Therese of Lisieux’ spiritual autobiography. Her “Little Way” has been a source of inspiration and encounter with God to many.
- The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way / El Peregrino Ruso: This classic of world spiritual literature is the firsthand account of a pilgrim’s journey as he endeavors to live out Saint Paul’s instruction to “pray without ceasing.” The narrator, an unnamed nineteenth-century peasant, sets out on his pilgrimage with nothing but a Bible, a rosary, and some dried bread. As he walks, he recites the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”)—a prayer that is said to quiet anxiety and fill the heart with love for all creation. With this prayer constantly on his lips, the pilgrim undergoes a profound spiritual education.
- Orthodoxy / Ortodoxia: A classic of Christian apologetics. Chesterton considered this book a companion to his other work, Heretics. In the book’s preface Chesterton states the purpose is to “attempt an explanation, not of whether the Christian faith can be believed, but of how he personally has come to believe it.” In it, Chesterton presents an original view of Christian religion. He sees it as the answer to natural human needs, the “answer to a riddle” in his own words, and not simply as an arbitrary truth received from somewhere outside the boundaries of human experience.
- The Screwtape Letters / Cartas del Diablo a su Sobrino: At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, The Screwtape Letters comprises the correspondence of the worldly-wise devil Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man.
- Mere Christianity / Mero Cristianismo: Bringing together Lewis’ legendary broadcast talks during World War Two from his three previous books The Case for Christianity, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality, Mere Christianity provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear this powerful apologetic for the Christian faith.
- The Divine Comedy / La Divina Comedia: Dante Alighieri’s poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the infinite torment of Hell, up the arduous slopes of Purgatory, and on to the glorious realm of Paradise—the sphere of universal harmony and eternal salvation. Includes illustrations and notes copious notes.
History and novels
- How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization: No institution has done more to shape Western civilization than the two-thousand-year-old Catholic Church—and in ways that many of us have forgotten or never known. Th author talks of: why modern science was born in the Catholic Church; how Catholic priests developed the idea of free-market economics five hundred years before Adam Smith; how the Catholic Church invented the university; why what you know about the Galileo affair is wrong; how Western law grew out of Church canon law, how the Church humanized the West by insisting on the sacredness of all human life.
- Slavery, Crusades, Inquisition, Galileo, Holocaust: Here is the distillation of the best of that recent historical work for students and adults alike–an unadorned laying bare of the truth. The five myths analyzed in this book have each been shaped by post-Reformation propaganda and Enlightenment prejudices and their residual effects. With Gerard Verschuuren’s new book, Catholics now have sure and ready replies to these baneful narratives.
- Leyendas Negras de la Iglesia: La pena de muerte, el caso Galileo, los nazis y la Iglesia, el Islam, la Inquisición, las riquezas vaticanas y la conquista de América son algunos de los temas que Vittorio Messori estudia con rigor científico e histórico.
- The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church: This work examines seven of the most controversial and most common myths about the Catholic Church. The Seven Myths: 1. The Church Opposes Science; 2. The Church Opposes Freedom and Happiness; 3. The Church Hates Women; 4. Indifferent to Love, the Church Banned Contraception; 5. The Church Hates Gays; 6. The Church Opposes Same-Sex Marriage Because of Bigotry; 7. Priestly Celibacy Caused the Crisis of Sexual Abuse of Minors.
- The Spear: A Novel of the Crucifixion: This is the full story of the world’s most dramatic execution, as it affected one of its least-known participants-the man who hurled his spear into Christ on the Cross. Among his many successful historical novels, Louis de Wohl considered The Spear the magnum opus of his literary career.
- The Quiet Light / La Luz Apacible: A stimulating historical novel about the great St. Thomas Aquinas, set against the violent background of the Italy of the Crusades. He tells the intriguing story of St. Thomas who – by taking a vow of poverty and joining the Dominicans – defied his illustrious, prominent family’s ambition for him to have great power in the Church.
- The Restless Flame / Corazón Inquieto: This is a stirring novel which deals reverently but realistically with the fascinating life and era of St. Augustine, one of the most remarkable men of all time.
Spirituality and Prayer Life
- Fire Within: Practical synthesis of the teachings on prayer of the two great doctors of the Church on prayer–St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila—and the teaching of Sacred Scripture.
- The Impact of God : St John of the Cross testifies to a God who longs to meet us in our deepest need. His poetry and prose reveal the beauty and power of a wondrous God. Great introductory book to read St. John of the Cross.
- Searching for and Maintaining Peace / La Paz Interior : Since peace of heart is a pure gift of God, it is something we should seek, pursue and ask him for without cease. This book is here to help us in that pursuit.
- Interior Freedom / La Libertad Interior : Even in the most unfavorable outward circumstances we possess within ourselves a space of freedom that nobody can take away
- Time for God / Tiempo para Dios: Are you too busy to pray? What if you could actually gain time and be more productive by praying? Would you pray more? Have you ever felt unsure about how to pray? For that matter, what exactly is prayer and who is it for? And where, when and how should you pray?
- Thirsting for Prayer: “What the world most needs today is prayer. It is prayer that will give birth to all the renewals, healings, deep and fruitful transformations we all want for society today…. I am more and more convinced that everything comes from prayer and that, among the calls of the Spirit, this is the first and most urgent one we should respond to.”
- Called to Life / Llamados a la Vida: How do I find fulfillment in life? How do I obtain happiness? How do I fully become a man or woman? The author explains that a complete and fulfilled life is much more assured when we stop trying to chart our own course, when we realize that we are essentially creatures called by God.
- The Soul of the Apostolate / El Alma de Todo Apostolado: In his classic work, 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. Inside you’ll learn about the: Pre-eminence of the Interior Life over the Active Life; Dangers of the Active Life: for you and your apostolate; The Devil’s special temptations for those working for Our Lord; Steps necessary in order to develop and grow in the Interior Life; Necessity of the Interior Life to a successful and spiritually fruitful apostolate.
- Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer / Gratitud, Corazón de la Plegaria: Want to be happy? Be grateful. Check out Steindl-Rast’s TED talk:
Sexuality and Theology of the Body
- Theology of the Body for Beginners: Based on the words of Jesus, John Paul II’s famous reflections on the body and sex take us to the root of the modern crisis and chart the path to an authentic sexual liberation. In his book, Christopher West provides a short and popular summary of the Pope’s revolutionary teaching. What is the meaning of life? Why did God create us male and female? Why is there evil in the world and how do we overcome it? How do we attain true happiness on earth? What kind of joys await us in heaven? How can we experience the love we long for in the depth of our hearts?
- Saber Amar con el Cuerpo: El autor propone adentrarnos en una etapa de desarrollo de la sexualidad que nos permita encontrar la felicidad que tan ardientemente buscamos, que permita a las mujeres y los hombres de nuestro tiempo encontrar la felicidad que tan ardientemente buscamos.
- Self-Esteem Without Selfishness: Increasing Our Capacity for Love / Amor y Autoestima: A lively sense of a Father who looks on us with delight and unconditional love, together with a fearless acceptance of our own wretchedness, is the key. Fr. Esparza teaches us how to cultivate that “humble self-esteem” which neither strays from the truth about the person nor fosters discouragement at our failures. Bringing together the best of classic spiritual wisdom and the insights of contemporary psychology, he distinguishes between self-esteem in the shallow, pop-psychology sense and the rightly ordered self-love that is anything but self-centered.
- Catholic Match Institute: Resources for choosing a right spouse, marriage preparation, marriage “building,” and for troubled marriages.
- Couple to Couple League, Natural Family Planning International and USCCB: Resources to learn and understand Natural Family Planning and related issues.
Resources for pornography and other addictions:
Your Brain on Porn website, and Book : This site will help you understand exactly how today’s extreme Internet porn can alter the brain. Armed with
that knowledge, you’ll realize that some primitive circuitry in your brain is just trying to do its job when it pushes you toward porn; and you’ll see how to outsmart it and restore your balance.
NoFap is here for all victims of pornography. Whether you have a porn addiction yourself or just need support as a partner, parent, or loved one of somebody struggling with pornography, our online community is here to support. NoFap Academy is their online program with one-on-one weekly support and video-based lessons.
Candeo provides online recovery programs for sexual addiction, depression & anxiety, and substance abuse.
Fortify: A Step Toward Recovery, it is a step toward ridding your life of pornography for good. Due to the fact that everyone’s recovery is unique and varies from individual to individual, the Fortify Program helps you create your own personal Battle Strategies so that you can overcome your struggle in a way that is perfect for you. Their program is offered for free for ages 13 to 20.
- A Simple, life changing prayer: what might happen if you discovered a simple prayer that changed all that? What if you discovered a prayer that changed you? Jim Manney introduces Christians to a 500-year-old form of prayer that dramatically altered his perception of prayer and the way he prayed. The prayer is the examen, which St. Ignatius Loyola developed for the purpose of nurturing a reflective habit of mind that is constantly attuned to God’s presence. By following five simple yet powerful steps for praying the examen, we can encounter the God who, as Scripture tells us, “is not far from each one of us”—the God whose presence in our lives can make all the difference in the world.
- The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living: This book is for all who desire greater awareness of God’s action in their daily spiritual lives, and is essential reading for retreat directors, spiritual directors, priests, and counselors.
- How to Discover Your Vocation: Marriage, Priesthood, Consecrated Life, Permanent Diaconate, Single Life: This booklet will help you to think and pray about your vocation and become clearer about where God is leading you. It answers many of the practical questions you may be asking: What are the different Christian vocations? How does God guide us and speak to us? How can I be more open to my vocation, and come to a decision? It explains the Christian vocations of marriage, priesthood, consecrated life, the permanent diaconate and the single life, and how you can know whether God might be calling you to one of them.
- To Save a Thousand Souls: A guide to discerning a vocation to the priesthood.
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