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The Impact of Classical & Catholic Literature on My Spiritual Life

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These are the top Classical and Catholic books that really inspired or transformed me. They are what led me to the wonderful world of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.

Books hold such an important part in our lives that it was really hard to narrow the choices down. But I thought over this for a little while and to keep this post simple, decided to make this just top five books that have held the biggest impact in my life.

However, a few honorable mentions may sneak their way into this post. 😅

holding a stack of books.

There are so many books out there that are listed as “the classics” that everyone must read. But I disagree with a lot of these lists.

Many of them are indeed classical and have been around for a long time. However, not all of them are good & wholesome either. Many times, I’ve sat down with one of these classics only to throw it out for it’s immorality or anti-Catholic bias. Has this happened to you too?

Prior to Vatican 2, there was the Index of Forbidden Books and even the League of Decency (for movies) to help Catholics stay away from objectionable material. But after these were removed in the 1960’s, Traditional Catholics are left without proper guidance.

All of this to say, just because a popular book list deems something as a must-read, we have to be careful that we are choosing those that what will really lead us to Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.

For us as Catholics that is Union with God.

My book list is a little bit of what inspired me towards a love of reading. And what I find helpful in learning to become a great lover of God – not just a deep thinker.

Classic Books that Transformed me

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

This is the book that started it all for. Although, not my favorite Jane Austen book, it is the first classic novel that I read.

I fell in love with the rich, beautiful language. This led me on a journey toward reading more classics.

Who doesn’t love the the irony and wit of Austen’s writing? And Pride and Prejudice is often the starting place to hook a reader into the love of her writing.

My actual favorite Jane Austen novels

Persuasion is hands down my favorite Austen novel. I remember the first time that I read it and absolutely melted while reading Wentworth’s letter to Anne. 🥰

The wit and sarcasm of Austen really shine in Northanger Abbey. My second favorite of her books. I find myself turning to this book anytime I want a fun & comedic read.

What is your favorite Austen?

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Once I read, the Narnia series as an adult (because I had never heard of them as a child!! 😭), it was basically game over. I entered the classical world and there was no looking back. I entered through the Wardrobe and fully immersed myself into this new world of delight.

It captivated me and awakened a new sense of wonder. Truthfully, until then, I had never yearned for Christ as much as I did until after I read the Narnia series.

Not exaggerating. This sense of wonder has deepened my spiritual life and led me on a journey towards Truth, Beauty, Goodness.

And I’m definitely of the camp that believes there is a proper reading order of Narnia. For reference, I wholeheartedly believe that it should start with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. You must enter the wardrobe with sweet Lucy to awaken this sense of wonder with her.

From here, continue the journey in the original publication order and follow the Pevensie children in this way:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe > Prince Caspian > The Voyage of the Dawn Treader > The Silver Chair > The Horse and His Boy > The Magician’s Nephew > The Last Battle.

In recent years, publishers rearranged the novels chronologically and starts off with the Magician’s Nephew. Although it is a great book, I don’t think it has the same effect or is the best place to start when entering the world of Narnia!

Spiritual Reading

Union with God (according to St. John of the Cross) by Fr. Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD

If you are looking to deepen your spiritual life, I highly recommend this classic. Although, I never give out spiritual advice (that is between you and your priest 😊), I do think that this is a must read for all aspiring to a deep union with God following the teachings of St. John of the Cross.

Over the years, Fr. Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen has become one of my top 5 favorite spiritual writers! But I am slightly partial to the Traditional Carmelites.

The Way of Divine Love by Sister Josefa Menedez

If you want a deeper insight into the Heart of Our Lord, His love, and the value of souls — this is a must read. I find myself reading through this book slowly throughout the year.

I think it is one of the classics that needs to be read and re-read often to awaken a deeper love of God and the mysteries of His Sacred Heart.

Our Lord told Sister Josefa: “My words will be light and life for an incalculable number of souls, and I will grant them special graces of conversion and enlightenment.”

God Within Us by Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.

Another vintage classic & another of my favorite spiritual authors that I turn to many times — at least once per year! This is known as the most popular of all Father Plus’ works.

This book explains an often forgotten doctrine of faith — the Divine Indwelling of the Holy God living in the soul in sanctifying grace.

My vintage copy has an imprimatur of 1924, but I’ve found a free copy on Internet Archive.

Of course I have a few more honorable mentions. It was really hard to narrow this list down. And I’m not even including the classics from St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, additional C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc — because those are also must reads in my opinion.

But they are a bit more advanced for those who have been immersed in the world of classics for some time. And if you’re brand new to classical reading, it can be a little intimidating. Personally, I could not open many of these works until recent years.

Maybe I will cover some of these additional book lists in the future.

Honorable Mentions

Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD

Another personal favorite of mine. Divine Intimacy is a classic book of daily meditations following the traditional liturgical year and is full of Carmelite spirituality.

They help lead the soul to Union with God and Divine Intimacy, and help the soul to enter the conscious presence of God.

The Story of a Soul by St Therese of Lisieux

St Therese has been my personal favorite and patron ever since my youth. In fact, I chose her as my Confirmation name & special patron. She has inspired my love the Carmelite spirituality.

This classic is definitely worth visiting often. I try to read it once per year and always find new inspiration from her beautiful poetic writing.

I recently ordered this beautiful deluxe edition for our home library. If you are ordering from TAN Books use code: JoyfullyDomestic15 for 15% OFF!

The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

When I was thinking of good classic books that are full of wisdom and also wholesome, I knew that I needed to share The Little House on the Prairie Series.

These are beloved by the entire family and we read them periodically as Sunday family reads. We’ve read them so often that we’ve had to replace many copies in our home! Little House in the Big Woods & Farmer Boy are actually missing from this image because my children are currently reading them (again)! 🫶

If you’re new to the Little House on the Prairie series, read them in this order (not in the order my children have them on their bookshelf):

Little House in the Big Woods > Farmer Boy > Little House on the Prairie > On the Banks of Plum Creek > By the Shores of Silver Lake > The Long Winter > Little Town on the Prairie > These Happy Golden Years > The First Four Years

✨ Now it’s your turn! I would love to know about books that you found transformational and wholesome! Or what led you into the Classical World?

Comment below and share with all of us! ⬇️

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