As seniors you have so many decisions to make about your future: ‘where am I going to go to college? What do I want to do with my life?’ Senior year, although fun, presents many challenges, especially in your faith life. You’ve probably been to countless Life Nights and retreats. You may feel like you’re not being challenged in your faith and could even be getting a little bored. I know: I’ve been there.
So what should you do? Make a choice. Are you willing to fight for your faith? If so, you have to take an active role in your own faith life. You have to do some work too. Here are a few books that have challenged me and given me something to reflect on and put into practice in my journey with God. Some of them are more challenging than others but I have faith and confidence that with God’s help you will be able to get through these books.
Here are five books I recommend for you seniors:
1. Back to Virtue by Peter Kreeft
Back to Virtue tackles the question of “where did all the morals go?” Although a bit challenging to read at times, Back to Virtue offers wisdom and wit in the way it approaches the problem of today’s culture. Peter Kreeft takes a deeper look at the Seven Deadly sins and how the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) restore each sin. This book helps us understand that as Christians we are not called to just be “nice” – we are called to be virtuous and holy. Pay close attention to the chapters on Faith, Hope, and Love (chapter 5) and pride and humility (chapter 7).
2. Redemptoris Custos: On the Person and Mission of Saint Joseph In the Life of Christ and of the Church by Pope John Paul II
Of the many papal documents I had to read in college, this one was my favorite. Short and to the point, Pope John Paul II beautifully reflects on the person of Saint Joseph and his role in Jesus’ life as well as the life of the Church. We learn of obedience, love, marriage, fatherhood, and humility through Saint Joseph’s example. This short apostolic exhortation is perfect for a holy hour of Eucharistic adoration. Not only will you be challenged by Pope John Paul II’s writing, you will also fall in love with Saint Joseph, head of the Holy Family, Patron of the Catholic Church.
3. Sword of the Spirit by Christopher Cuddy & Mark Hart
If you are ready to take the next step in studying Sacred Scripture, this book is for you. Sword of the Spirit takes you through the often confusing writings of St. Paul found in the New Testament, and breaks them open so that we can better understand what he meant. Sword of the Spirit examines the themes St. Paul conveyed to his different audiences and how they relate to us today. By the end of the book you will not only have a better understanding of St. Paul and Sacred Scripture; you will also have a better understanding of who God is and who you are in relation to God.
4. Dangerous Wonder by Mike Yaconelli
As an upperclassman, I needed a “pick-me-up” and a reminder of the joy of living my life for Christ. My youth minister recommended that I read this book and I am so glad that I did. Dangerous Wonder takes us back to those moments when we were kids and found pure joy and excitement in playing games and taking chances. Mike Yaconelli, a beloved Christian author, reminds us of Jesus’ command for faith like a child and how even today as young adults we must remain young at heart in our spiritual lives. This book is an easy read and you’ll find yourself being filled with a new sense of joy and faith by the time you finish.
5. Waking the Dead by John Eldredge
One of my favorite saint quotes comes from St. Irenaeus: “The Glory of God is man fully alive.” As a Christian I desire to become fully alive in Christ – both here on Earth and forever in heaven with Christ. Although not a Catholic book, Waking the Dead looks at the battle going on between eternal life and death in the battleground of your heart. This book helps us learn to protect our hearts and embrace true life in Christ—fully alive in His love.
I look forward to hearing what God is doing in your heart through these books. Please know that you remain in my prayers.