Now that it’s well into summer you’re starting to pass from the “Yes! I don’t have to go to school!” phase into the “Wow, I’m really bored” phase. It’s a great time to start digging a bit deeper into the Catholic faith, to start growing more in your knowledge and love of God. So here’s a list of some awesome books to get you started.
- Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints by Colleen Swaim
So your youth minister told you about the universal call to holiness and you thought to yourself, “Sounds great. But I can’t be a saint now, can I? That sounds like something to do when I have more time, like after college, right?”
Wrong. First of all, there is no time after college (I wish!) and secondly, yes, you are called to be a saint now! And Ablaze gives you eight examples of saints who lived this call to holiness while they were young. It includes pictures, prayers, “saintly challenges” and helpful tidbits, like maps and definitions (finally, I know what a postulant is!). Read this book and become inspired to start practicing the virtues and walking the road toward sanctity now.
- YOUCAT: Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church
If you’ve wanted to learn more about the Church’s teachings, but were afraid to pick up the Catechism because it’s full of big words, tiny footnotes and a weird numbering system, then fear no more!
YOUCAT gives you all the goodness of the Catechism in a more readable question and answer format. It answers questions like “Faith—what is it?” (Question #21), “What happens if you don’t feel anything when you pray?” (508), “Why isn’t the Church a democracy?” (140), and “What is the Church’s judgment on artificial fertilization?” (423).
It’s also filled with loads of extras like Bible passages; definitions; quotes from the saints, popes, and others; color photos; and stick figure pictures of everything from a wedding to the Stations of the Cross. You can read through it in bite-sized chunks to learn more about the faith, sacraments, prayer, and social teaching—thoroughly impressing everyone at your youth group.
- You Can Understand the Bible by Peter Kreeft
Reading the Bible can be hard. It’s a big book with thin pages and if you start at the beginning you’re bound to get bogged down in Leviticus (trust me).
It helps to have a road map, so you know what’s going on in each book of the Bible—like who the prophets were talking too, or why Paul had to write two letters to the Corinthians. This book explains all that and more. An easy read (I first read it at the beach), each chapter gives an overview of a book of the Bible, and connects the Bible stories to our Catholic beliefs and how we should live out our Christianity today. Because that’s what reading the Bible is all about—listening the Word of God so that we change our lives to be more like Jesus’.
- The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Okay, so Lewis wasn’t Catholic (he was Anglican) but his writings on Christianity are so good that Catholics quote him all the time (he’s all over the YOUCAT). You probably know him as the guy who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia.
This book is a series of letters from one devil to another—Screwtape advising his “nephew” on how to tempt an average man who lives in England during World War 2. Screwtape writes how best to tempt their “patient” into discord with his mother, unchastity, and out of prayer.
He also breaks down into some hilarious fits as he tries to figure out what God ‘s real purpose is—because “all His talk about Love must be a disguise for something else,” right? This is an amusing book and a humbling reminder that it’s just as important to watch out for the “everyday sins” as it is for the big ones.
- John Paul 2 High series by Christian M. Frank
The only problem I have with teen fiction books is that characters are never quite like my friends and me—they don’t go to Church, pray the rosary, or get into arguments about when the Christmas season is officially over.
Which is why I love the John Paul 2 High series, because these characters do. The series follows a group of Catholic teenagers as they deal with school, dating, forgiveness, and questions of the faith. The story has an action streak in it too; part of the plot revolves around a school shooter.
Teen fiction is about everyday problems, and these characters have ones that are specific to Catholic life, like loving your enemies, understanding why we go to Church, and believing in God.
- Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel
What does it mean to be Catholic?
George Weigel (Pope John Paul II’s biographer) thinks that it’s more than just praying every day and going to church, that there’s also some sort of internal way of looking at the life and the world that’s different.
To explain this Weigel takes his reader on a tour of the Catholic world, from his home parish in Maryland to the Sistine Chapel, from Mt. Sinai to a London pub. Each “letter” describes a place, a piece of history or a Catholic figure, and some aspect of Catholic life—why we pray, Mary and discipleship, what we can learn from beauty. They show the impact of Catholicism throughout history and the world, and are a good introduction to notable Catholic saints and thinkers.
- If You Really Loved Me: 100 Questions on Dating, Relationships, and Sexual Purity by Jason Evert
When it comes to sexual morality the Catholic Church has some very specific opinions. But have you ever wondered why the Church teaches what it does? In this book Jason Evert explains the why behind teachings on premarital sex, contraception, cohabitating, pornography and more.
Read this book to get a deeper understanding of what love and chastity really are, and how God’s plan for human sexuality will leave us happy and fulfilled. It also gives answers to practical question you might have, like how far is too far, how to start over, and how to stay pure. Living purity isn’t easy, and this book gives you facts and information you can use to explain your beliefs to your skeptical friends.
So there you have it. A list of seven books to educate, entertain, and enrich your faith life. Happy reading!