Here are a few books that have helped my friends and me in our discernment. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list – I only recommend these few because they are especially helpful.
Books I’d recommend to anyone who’s discerning
- And You Are Christ’s: The Charism of Virginity and the Celibate Life by Fr. Thomas Dubay, SM — examines the significance of celibacy as a spiritual gift (or “charism”) lived out by men and women with supernatural vocations. Particularly helpful for women.
- The Discernment of Spirits and Spiritual Consolation by Fr. Timothy M. Gallagher, OMV — a crash course in Ignatian discernment (in two volumes), not only useful for discerning one’s vocation but also for gaining a greater awareness of the way in which even the small choices we make daily impact our spiritual growth.
- The Meaning of Vocation by Pope John Paul II (no longer available on Amazon)— a compilation of quotes by the Holy Father about vocation. A great place to start, and it’s only $2.99!
- Virginity: A Positive Approach to Celibacy for the Sake of the Kingdom of Heaven by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap — beautiful meditations on the spiritual reality of celibacy, with an emphasis on the unique gift of consecrating one’s virginity for the sake of the Kingdom.
- When God Asks for an Undivided Heart: Choosing Celibacy in Love and Freedom by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR — answers many practical questions about celibacy. A great resource for parents who are struggling to understand/accept their child’s vocation.
Books About Religious/Consecrated Life
- Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom by Fr. Thomas Dubay, SM — takes a look at how evangelical poverty is lived out not only in religious life, but in all vocations. Includes an examen geared toward helping the reader begin practicing a “factual frugality” in conformity with the Gospel.
- Ordo Virginum Volume One: An Introduction to the Vocation of Consecrated Virginity Lived in the World published by the United States Association of Consecrated Virgins — the first of a series of books by the USACV on the vocation of consecrated virginity
- Religious Vocation: An Unnecessary Mystery by Fr. Richard Butler, OP — draws on the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas to explain why the religious life is an open invitation to all generous souls who are disposed to accept it (in cases where no serious impediments are present). A must-read!
Books About the Priesthood
- Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination by Pope John Paul II – the Holy Father’s personal reflections on his vocation as well as a heartfelt message to priests and seminarians.
- The Joy of Being a Priest: Following the Curé of Ars by Cristoph Cardinal Schönborn
- Many Are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood by Scott Hahn
- A Priest Forever: The Life of Father Eugene Hamilton by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR — the inspiring biography of a modern-day saint, a young man who was diagnosed with terminal cancer as a seminarian and ordained a priest, by a special papal dispensation, just hours before his death.
- The Priest Is Not His Own by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen — a classic meditation on the priesthood from one of the greatest preachers of our time!
- Priests for the Third Millennium by Archbishop Timothy Dolan
- The Sacred Heart and the Priesthood by Mother Louise Margaret Claret De La Touche – particularly helpful not only as spiritual reading for priests and seminarians, but also for women who feel called to intercessory prayer (spiritual motherhood) for priests.
- To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide to Discerning a Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood by Fr. Brett A. Brannen – This is the book our Vocations Director uses to guide the discussions of the Young Men’s Discernment Group, so I know it has to be good!
Books for Children
- Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told by a Cat by Jeanne Perego
- Lolek: The Boy Who Became Pope John Paul II by Mary H. Hoffman and Mark Hoffman
- The Monk Who Grew Prayer by Claire Brandenberg
- Where Do Priests Come From? by Elizabeth Ficocelli
- Where Do Sisters Come From? by Elizabeth Ficocelli