Mmmm, mmm, meme……

Okay, so I just returned from a little trip with my husband, and found that my friends Joyce at the Little Way and Karin at Daughter of the King had each tagged me for the meme of my dreams:  to name my three favorite religious books – and I think it’s supposed to be especially “meme compliant,” if they happen to be available on kindle –  and then to choose five friends to do the same. 

Simple enough, right?  (BTW, Caroline, also tagged for this meme, did her homework and provides a great explanation of “meme” at her blog, Bell of the Wanderer.)

Back to the bookshelves.  My three favorites?  Are you kidding?   Are we all kidding?  The bloggers I know all read a staggering number of books….and that doesn’t even count the ones we’ve bought but haven’t yet had time to read….years later!  But we dream of a  future when life will be simple and quiet and peaceful and we’ll have time to read all the books we own.  Yeah, right!

Well, with dusty fingers, I now commit to the keyboard my three chosen favorites, although there really are at least three dozen!

From my cherished Therese collection, I chose the acclaimed biography by Guy Gaucher, OCD:  The Story of a Life:  St. Therese of Lisieux, (HarperSanFrancisco)

A Carmelite priest, and auxiliary bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux during the time he wrote The Story of a Life, Bishop Gaucher has written several books about Therese, and knows and loves her deeply.

This particular biography is masterfully written with interesting details of her life in the convent and of her extended family.  It includes many pictures of Therese at various stages of her life, and each chapter is sub-titled with a quotation from Therese:  Chapter 6, Novice, “He was humbled so that His face was hidden and no one recognized Him; and I too want to hide my face.”

I remember thumbing through this book at the book store and coming across a quotation from one of Therese’s blood sisters, who was also a nun in the same convent.  It was 1939, and she could see from her convent, the huge basilica which had been erected to honor her little sister, and she remarked how their mother used to visit the cemetery near the hill where the great white basilica housing an interior of pink and blue mosaics was now standing, and that if someone had told her mother then what had happened, she would surely have said, “You are off your head!”  I thought a book with such a delightful comment would be a good read.  And I was right.                                                         (Currently out of print, but good second-hand editions available for very reasonable prices.)

My second choice is the great spiritual classic,  The Ascent of Mt. Carmel by St. John of the Cross. (ICS Publications)
I studied this book while in formation for my final promises as a Secular Discalced Carmelite. In this book, John leads the soul, which has already set out on its quest for union with God, into the night of faith. He instructs the soul to travel by this darkness of faith because it is the safest and surest way to remain on the right path, not being distracted by consolations or asking for signs from God, but simply seeking God in the “nakedness” of faith. God is far beyond our senses, and His Light is so bright that the closer we come to Him, the deeper the darkness seems.

Reading this book was a great grace for me, and instilled within me a love for this journey without sight…a real preference for this way which is so safe, and demands absolute trust in God which is so pleasing to Him. It is comforting on the dry and desert places of the spiritual journey to simply rest in the promise of faith.

The Ascent of Mt. Carmel is something of a roadmap to holiness by this great mystic and Doctor of the Church. 
(Available on kindle)

My final choice is a little jewel called Secrets of the Interior Life by Archbishop Luis M. Martinez (Sophia Institute Press)
This gentle, easy to read book is filled with wisdom for contemplative souls struggling with dryness and desolation on the spiritual journey. It is very much like reading a series of letters from a most kind and wise spiritual director who can see right into your soul. He devotes several chapters to spiritual desolation, and gives great encouragement and advice for those who find themselves in this state…one which he calls, “..the chief difficulty by which most souls are held back..” One interesting chapter is titled: Three stages of sorrow which bring you closer to joy.

Archbishop Martinez (d.1956) of Mexico is described by those who knew him as philosopher, theologian, educator, sacred orator, writer, poet, director of souls, and mystic. All of these qualities are evident in this small but precious book.

“I know the heart of God. It cannot resist love. Even though He might wish to go, He would not do so if His spouses would detain Him, enchain Him, imprison Him with the irresistible bands of love. His justice impels Him to separate Himself from us. But since He loves us, He does not wish to go, and He Himself has enkindled His love in many souls in order that they might detain Him, that they might not let Him go. Oh, the tenderness of His love! Oh, the ingenious devices of His mercy! p. 224
(Available on Kindle)

And now I would like to invite the following five friends to join in the fun, and share with us their three favorite religious books.  So, let’s hear from you:  Anne at Imprisoned in My Bones, Noreen at Rosary Mom, Lisa at Daily Grace, Rebecca at A Solitary Bird, and Flos Domini, at Flos Domini.


20 thoughts on “Mmmm, mmm, meme……

    • Hi Anne! Yes, it’s almost an impossible meme! How do you choose…. I’m actually going through books today, putting some away, and bringing others downstairs, where I’ll be more likely to pick them up for a read. So many of them could have been among my choices. While perusing my bookshelves last night, I picked out three beautiful little paperbacks which I have had for years, but never read. One is St. Alphonsus Liguori on “Love is Prayer-Prayer is Love” based on excerpts from his writings. Another is “When Jesus Sleeps,” by Bishop Martinez, and again addressing spritual desolation. The third is “Descending Fire,” The Journal of a Soul Aflame. This one is entries from the journal of a holy French priest, who remains anonymous. He had experienced the Holy Spirit’s Love and Fire in his soul in a mystical way, and writes to communicate the intensity of God’s Love for us…..beyond all description! — Sophia Press.

      With all of our beloved books, I like to recall how St. John told us that if everything Jesus had said and done were written down, even the whole world would not be sufficient to hold all the books that would have to be written.

      I look forward to your selections, Anne. Yes, I rather thought Caryll Houselander would be on your list. : ) I ended up with her Way of the Cross by accident! I was downloading a “sample” chapter of another book to my kindle, and must have accidentally clicked on her Way of the Cross. I figured, why not? Lent is coming, so I’m sure I’ll make good use of it.

      Anne, always a joy to hear from you!

  1. Patricia…You did it! You decided on three…: ) One of these days I’m going to tackle, The Ascent of Mt Carmel..but as we’ve already decided that library table in heaven is where we’re going to finish what we longed to read here but ran out of time.
    I’m still deciding on what to read over Lent. I’ve narrowed it down to 2 …or 3.

    Our boys are still in my prayers.

    Hugs and +

    • I did! I did! : ) But it was so hard…as you know. So many wonderful books. Yes, I’m looking forward to that table we have reserved in Heaven. Just think, we’ll have time to read to our heart’s content. Sometimes, when I go to adoration and I’m all alone, I read a little bit to Jesus. Maybe He’ll read to us in Heaven. Can you imagine??

      I’m pulling books for Lent too…I think I’ll ask Jesus to choose, or else I’ll have too many and not finish anything.

      Oh yes! Prayers for our boys…always! I’ve been wanting to share that my son got engaged while I was on retreat! We are happy for them, but don’t know what is going to happen since they don’t go to Church, and my son doesn’t know what he believes. Yet, they are planning a Church wedding. I’m not sure if that will be possible under the circumstances. I can only hope and pray. I’m so grateful for your prayers as well. Thank you so much!

      Love and Joy,
      Patricia xo

      • That’s wonderful about your son, Patrica. You’ll have a daughter soon! I hope for that one day, too. Maybe the desire for the church wedding is the beginning. We’ll continue to pray.
        Love and +

        • Caroline, I’m so happy, yet so sorrowful at the same time. The joy is because they do love each other and get along so well….and yes, I would love a daughter! : )
          But they never go to Church, and sadly do live together. I have heard nothing about any of this changing before the wedding. My son lists himself as an “agnostic” on his Facebook page. So, I’m very confused at their planning a Church wedding with Mass under the circumstances. Yet, it would break my heart if they married outside the Church. All I know to do is pray. The wedding will be this summer, so there is time yet to find the right time to ask about this… I can’t imagine what the priest, etc., will do under the circumstances. Thank you so much for your much needed prayers.

          Love and thanks,

  2. Patricia,
    Thank you for tagging me too. This will be fun to do. So many books to choose from, it will be challenging as well. It is great having other friends out there with the same love for Carmel!

    • Hi Rebecca! I’m so happy that you are going to do the meme. It sounds like you are like most of my other blog friends….a lover of books. I think most Carmelites probably have quite a stash : )

      I’m really looking forward to reading your choices. I just love your blog. You are such an inspiration to me because it is obvious that you are deeply steeped in our Carmelite spirituality. I’m looking forward to spending as much time as I can reading your beautiful posts.

      Good luck with narrowing your choices to only three books…. : )


  3. Patricia, you write so beautifully. The quote you picked from your third book is a gem, and I want to read that one along with your other 2. I have the Ascent of Mt. Carmel and other works by St. John of the Cross but I haven’t started them yet. Thank you for visiting my site and always encouraging me with your prayers and love. You are in my thoughts and prayers too! Love, Colleen

    • Colleen, a big hug to you for your always kind and encouraging words. Thank you so much!
      I’m glad you liked the quote from Secrets of the Interior Life. Honestly, the whole book is a gem…and so is anything else I’ve read by Archbishop Martinez. He was surely a mystic, and has that fire of love accompanied by a great gentleness.
      I knew you would choose Consoling the Heart of Jesus as one of your three….and it is so beautiful. I will probably be reading excerpts during Lent.
      Colleen, my son got engaged while I was on retreat. It’s lovely, except that they never go to Church, but are still planning a Catholic wedding. I’m not sure how this is going to work! Right now I am just praying, as everything is still so new and exciting for them that it is the wrong time to ask any serious questions. Please pray for this intention. I would be most grateful!!!
      Love you,

      • Patricia, I will pray for this intention, which I think is the grace of conversion for both your son and his fiancé. Briefly I imagined one of my sons not going to church when he was older and that followed by a brief imaginary yell on my part, as in, “No!” I read your reply above to Caroline too. I can imagine your sadness at seeing agnostic. For some reason in college I kept running into “agnostic” boys. I enrolled in Philosophy of Religion classes to try to persuade them back. None of them taught an argument based on the experience of God in one’s soul, so I didn’t find what I had hoped to help them.
        A psychiatrist mom/friend at my church told me this is a frequent occurrence with later teens and younger 20s. Doesn’t matter how frequent it is I can imagine you wanting to confront you son, but at the same time here he is making the life decision where he is really beginning his adult life. How do you ensure he knows how important his seeking after God and being faithful to his Church without alienating him, which would also pain you?
        I will make a point of offering a rosary, praying with Mary tomorrow for you, your son, and that he and his fiancé would receive graces necessary to not just marry in the Church, but if God wills, to have the change of heart to know what a privilege it is to be married in the real presence of Our Savior. I’ll also pray for the priest that will be counseling them. May God give him a fresh anointing and may Our Lady intercede for all of you, that the priest or someone may be an instrument drawing your son and his girlfriend close to the heart of Jesus!
        Hugs and prayers! Love, Colleen

        • Oh Colleen, thank you so much for your concern and your comments and your prayers and your hugs! I am so deeply touched that you would offer a rosary for my son and his fiance’. They continue to plan this rather large Church wedding, and they are so excited about everything. It’s very hard, because although I am delighted for them, I still hold back because of the whole issue of their not practicing their faith. With my son, it is so hard, because he doesn’t argue with you about God; it’s more that he really isn’t interested….which to me is worse! Yesterday, I came across a paper he wrote for highschool religion class, and he very honestly wrote that he really didn’t pray, except at Mass (he was going with us then). Essentially, he wrote that he had no real relationship with God. It broke my heart to read it again, after all these years. He is 33 now. As you might guess, he was brought up in a Catholic home, attended Catholic schools, etc. As a child, he was interested in God. But as a teen, he became rebellious and rejected God along with many other values he had been taught. I only alienate him when I bring up the subject. So, I’m praying that God will put someone else in his path.

          Thank you for caring, Colleen. This should be such a joyful time for our family, but instead it’s somewhat confusing. Your prayers are cherished by my heart. God bless you for your kindness, my dear friend.

          Love and hugs to you,
          Patricia xo

          • God Bless you for your kindness, Patricia. I love your heart, your open show of love! Do you know God took you up on that request to bless me? As soon as I started praying the rosary for you, your son, his fiancé, your husband, his fiancé’s family I was overwhelmed with such a wonderful feeling of consolation. I was not praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament at the time, but instead was at a softball clinic for my high school daughter, in a warehouse setting, sitting right in the midst of several other parents with my rosary bracelet in one hand, a radio with a Sports Channel to close to my ear behind me, and my spiritual rosary book in my other hand. I prayed one set of mysteries for your intentions. Then I took a short break and prayed another one for people in my family and for my marriage. I’m not a 10 decade prayerer but the Holy Spirit was encouraging me. I so identify with how much of a disappointment and trial this would be. May all your favorite saints intercede for you too, and St. Monica too! God Bless You! I should email you my mobile # so you can text or call me when you need prayer. Seemed like the Holy Spirit was letting me know this was good that I was praying for you.
            Love and prayers, Colleen

          • Colleen, you are so precious! Thank you with all of my heart for offering that rosary for our family…how thoughtful and generous of you! I’m not surprised that God sent you a beautiful consolation for your generous act of charity and compassion. In thanksgiving, I am going to offer my next holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament for your intentions. Also, what a great witness you were…praying the rosary right out there in the open among the other parents. WTG!

            Yesterday, I learned that my son and his bride to be will not be having a Nuptial Mass…just the marriage ceremony. On one hand, my heart sank…not to have a Mass! Then a part of me thought that it will be for the best if they don’t reconcile with the Church before the wedding. I am just praying that God will send someone who can reach them in a way that their hearts will be open. They haven’t talked to the priest yet, so I’m anxious to hear what he will say.

            My future daughter-in-law is such a sweet young lady. She is so loving and has a big heart and I know she prays in her own way. I honestly don’t think she realizes that they should be reconciled etc., before receiving the Sacrament. Oh dear! I just keep praying.

            You are so sweet to offer your cell number. I’ll email you from my main email account, which is different from my blog email…which I don’t check as often. : )
            Thank you so much for your loving support in all of this, Colleen. You are a wonderful friend!

            Love you,
            Patricia xo

  4. Patricia, I’ve been unable to find your email address. I think you can find mine through my comments or through my blogger profile. A whole holy hour of adoration for my intentions is a lot of gratitude! I welcome the prayers but I don’t want Jesus jealous :). I guess that wouldn’t be possible since you are still there adoring HIM! I am overwhelmed and happy at the thought! Please remember my son who has ADHD and is really struggling . . . D- on last Pre-Algebra test and email from teacher that his homework isn’t getting turned in, and also for the intention of grace of conversion for my husband would be great. I’ve been struggling lately too so if you pray with our Lady for her intentions for me and my family, I know that will be just what we need!
    I might be taking my son into a neurologist behind my husbands’s back soon to get a diagnosis and maybe the lightest dose of meds as this is very hard for him day after day. His intentions are right, but he is losing the daily battles to get his work done.
    You are a good friend! God has again showered us with his blessings to have orchestrated us as intercessors for the each other and for our families. Grateful to have you as a friend and sister in Christ! Love, Colleen

    • No email address? Oh my! I guess that explains why I never hear from anybody except through comments : ) I get the email address of anyone who leaves a comment on my blog, and I assumed it was the same with blogger. I guess I need to post an email address on my profile page. Thanks for letting me know.

      I’m going to email you from my main email address…the one I check often.

      Colleen, I will certainly pray for your son, and all of your intentions. Jesus won’t be jealous…He loves us to pray for one another : )

      My heart goes out to you dealing with the ADHD problem. I went through it too, and it can be devastating. Have you tried any natural remedies like DHA fish oil and phosolipids? I find the DHA calms me down noticeably. Do you have any doctors who practice integrative medicine in your area…where they combine traditional medicine with other natural approaches like supplements and relaxation techniques, etc. I hate the ADHD meds. I know they are necessary sometimes though. I just hope you can find the help you need. The worst thing about ADHD was the effect it had on my son’s self-esteem, once he entered school. He was always punished for talking out of turn, etc. I even pulled him out and did homeschooling for 6th and 7th grade, because it was getting so bad. I hope you can find some answers.

      I’m a bit sad today. I’ll explain in email. Please keep me in your prayers. I proabably won’t email till tomorrow, as I’m feeling pretty down right now. I just want to pray, and spend some time with my husband. Please continue prayers for my son and his fiance’

      You are a good friend and sister too, dear Colleen. I’m so grateful that God brought us together. Thank you for your warm friendship.

      Love and prayers,
      patricia xo

  5. Patricia, I’ll pray for you tonight again. Sorry you are feeling sad. Looking forward to hearing from you in email. Peace and love to you! I am reading The Secret Diary of Elizabeth Leseur today, finally! Only a few pages read and i have an equal number of pages of notes, but with larger font of course. Part of her personal philosophy I really love, and another part, I’m not so sure about—never arguing, never discussing faith or reason for belief, but only evangelizing by example. I’m thinking part of that is why I have St. Catherine of Alexandria as my patron from Karinann’s process. She certainly was effective evangelizing with words too! Have a peaceful and blessed night with your husband and praying with our Lord! I regretted that jealous comment…sometimes my humor turns off the path and these bloggy comments are an all or nothing proposition–delete it all and redo . . . and I was banking on you know it was just a bad attempt at humor. The Secret Diary is so relevant for both your and my circumstances though, written by someone aching and begging God for the grace of conversion for those souls around her she loves most. Wonder if you haven’t read it, maybe you would like to read it with me?

    • Hi Colleen! Thank you so much for your prayers! My holy hour for you is tomorrow at 4-5pm (CST), in case you want to remember your intentions or pray along with me, if you can. Oh, I knew you were joking! : ) I was sort of joking back with you.

      I actually have Elizabeth Lesuer’s book…bought it about 15 years ago and have never read it. I started, it, but couldn’t get into it at the time. I often find that certain books are meant for certain periods in our lives. So, I’ll get it out, and try to read along with you. I’ll start tomorrow. I’ve heard alot about the book on various blogs…seems very popular now. For sure, I need some encouragement about praying for conversions.

      I laughed about all your notes…good for you! Colleen, YOU need to write your own book : )
      Everytime I visit your blog, I notice St. Catherine of Alexandria, and I always think she looks like someone perfect for how you seem to me, and I always intend to go look her up and find out more about her.

      Thanks for the email. I’m so glad you alerted me that people didn’t have my email…just because I commented on their blogs. Hey, what do I know about how all this works! I’ll be in touch. God bless

      Love u,

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