books2

I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas….I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously, with no scorn nor condescension.

W.E.B. Du Bois

So today, I have compiled for you a list of fiction works which I believe most strongly emphasize those universal themes which pertain to our humanity but especially Catholicism and Christianity.  For even if it is so that great works all emphasize universal themes, some focus on certain themes above others, and for that reason can be of greater benefit to the Catholic mind. 

So, without further ado, here are my list of six works of fiction every Catholic should read:

1.) The Lord of the Rings, By J.R.R. Tolkien

LOTRAn obvious one to put at the top. Written by a fervent Catholic, who was indeed raised by a priest, this work is full of Catholic themes. The main plot? An ordinary, weak hobbit, accompanied by an absolutely devoted friend, must cross through a land controlled by essentially a demon, to rid himself of a terrible burden could give the dark lord power, and threatens his morality, character, and sanity. One of the only things which gives him strength on this terrible journey is special white bread, which looks quite ordinary but which refreshes the Spirit, stiffens the body, and prepares one for a terrible struggle. Surely, there is a lesson in that for us all.


2.) The Father Brown Mysteries, by G.K. Chesterton.

Although written before his conversion to Catholicism, this work by the jolly genius of the 20th century will constantly invigorate the Catholic mind, as it sees even those aspects of it which look commonplace or dull revealed for the truly transcendental salvation which they hold.

Narnia

3.) The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis

Another classic of the Christian genre. More a commentary on the spiritual life than an actual work of fiction, it nevertheless has its own plot twists and cliffhangers, as we watch the soul of a young man hang in the balance.

4.) The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis

Little introduction is needed to such a popular work. Here, the themes of redemption, hope and wonder which characterize Christianity, and especially Catholicism, stand out so sharply that they would prick even the dullest mind and heart into an invigorating quest for the truth.


5.) The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

At this point the reader may be outraged at seeing C.S. Lewis three times and Chesterton and Tolkien only once. I admit, it is a terrible injustice. But C.S. Lewis has a clearness about his writing that makes him a good intro to the other two. This particular trilogy is a masterpiece, and is explicitly Christian in a way few books are.

les miserables6.) Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo

I am quite certain that not everyone will agree with me on this one. Victor Hugo had a noted anti-cleric streak, the book is very long, and often rambles about unrelated matters. Nevertheless, I feel it an important work to read. It is the story of ignorance falling into sin, of sin and harshness corrupting a good man, of his path down the road of evil being halted by the charitable act of a selfless priest. It is the story of a man who has sinned attempting to expiate his evil by a life of penance and selflessness. And it paints for us as a warning sign every vice which could tempt humanity, always in disapproving, yet such human terms. It is not an easy read, but it is well worth the trouble.

 


In future posts on this topic, look for historical fiction, some more modern books  and some books a trifle more in-depth . Until then, work on the books I’ve listed. If you have any suggestions for part two, tell me in the comments!

Henry B.

Written by Fire of The Spirit

Fire of the Spirit is a Catholic teen group devoted to the evangelization and awakening of Catholic teenagers everywhere, both in the beliefs of the Church and the importance of the world we live in. Our mission is to join with other like minded teens from all over the world and set the world ablaze with the love of Christ through inspiring and truth-filled media. For as Pope Francis states quite well, “Jesus teaches us another way. Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit”. At it’s core, this group is meant to be a refuge where people of all different backgrounds and lifestyles can come together in Catholic fellowship with the common goal of helping us all to become closer and more united with Christ and our faith. That is to say that this group believes the best way to help ourselves and others grow in faith is to engage actively together with each other; moreover, it is for this reason that our publications are promised to be "for teens by teens" and shall remain so forever more. "Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire" - St. Catherine of Siena

9 comments

  1. Nice Post Henry! I do disagree with you on Les Miserables, (Tried to read it. got 1000 pages in and gave up) I think something like The Man who was Thursday or Father Elijah. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m someone else who likes Father Elijah as well. Great stuff. 🙂

        Now, Henry, my dear sir, should we perhaps throw in the little tidbit that Les Miserables was on the Church’s Index of Forbidden Books until the late sixties? Granted, the Index isn’t binding anymore, but it could make for interesting discussion…

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      2. Oh, I’m sure. 🙂 But does anybody know why it was on the Index? I don’t, myself, and it would be interesting to figure out. I’m not saying we can’t read it or something. Many a good Catholic I know says its a favorite. I guess I’m just curious what the logic that got it on the Index was, and what people think of it.

        Research time. 😉

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      3. Well, I can’t promise anything, buuuuut…that’s a possibility! This could be interesting. Beware, though: I haven’t read the book.

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