Catholic Evangelism Media Index
By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics
Former Instructor St. John's University, New York City

Letter for suggesting five spiritual classics to public libraries

You can cut and paste the letter below into your word processor, make a few changes like adding your name and a current date, and then turn it into your librarian. There is a fair chance they will act on it and include several or perhaps all into the collection, but be patient, libraries move slowly. Just submit the letter and check every once in a while to see if the books have shown up.

I can not submit the suggestions for you, because the suggestion must be made by a local resident.

You might want to start by checking to see which of the books is already in your library collection. If it is not a big library it probably will not have any of them. Here is a list of the books so you can check them.

  1. The Story of A Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux
  2. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempas
  3. Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross
  4. Interior Castle by St Theresa of Avila
  5. Autobiography of St. Theresa of Avila
  6. Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis De Sales

If the library already has any one of these you can always cut the relevant paragraph.

To transfer the letter to your word processor first mark and copy the text and then paste it into your word processor.

Then you will need to add a date at the top of the page, and perhaps your address. Also add your name, and perhaps phone number at the bottom.

If they already have one of the books you can cut the relevant paragraph and you should be ready to turn it in to the library, or mail it if you prefer.

Dear Librarian:

There are several spiritual classics that should be added to the collection. These books have all been around for more than a century but are popular. Like the classics in the fiction section these books will circulate steadily for many years to come.

The Catholic Church has declared all of the writers except Thomas a Kempas to be "Doctors of the Church." This honor has only been given to thirty three people and might be thought of like a Nobel Prize except that on average only one person wins the prize every sixty years. All of the works here are specially recommended in Father John Hardon's Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan. Finally, Richard Bruce has checked the sales ranking of all of these books on April 30, 2001 on

Story of a Soul maybe the most popular spiritual book ever written by a woman. It ranked 6585 on Pope Pius said that St. Theresa of Lisieux was the greatest saint of modern times. That was over 75 years ago and she is still the most popular modern saint. When her relics toured the United States large crowds came out to see them. Mother Teresa of Calcutta took the name Teresa in honor of Teresa of Lisieux. Teresa of Lisieux's fame is based almost exclusively on her autobiography, Story of a Soul.

Father John Hardon S.J. a famous Catholic scholar claimed that The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempas is "the best-loved and most widely read religious book in the world, after the Bible," Apparently Father Hardon forgot the Koran. The Imitation of Christ is listed in the current Standard Public Library Catalog. There are several editions that are very high on The three most popular versions ranked, 12,860, 13,258, and 36,258. Three versions in the top 50,000!

Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross, is so famous that the title has become part of our language. Dark Night of the Soul is widely recognized as one of the greatest of all the spiritual classics. The most popular version was ranked at 4,724 on

Interior Castle the masterwork of St. Theresa of Avila is one of the greatest spiritual works ever written. St. Theresa of Avila is a doctor of the Catholic Church. St. Theresa of Avila is also the subject of one of the ten or twenty most famous statues in the world, you may remember the statue of an Angel piercing her heart with a spear. Interior Castle was ranked at 10,047 on

The Autobiography of St. Theresa of Avila is even more popular with one version at 6,584 and another at 49,500 on Amazon. This is also recognized as a classic.

Finally let me recommend Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis De Sales. While many of the other spiritual classics were written for priests and religious, this book is written for the laity. The subject is living a spiritual life while engaged in an ordinary lay person's life. Introduction to the Devout Life was at 6,742 on

All of these classics discuss spirituality. Many are commonly read by people outside the Catholic Church. They are not controversial.

Most libraries have Catholic classics like The Confessions of St. Augustine or Dante's Divine Comedy. These books are perhaps even more popular and equally classic. Furthermore most libraries have classics like War and Peace and A Tale of Two Cities why not have these equally popular classics too?


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