Over the decades I have found some spiritual books more helpful than others. Over ten years ago, someone said that they did not think I have studied enough of Ascetical Theology, which is simply studying how to follow the Holy Ghost in directing others to sanctity. Since the Pope is ex officio (from his office) a Spiritual Director and diocesan Bishops have taken the direction of some of their flock on personally, a thorough knowledge of Ascetical Theology is essential. When I began my study decades ago, books were scarce and hard to find. I can remember my joy in 1995, when I found that someone had brought Saint Alphonsus Ligouri’s back into print. I ordered all that were available and slowly began to read them and take them to heart.
So let us return to the question: “Have I studied enough Ascetical Theology.” I decided to ask this question about twelve years ago and went to the library and pulled off books that I had read on the subject. I had a list of thirty within an hour and it expanded to forty within twenty four hours. Have I read enough? No, because I am alive. And so to some of my suggestions
In the spiritual life there are levels. Sometimes I will go back and read entry level material, and this is good. Sometimes simple is better than deep. In any case, if you pick up a book and it does not speak to your heart, put it away and go elsewhere, because the Holy Ghost may just be telling you, that you do not need to go here.
The Art of Prayer
Spiritual Maxims by Nicholaus Grou
Directorium Asceticum (four volumes) Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3 Volume 4
The Spiritual Life by Tanquerey. This is a manual for Spiritual Directors, that is pastors and other priests who are approved to hear Confessions.