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Devotional Readings - Classics

To Be A Pilgrim  by Basil Hume

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis

Surprised By Joy     by C.S.Lewis

Every so often it is a joy to rediscover a book and to find out more about someone. This pleasure came while re-reading Surprised by Joy by C S Lewis. While not an autobiography in the classic sense it takes us from Lewis’s childhood in Ireland to his loss of faith as a teenager and his being surprised by joy while on the back of his brothers motorcycle on the way to the zoo. While most people know of C S Lewis because of the Narnia chronicles and the movie Shadowlands there are hidden depths to one of the Twentieth Centuries greatest Christian figures. Surprised by Joy is a great introduction to the man who was C S Lewis.   First published 1955

Revelations of Divine Love: Mother Julian of Norwich Edited by Halcyon Backhouse & Rhona Pipe

Thomas Traherne: Poetry and Prose Selected and Introduced by Denise Ing

Denise Inge introduces a selection from Thomas Traherne's writing in this, the third volume in this series on seventeenth century spiritual writers. This volume will contain some biographical detail and historical context, the story of the discovery of his work as well as a discussion of its literary and spiritual power. The main body of the anthology will cover both well known works such as a selection from the Centuries and also excerpts from newer discoveries, including a recent find from Lambeth Palace Library. Thomas Traherne 1636?-1674 was schooled at Brasenose College, Oxford, was ordainded and served in the village of Credenhill, Herefordshire. 

Crossing the Threshold of Hope          by His Holiness John Paul II

Fifteen years into his Papacy, and on the eve of the third millennium, Pope John Paul II goes to the heart of his personal beliefs and speaks with passion about the existence of God; about pain, suffering, and evil; about "salvation"; and about the relationship of Catholicism to other branches of the Christian faith. With the humility and generosity of spirit for which he is well known, John Paul speaks forthrightly to all people. 

Early Christian Fathers - A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St Clement of Rome to St Athanasius     edited by Henry Bettenson

There is now a wide and growing appreciation of the value and relevance of the writings of the Fathers of the early Church, even for non-academic readers, and particularly for all who wish to understand Christian doctrine. The authors represented in the volume, first published in 1956, are the principal writers of the Church in the Roman Empire from the period immediately after the New Testament down to the age of Constantine and the council of Nicaea (AD 325). They include St Ignatius of Antioch, St Justin, Tertullian, St Irenaeus, St Clement of Alexandra, Origen, St Cyprian, and St Athanasius. Bettenson has selected passages to display as fully as possible the thought of the early Fathers, especially on the great doctrinal themes, and has himself translated them afresh, with brief annotation where necessary. 


Christian Classics In Modern English:-

Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence retold by David Winter

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis retold by Bernard Bangley

The Confessions of St Augustine retold by David Winter

Practice of the Presence of God  - Brother Lawrence is one of the most admired and imitated sons of the Catholic church. He worked for a time as a soldier before entering the Discalced Carmelite Prior in Paris. Lawrence was uneducated, and so had to enter the monastery as a layman. He worked in the kitchens and as a cobbler there for the remainder of his life. Lawrence is known for his devotion and ability to bring God into every aspect of his life. His classic Christian work, Practice of the Presence of God, details how to gain that constant and comforting connection to God. Readers have treasured this short and easy book for centuries because of Lawrence's honest advice and his obvious passion for spiritual matters. He rejoiced in everyday tasks, prayed constantly, and was known around the monastery for his kindness and willingness to help others. Practice of the Presence of God is a creative Christian work that is required reading according to many believers. Readers will come away with great peace and joy, and a better understanding of what it means to constantly be in God's presence. 

Imitation of Christ - was first composed in Latin1418-1427, it is perhaps the most widely read devotional work next to the Bible and is regarded as a devotional and religious classic.Apart from the Bible, no book has been translated into more languages .The text is divided into four books, which provide detailed spiritual instructions: "Helpful Counsels of the Spiritual Life", "Directives for the Interior Life", "On Interior Consolation" and "On the Blessed Sacrament".

The approach taken in the Imitation is characterized by its emphasis on the interior life and withdrawal from the world, as opposed to an active imitation of Christ by other friars. The book places a high level of emphasis on the devotion to the Eucharist as key element of spiritual life.

Confessions of St Augustine - Confessions is perhaps the most important spiritual autobiography of all: it chronicles Saint Augustine's wild, dissonant youth and subsequent conversion to Christianity, as well as providing significant divine and philosophical insight. Best-selling author, Fr Benignus O'Rourke, provides a new and luminescent translation of Confessions, his beautiful and eloquent prose shedding new light on the various shades of meaning in Saint Augustine's meditations and stories. Each book is prefaced with an introduction providing further accessibility and depth of understanding to the seminal work. 

Indelible Ink - 22 International Christian Writers Discuss the Books that Shape Their Faith         Compiled by Scott Larsen

Twenty two writers with many differing experiences have written of their lives and about books that have brought them to a deeper understanding of their faith. I would willingly write an appreciation of each of those twenty two pieces, and of the Appendix containing many other’s choices too. Suffice it to say that I spent a lot of time with this book and shall do again. I shall never be able to read everything they write so eloquently about, but I shall be looking for a number of the titles that have meant so much to them, and I shall be surprised if you don’t too!

The Read of My Life         by Various Authors

‘Following the success of Indelible Ink, 15 prominent Christians discuss the books that impact their lives’
This book takes some reading as each piece is thought provoking and makes you want to read or re-read the books the contributors are talking about. The result is a very special collection of inspiring writings that are enjoyable reading but so much more. If you have read Indelible Ink you will want to read this; if not you will need to read them both!

Heaven a Dance – An Evelyn Underhill Anthology                         Compiled by Brenda & Stuart Blanch

 A collection of retreat addresses, letters and poems, chosen from the works of Evelyn Underhill. The editors seek to bring out her remarkable qualities of insight and vision as both mystic and teacher.                   Publisher note

Christianity Rediscovered - An Epistle from the Masai      by Vincent J Donovan                                                           

This profound and thought-provoking book is one of the classics of modern missionary writing. Superficially just a good missionary story, about how one man brought a number of groups of Masai people in East Africa to Christian faith, it is something much more than that. For in what the author says about the method and content of evangelism; the meaning of the Eucharist; and the nature of ministry, we are led back to the question of our understanding of the mission of the church in all its contexts. For Donovan, his experiences in Africa meant a total reappraisal of the meaning of his faith, and therefore a rediscovery of his Christianity. His book, which is written with moving simplicity, continues to represent a provocative challenge to all those engaged in issues of evangelism and multiculturalism. 


The Cloud of Unknowing for Everyone         by Elizabeth Ruth Obbard

This is a classic made accessible to us all. I could have skimmed through this slim volume in one evening, but would have missed the whole purpose of this book. Instead, I took a chapter at a time, sometimes indeed, going back over a chapter or chapters. The illustrations seem simple but I found value in thinking deeply about their message. Written by a priest, probably a member of a religious order in the fourteenth century, it became a classic loved through the following generations. Elizabeth Obbard has brought it to the average person in the pew, maybe put off by the term classic. Easy to read, easy to understand this is a book to keep beside you and learn from continually.

Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, Edited by Rhona Pipe

The Author's Apology for his book is a delight to read and just as relevant today as when it was written. In the first stanza he explains that this is not the book he thought he was going to write - we can thank God that he did.
The story of Christian's pilgrimage and the difficulties he encounters on the way, is an entertaining read, but if thought is given to the teaching contained in the Allegory, much will be gained.
Pilgrims Progress has been a source of inspiration for many years, and continues to be so.

This edition brings Bunyan's seventeenth-century English up to date and includes all his Bible references. 

The Greatest Thing in the World     by Henry Drummond

The Greatest Thing in the World is perhaps the most famous exposition of Paul’s message of love to the Corinthian church. Scottish writer Henry Drummond wrote this short meditation on love in 1874; widely read and quoted in his lifetime, it sold over twelve million copies and remains a much-loved devotional classic today.
The Greatest Thing in the World lays out the foundation of the gospel: that love, of God and of one another, is our highest calling. This new edition, with a foreword by Norman Drummond, is for all who seek to live a life of love.

Real Christianity - Discerning True Faith From False Beliefs

by William Wilberforce Abridged and edited by James M. Houston

As a young politician, William Wiberforce (1759-1833) set out to do two things: rouse proessing Christians to understand the nature of true faith, and bring about the end of slavery in England's coloinies. Real Christianity challenged the ruling classes of early nineteenth-century England more than any other work.publisher
I find it hard to put into words, my overwhelming sense of rightness in every word of this book. Written over two hundred years ago, it was first published in 1797, William Wilberforce was already a politician of some note, but he had come through a period of intense prayer and contemplation the fruit of which was this book and his own actions and attitudes. From the very first paragraph, he lays bare our wrong thoughts, attitudes and behaviour, and goes on to show what the real Christian should be striving towards. The editor has made this old book into a very readable one for our age. Up to date in an amazing way and a blessing to anyone, believer or non-believer who opens its pages.

Fragments That Remain by Amy Carmichael

Compiled by Bee Trehane, Fragments That Remain is a compilation of notes and letters left behind by Amy Carmichael, after her death in 1951. Drawing from her many years as a missionary in countries such as Japan and India, Carmichael has left us words of inspiration, encouragement and guidance. In Amy's own words: "If to all our Lord asks of us-obedience, confidence in His love, guidance, purposes-we answer instantly, Yes, Lord, then there is nothing to hinder Him from using for our relief and help those eternal forces that are at His command. Limitless power is ours to use if we only know how, and if there is nothing in us to prevent its flow."