My current spiritual reading is The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ. Our priest recommended it in his sermon a couple of weeks ago, and he also mentioned how another favorite priest of ours is fond of this book as well, so of course I got a copy straight away. I took it with me to holy hour one evening, and Kateri picked it up and started in. The next day she told me this quote she remembered, so I encouraged her to write it down in the book. (side note- is it time to get my eight-year-old her own commonplace book?)
The book is really excellent. St. Alphonsus is always good, but this book in particular seems very accessible and easy to digest, perhaps because at 150 pages it's not nearly as long as some of his other classic works. But it is rich and wide and deep as St. Alphonsus always is, and in fact I'm not getting very far very fast as I keep re-reading the parts I've already read. In typical St. Alphonsus fashion the book contains many quotes from the saints as well as Scripture. After a lengthy introduction, the book's short chapters each focus on a different verse of St. Paul's passage in I Corinthians 13 describing the characteristics of love. St. Alphonsus focuses on our love for Christ, and how our charity towards others is commensurate with our love for Him. There are chapters on suffering, meekness, detachment, humility, faith, hope- everything that matters most in one's spiritual life. Each chapter ends with a devotional prayer directed to Our Lord Himself, and St. Alphonsus writes beautiful prayers indeed.
If you need a last minute gift idea for a thoughtful person, or are looking for new devotional material for yourself in the new year, may I suggest The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ. Highly recommended by good and holy priests, and approachable enough for even the likes of me.
O God! And how is it that men do not love this God who has done so much to be loved by men? Before the Incarnation of the Word, man might have doubted whether God loved him with a true love; but after the coming of the Son of God, and after his dying for the love of men, how can we possibly doubt of his love? "O man," says St. Thomas of Villanova, "look on that cross, on those torments, and that cruel death, which Jesus Christ has suffered for you: after so great and so many tokens of his love, you can no longer entertain a doubt that he loves you, and loves you exceedingly." - St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ