Books That Inspire Faith

Books+That+Inspire+Faith

(Credit: The Underground Group Supplying Pittsburgh’s Prisoners with Books, Literary Hub)

When you think of the phrase “good book,” the adjectives “action,” “funny,” and, of course, “no long descriptions” (cough cough, every nineteenth century novel ever) may come to mind. But sometimes, we forget one of the most important roles that good books can play in our lives, and that’s to enrich our relationship with God. Though no book will ever beat out the Bible for first place in the get-us-closer-to-God department, here are some books that you may enjoy reading and where the Holy Spirit just might be waiting to inspire you.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, by JRR Tolkien (Emma Judge ‘22)

The Lord of the Rings series by JRR Tolkien is a classic series about fantasy, action, and adventure. It features mythical beings such as elves, dwarves, and hobbits, and not-so-mythical creatures, as in humans. The characters embark on a journey to destroy the One Ring that can rule them all, which gives the wearer the power to become invisible at the cost of his or her freedom.

When you think of literature about growing in faith and character, Lord of the Rings series are probably not the first books you’d think of. But the symbolism of the characters’ journey and the One Ring’s power, as well as the deep faith of the author, Tolkien, make Lord of the Rings one of the most epic series about faith. The main character, Frodo Baggins, receives the One Ring from his uncle Bilbo, who has carried it for many years and has become slowly enticed by its power. Frodo then goes on a dangerous journey to destroy the Ring and its hold over mankind, all the while risking his own life for the sake of the world. The Ring, in theory, represents the temptation to sin and how sin slowly takes hold of mankind… unless there is one who will make the ultimate sacrifice to conquer it. That’s the biggest Scriptural interpretation of Lord of the Rings, but there are many more if you look deeply enough into the book. The Lord of the Rings books offer us an imaginative insight into the meaning of sacrifice and can increase our faith by modeling what overcoming temptation and loving our world to the fullest looks like.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (Anna Sheehan ‘21)

Without giving away any spoilers, the Narnia trilogy is an epic journey. From the creation of Narnia to the entry of four World War II era youngsters to the addition of a young prince and a dozen other characters on the Narnia scene, these stories follow the history of the magical Narnia world. Each book includes a unique message — as well as source of excitement — as it reveals its particular adventure.

Like The Lord of the Rings series, The Chronicles of Narnia model rejection of temptation, making the ultimate sacrifice by giving one’s life, and working for the common good instead of for oneself. Also like The Lord of the Rings, the Narnia books implement these abstract themes into an imaginative, accessible story, and they’re written by an author who himself had a deep Christian faith. These books don’t just illustrate what’s good; they inspire the reader’s eagerness to reject temptation, make sacrifices, and work for others. I’ve found that the Narnia series helped me grow in my faith because they make “being good” look so exciting. I saw, through these books, that an everyday sacrifice such as emptying the dishwasher (yes, even something as cliche as that) is really the same thing as going into battle with Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy from Narnia because it’s all for the same goal: to do what’s good even when it’s hard. With The Chronicles of Narnia swimming in your mind, doing good becomes an adventure.

And lastly, for some non-fantastical and more practical faith inspiration:

The Way, The Furrow, and The Forge, three books by St. Josemaria Escriva (Kate Pioch ‘22)

I could list all of Escriva’s work here for spiritual reading, but his “trilogy” is the most known and loved of all his works. Each makes for a good companion in mental prayer, and his insights are a wonderful guide to seeing holiness everywhere in everyday life.

Final thoughts: Faith is hard work and, okay, sometimes reading is too. But when you find a series that is exciting such as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, or offers real-life inspiration, such as St. Josemaria Escriva’s trilogy, you can enjoy a story and rejuvenate your faith. Simultaneously. And they said multitasking couldn’t be done! But seriously, these books show that the Faith is, in fact, an exciting adventure. Knowing this can help us reach a deeper point in our relationship with God. We reach a point where it’s not just about following rules or about not being bad, it’s about actively choosing good because we realize we are part of an exciting battle which is larger than ourselves.

And if the fantasy novels are true, the Good will always win.

Anna Sheehan ‘21, Emma Judge ‘22, and Kate Pioch ‘22; Faith Editor, Staff Writer, Assistant Copy Editor

22asheehan@montroseschool.org, 22ejudge@montroseschool.org, 22kpioch@montroseschool.org