As Lent approaches, many of us are seeking to deepen our spiritual practices and draw closer to our faith. Whether you're looking for guidance, inspiration, or reflection during this sacred season, books can be invaluable companions on your Lenten journey.
Idea: Household Book Stacks or Baskets
Something that I like to do at the start of a new liturgical season is to freshen up our prayer corner with a book stack that fits the themes and topics we are approaching. For Lent, we delve into the usual trifecta of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, but we also give consideration to themes like self-discipline, communion with God, and transformative suffering. These seasonal stacks can be done for anyone in your household, whether it be for yourself, your spouse, or children. It's beneficial for everyone to sit and spend time with a good book. When I was teaching littles I would put together book baskets for the children with carefully chosen reading materials that would help them grow at an age appropriate level. They loved taking their little baskets to a cozy corner with pillows and stuffed animals to enjoy quiet reading time.
Tip: Reading Routine and Timers
Especially for children it might be helpful for you to set a regular reading time and I have found in my years as a teacher that having a reading timer is also useful to create positive expectations for how long quiet reading time will be. This will also give you the relatively uninterrupted quiet reading time that you need too.
Here are some book recommendations to help enrich your Lenten experience. If there is a book that you'd like to share with us please put that in the comments.
Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may go to Heaven. -St. Rose of Lima
Lenten Book Recommendations for Spiritual Growth
Bitter and Sweet: 7 Weeks of Daily Readings, time-tested practices, and ancient wisdom. Each day within those weeks has has a scripture reading suggesting to go with it, a question for you to ponder, a prayer, and a song recommendation to listen to.
40 Days With Jesus: 7 week study that will help you connect the dots between Old Testament prophecies about Jesus and the life of Jesus in the New Testament, explain the ministry of Jesus as recorded in the gospels, and provide a refreshing, in-depth study of familiar passages that will renew your passion for the good news of the gospel.
Heart of Christ: 40-day collection of devotionals, poems, and prayers to walk the believer into deeply knowing the person of Jesus Christ.
Divine Intimacy: This Book of Meditations is a classic and is seeped in Carmelite spirituality. For every day it offers two meditations, in liturgical arrangement, that enable the soul to enter the conscious presence of God and to reflect on the theme of the day.
Lent and Easter Wisdom from St. Pope John Paul II: Each daily reflection--from Ash Wednesday through the Second Sunday of Easter--begins with thoughts from Pope John Paul II on some appropriate theme, supported by Scripture, a prayer, and a suggested activity for spiritual growth.
Mary, Teach Me to Be Your Daughter: Offers inspiration to live out Mary’s virtues with prayerfulness and peace. You will find themselves drawn closer to the Blessed Mother and uncover new depths to their relationship with her and her Son.
The Passion of Christ Through the Eyes of Mary: You will find two of the most stirring revelations of Christ’s passion and death ever recorded by Doctors of the Church—Saint Anselm, the Magnificent Doctor, along with writings attributed to Saint Bernard, the Mellifluous Doctor. These private revelations given by Our Lady will enhance one’s prayer life while drawing one deeper into the passion narratives of the Gospels.
The Little Way of Lent: While reading the autobiography of St. Thérèse, Fr. Caster had an 'ah ha' moment that transformed his experience of Lent from one of narrow concern over what to give up to one of joyful freedom to enter into the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. "What struck me," he says, "was her insistence on the way we do things for God and not the things we do for him. It wasn't about what I was offering; it was about why."
In Sinu Jesu: In Sinu Jesu recounts the graces experienced in the life of one priest through the healing and strengthening power of Eucharistic adoration. At the same time, it issues an urgent call to all priests—and, indeed, to all Christians—to be renewed in holiness through adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces.
Introduction to the Devout Life: A book to be read with pencil in hand again and again. It is a book to make your guide for the rest of your life. It goes to the heart of becoming good. Its aim is to help you be rid of sin and even the inclinations to sin.
The Tears of Christ: "Jesus wept, not merely from the deep thoughts of his understanding but from spontaneous tenderness, from the goodness and mercy, the encompassing loving-kindness and exuberant affection of the Son of God for his own work, the race of man.'' This precious insight takes us to the heart of the interior life of St. John Henry Newman (1801-1890), from the treasures of which these meditations are offered as a devotional aid for the season of Lent.
Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen: Hailed as the most eloquent of Fulton J. Sheen's many books. The fruit of many years of reflection, prayer, and research, it is a dramatic and moving recounting of the birth, life, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ, and a passionate portrait of the God-Man, the teacher, the healer, and, most of all, the Savior, whose promise has sustained humanity for two millenia.
Confessions by St. Augustine: The autobiography of his early life in a time of gratuitous indulgence and sin. Having rigorously engaged in such a life, before converting and being baptised into Christianity, Augustine is perhaps one of the most relatable saints of all time.
The Screwtape Letters: C.S. Lewis gives us the correspondence of the wordly-wise devil to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.
“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts...Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”
Tell me in the comments which of these books you've read and if any of them are your favorite.
If you found this post helpful I invite you to subscribe for more or share this post. Every day I put out practical tips and tricks for engaging in the liturgical year with lots of theology to help you understand the "why."