A new chapter for Lent
There are so many questions we ask to learn more about each other’s stories. During the first few weeks of college, freshmen usually ask themselves questions such as “Where are you from?” and “What’s your major?”. At the start of a job, new colleagues often ask, “Who did you work for?” What did you do?”. At the “newbie” of the town or parish, people want to know, “Where did you move from?” and “How did you choose this parish, this location ? “.
Our evangelical Christian brothers and sisters have a question in their repertoire that goes right to the heart of sharing stories of faith: “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour?” “. But Catholics don’t have a vocabulary for that. In fact, the only people I’ve heard stories about the origin of the Catholic faith easily shared are converts.
Why is that? Converts later in life—just like freshmen, new recruits, and new parishioners—can point the line between “before” and “after.” For cradle Catholics, there is no line like this.
Correction: there is a “before and after” line, but you have to choose to cross it. We call it Lent, the penitential period of entering into the suffering of the Lord during which we strive to make a new start. And Ash Wednesday serves as a time when we embark on a new direction, a new way of being, and a new chapter in our history.
Each resource featured this week on CatholicsRead can be a guide or support for any Catholic’s journey through Lent this year. Perhaps you have not yet engaged in the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; Here are some suggestions. Our editors have provided resources that draw on a variety of Catholic approaches to prayer and spirituality and are designed to fit into the daily or weekly schedule of busy Catholics.
If any book could be the “bedside table” read for the next 40 days, it’s Gerhard Lohfink’s. The Christian faith explained in 50 letters from Paulist Press. This book reveals the heart of Christianity through letters between the author and the parents of a nine-year-old girl who decided on her own to become a Catholic. Witnessing the personal accompaniment of the family at the turning point of their own faith can encourage us all to embrace ours.
A Catholic Book of Hours and other devotions: praying the seasons and feasts of the liturgical year of Loyola Press is by renowned liturgist William G. Storey. It is presented in two parts: part 1 of the volume is a “Book of Hours” and part 2 comprises a collection of Catholic devotions. This more traditional devotional guide is an excellent resource for furthering Church prayer.
Who doesn’t love the Stations of the Cross during Lent? A scriptural way of the cross by Magnificat is a beautiful reflection of the aesthetic we expect from this publisher – gorgeous images and inspiring words that are designed to be accompanied by moving classical musical works. Or for the busy Catholic, try My Pocket Way of the Cross from Catholic Book Publishing or the Pocket Guide to the Stations of the Cross from Ascension. They are the perfect size to take with you throughout your day.
A litany is a traditional devotion that builds and deepens the prayer through repetition and rhythm. The Litany of the Sacred Heart from Catholic Book Publishing is a deeply spiritual collection of thirty-three color, reverently illustrated invocations with accompanying commentary on the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
If you feel called to center your Lenten reflections on the person of Jesus, try The Last Days of Jesus by Bishop Serratelli of Catholic Book Publishing, and reflect on specific moments from the Passion narrative. The Path to Blissby popular YouTube Franciscan Casey Cole, OFM, and published by Ave Maria Press focuses on Jesus’ own teaching that challenges us to change the way we see and respond to the world.
Looking for a weekly guide to keep you on track? Liturgical Formation Publications Living your baptism in Lent: weekly reflections for your journey by Dennis Strach, CSC, is exactly the kind of Lenten reflective book to lead you into a deeper relationship with God, rooted in your baptism.
Whatever you choose to guide you through your next “before and after,” have a blessed and fruitful new beginning this Lent.