Sunday, January 31, 2010

What I'll Be Reading for Lent

With Ash Wednesday just over two weeks away, I have been thinking about what I will be using as my Lenten meditation reading material. I have sent for Esther De Waal's newest addition to her corpus of work on the Rule of St. Benedict, "Seeking Life: The Baptismal Invitation of the Rule of St. Benedict". Esther De Waal has long been a favorite spiritual writer of mine and her books on the Rule of St. Benedict always bring me new insights and wisdom.

In this book, she compares the on-going spiritual development that begins in each believer's life at Baptism with the Gospel truths present in the Rule's famous Prologue.

Christian catechesis for neophytes coming into the Church has traditionally been a long, involved process taking much time and effort on the part of the 'candidate' seeking communion with the Church. Over the centuries, our catechesis has become somewhat simpler, less time consuming and I am left to wonder if we should not return to the older ways of catechizing in order to insure that those entering into full communion totally understand what they are vowing to uphold in their spiritual lives. I'm not sure I totally understood when I renewed my baptismal vows in my own right during adult confirmation.

So I am anxious to read De Waal's thoughts and I promise to post more about this new book as soon as I have finished absorbing it all...

For those looking for new Lenten meditation material, I would recommend the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus' "Death on A Friday Afternoon". I was deeply moved by this book and it strengthened my already vast respect and admiration for this great man of God. Neuhaus takes the Seven Last Words of our Lord on the Cross and brings them into focus with amazing precision and profound insight.

Anne Catherine Emmerich's "The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ" is a book that awed and inspired me to grow closer to our Lord by meditating on His Passion. These looks into Christ's Passion were given to Emmerich during ecstatic visions in which Our Lord revealed to Anne Catherine unknown details of the hours leading up to and concluding with our Lord's death on the Cross. These visions were recorded in written form by Clemens Bretano, a friend and associate of Emmerich's at the time of her visions. This book contains both a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur for those who may be somewhat cautious in reading and believing ecstatic visions. At least you will be comforted that nothing in her words are outside of accepted doctrine or teachings of the Catholic Church. By the way, this book was the source material that Mel Gibson used in researching and writing The Passion of the Christ.

Lastly, I would recommend Edward Hay's "The Lenten Labyrinth" as another great choice for Lenten meditations. Hay discusses the journeys of life and the journeys of Lent as paths much like a labyrinth, twisting this way and that before reaching the goal. Hay's writings always challenge, amuse and cause me to look at ideas and preconceived notions just a little bit differently than I may have in the past. He has a 'quirky' way of getting to his point but the end result is clear and pure. This book is divided up into daily reflections for ease of use.

Whether you choose to read any of these books or pick up something of your own choosing, meditate well this Lent on our Lord's Passion and continue to grow in faith and love. Blessed reading! (and let me know what great books you might find in your own search...)

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