Am I the only one wondering how Lent has already arrived? It feels like just yesterday I was decorating my Christmas tree and enjoying White Christmas with a mug of cocoa. Yet here we are, ready to embark upon the most solemn, sacred time of the liturgical year.
Are you ready to journey together as a community and with Jesus?
Lent is Not a “Spiritual-Improvement Plan”
It is important to refrain from treating this liturgical season as just another “spiritual improvement plan.” When we do this (as I have), it can become all about trying to “do” more instead of asking Jesus what He wants these 40 days to look like for us as individuals.
One thing that helps me loosen control over the season of Lent is to find spiritual reading that is deep yet challenging to my spirit. I often ask the Holy Spirit to help inspire and guide me.
What do I need to learn right now in my life?
What do I need to be reminded of in this season of life?
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Books to Read During Lent
I want to suggest some spiritual reads for your Lenten journey that are both inspiring and challenging. I have read each of these at different Lenten seasons over recent years, and I hope you would enjoy any of these options as much as I do.
In this devotional, through the writing of different women, we will explore all the places we find God in life; the right here and now of our current reality. It is about encountering Jesus in all the unexpected or unplanned spaces of our lives, knowing He will meet us right there in the moment when we need Him.
God is present and to be found in your current reality. This is a lesson God is continuing to teach me in my present season. I hope you will journey with our community this Lent!
The Return of the Prodigal Son
Henri Nouwen is one of my all-time favorite spiritual writers. His books have taught me so much about myself and the nature of God. His writing is a great gift to the Church and modern culture, especially those who seek Truth, meaning, and purpose in their lives.
The parable of the prodigal son is one of the most well-known of Jesus’ parables. Interestingly, in one of the cycles of readings for the liturgical year, it is a Gospel read during Lent. It is a story I believe each of us can find ourselves in, one we can all relate to from our own life story.
Nouwen writes the book out his own deep prayer and reflection on the Rembrandt painting The Return of the Prodigal Son. In the book, Nouwen shares his prayer before the painting and develops chapters on the various characters in this parable of Jesus: the younger son, the elder son, and the Father.
I first read this book during Lent three years ago. Since then, my copy is well-worn and dearly-loved. Be prepared to be stretched like a rubber band with this book, but in the best possible way!
The Way of the Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues on His Way
During Lent several years ago, I made my first retreat of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For this loud-mouthed extrovert, being silent for five days was a challenge, but such a needed break for my soul.
The priest (who also happened to be a friend of mine) directing my retreat recommended this book. It is not a commonly-known spiritual classic, but the depth it offers readers is perfect for the season of Lent.
The Way of the Pilgrim was written by an anonymous nineteenth-century Russian Orthodox peasant and depicts his examination of Saint Paul’s advice of how to “pray without ceasing.”
This simple man travels far and wide seeking wisdom and answers to this question. Through his travels, he delves deeply into the value, mystery, and power of prayer.
For me, this book greatly simplified but deepened my prayer life while opening me up to the beauty of the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner), a prayer common in the Eastern churches.
As this nameless pilgrim becomes more open to the presence of God, the reader, too, is enlightened. If you are looking for something different this Lent, I would send this book to you in a heartbeat.
What are some of your own favorite spiritual books to read during Lent? Which ones have most impacted you on your own walk with Jesus?Books to Read During Lent #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Patty Breen is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a full-time lay minister who finds joy in running, strong cups of coffee, and all things Ignatian spirituality. A Midwestern gal from the mitten state, she is constantly learning to find grace in all things. She is passionate about ministry to divorced Catholics and women whose relationships have been impacted by sexual addiction. You can find out more about her here.
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