Lent begins in just a few weeks, and once again, your Blessed is She sisterhood is excited to walk through this rich liturgical season with you. In an effort to help you deepen your prayer life during Lent, we have created our annual Lent Journal, Mary’s Way of the Cross cards, and the complete Lent Bundle. We sat down with Laura Kelly Fanucci, the author of this year’s Lent Journal, to discuss the inspiration behind the journal and her hope for the women who participate.
Tell us about the meaning behind the name of the Lent Journal. What does it mean to believe what the Lord has spoken, and how does this direct our journey through Lent?
She Who Believed comes from Luke 1:45—right after the words “Blessed is she,” beautifully! It’s part of the proclamation of Elizabeth when she greets her cousin, Mary, at the moment of the Visitation. It’s such an incredible affirmation of faith from woman to woman, so I found it to be the perfect title for this Lent Journal that dives deep into the stories of women in Scripture.
In each week of Lent, we look at four women who teach us about prayer: two from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament. They are women of strong and real faith. Even when they doubt, sin, or wrestle with what God asks from them, they do not give up.
As we seek to deepen our prayer lives in Lent, these sisters of Scripture can offer us hope and inspiration for whatever we are struggling with in our own lives.
How is the Lent Journal set up? What can we expect each day?
Each day follows the same format: read a passage of Scripture, reflect on its meaning for your life, respond to God’s Word in a reflection question, and pray with a short closing prayer.
Each week of Lent follows the same structure, too. On Sunday we reflect on the theme of the week—one aspect of prayer.
Monday and Tuesday look at women from the Old Testament who teach us about this kind of prayer. Thursday and Friday do the same with women from the New Testament.
On Wednesdays, there are pauses built in to catch up on days you might have missed (I’m a big believer in making prayer resources realistic!). I don’t want readers to get caught in the trap of thinking they’re “failing at Lent” if they don’t get through each day. I hope this Lent Journal will be a beautiful invitation to women, never a source of guilt.
Finally, on Saturdays, we choose one simple action to live out the spirit of the Scripture we have studied. I offer three options, since I know women from many different walks and seasons of life are part of our sisterhood! You can choose whatever speaks to your heart.
What themes do you reflect on most throughout the Lent Journal?
The book looks at four types of prayer: adoration, confession, petition, and thanksgiving. As we learn what the women of Scripture teach us about these different kinds of prayer, we’ll reflect on our own relationship with God: how to return to God when we sin, how to make time for God in our busy lives, and how to say “yes” to what God asks of us.
Which of the women you reflect upon surprised you the most during your deep dive? Who do you find yourself connecting with most?
When I started to write about the women we encounter during Holy Week, I wasn’t sure if I would find enough women for each day. Instead I was blown away by what some of the “bystanders” of Holy Week were waiting to teach me. Even the maid at the fire in the courtyard who calls out Peter as a follower of Christ plays a pivotal role.
I love Mary Magdalene. I knew I loved her when I started writing the journal, but reflecting on her story deepened my love for her even more. The story from the Gospel of St. John when she encounters the Risen Christ at His tomb—it speaks so powerfully to me in my own experiences of grief. How her heart must have leapt and her entire world flip upside down when she realized it was Him! I loved the chance to sit with her story and learn from her again.
How can this Lent Journal be an aid and guide for us to truly enter into the Lenten spirit of contrition and hope?
Sometimes Lent can start to feel like a season where we beat up on ourselves for all our spiritual faults and flaws. While honest confession of our sins is a healthy and necessary way to grow, I don’t believe that God wants us to spend six weeks feeling awful about ourselves. The God of Love is constantly inviting us into fullness of life!
So I wanted this Lenten Journal to point each of us toward the hope of the Resurrection and the gift of salvation and forgiveness that Christ’s triumph over sin and death offers.
[Tweet “The God of Love is constantly inviting us into fullness of life! // #BISblog #BISlent”]
What role did Our Lady play in inspiring this Lent journal for women?
She is the original “She Who Believed”! I felt like Mary was a companion throughout my writing of the journal. I kept praying she would do the same for each woman who prays with Blessed is She this Lent.
Mary offered a beautiful, unifying spirit to the book. From Eve’s heartache through Mary Magdalene’s wonder, I could see Mary’s faith reflected in every single woman from Scripture. It’s such a delight to find how God was preparing the way to her fiat through each woman’s story in salvation history.
Can I do this journal with a friend or a group?
Yes! The reflection question for each day can be used for discussion with a friend or group.
I always keep in mind that readers use journals in many different ways. Some like to write their reflections right on the pages, others prefer to journal in a separate notebook or simply reflect on the questions in prayer. I’ve loved hearing from women who used the Advent Journal with friends, small groups, roommates, and even students! So my hope is that the reflections and questions can be used in whatever way brings people closer to the Lord during Lent.
I’m not Catholic. Can I use this Lent Journal?
Absolutely! While written from a Catholic perspective, Christians from various backgrounds can find value and growth in these pages and community.
What is it that you hope women learn and experience from She Who Believed?
I hope that women draw strength, wisdom, and inspiration from the powerful examples of our sisters in Scripture. I hope that these role models of faith—even with their real-life flaws and struggles—can lead us to deepen our prayer lives during Lent as we reflect on their trust in God. And I hope the Lent Journal will inspire women to see themselves as beloved in God’s eyes as they prepare for the joy of the Resurrection at Easter.
Have you gotten your Lent Journal yet? Get yours here and spend the season praying with us!
[Tweet “The Lent Journal: An Interview with the Author // #BISblog #BISlent”]