Book Recommendations for Lent

Book Recommendations for Lent

In preparation for Lent, the Godzdogz team have put together a few suggestions for books to read during the coming season:

Benedict XVI, Journey to Easter: Spiritual Reflections for the Lenten Season
A Lenten blessing that evaluates the meaning of the season, the significance of the birth and death of Christ, and the meaning of Jesus in the lives of Christians everywhere, in a spiritual meditation that follows such themes as the mystery of Mary and the Pentecostal sending of the Spirit.

James Finley, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere (25th Anniversary Edition)
Finley, a one-time novice and student of Merton’s, explores Merton’s understanding of the interior life. He covers the whole of Merton’s spiritual theology in a concise and systematic manner. For those who do not have experience with Merton’s writing and do not know where to begin reading his texts, Finley’s work serves as a good introduction. I return to this text almost every Lent as a way of reevaluating my own contemplative practices.

R.S. Thomas, Collected Poems 1945-1990
This collection of poems published to mark the 80th birthday of the late R.S. Thomas reflects the author’s lifetime of searching for God as an Anglican parson in rural Wales. Thomas’s works are vivid and evocative, always rigorously honest and often deeply challenging, passing from the youthful and exuberant fascination with rural Wales to a mournful poetic expression of grief for his wife and for the certainties of his youth. Thomas was clearly a difficult but lovable man, wracked by contradiction, bitterness and melancholy, he was nevertheless deeply committed to finding his own identity – and the truth about the world in which he lived – in the light of the gospel. His poetry is – in his own words – “an attempt to convey through language something which is unsayable”.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, In the House of the Lord: The Journey from Fear to Love
This book takes its inspiration from John 15 – Jesus is the vine, we are the branches – to explore the themes of intimacy, fecundity, and ecstasy. For each theme, fear is the obstacle and love is the remedy. Henri Nouwen reflects on the Gospels, on the world around us, and on his experiences living in a L’Arche community with mentally handicapped people. Opening our hearts to God and to other people is not easy; but this journey from fear to love will liberate us and bring us into a communion that is fruitful and joyful.

Fulton J. Sheen, Lent and Easter Wisdom
A Lenten journey of daily meditations covering the traditional themes of Lent—sin and salvation, death and Resurrection, sorrow and hope. Fifty passages and accompanying mini-prayers offer readers a practical spiritual program as a retreat from the cares and concerns of a secular world view.

Jean Vanier, The Broken Body
In a series of meditations written in ‘poetic prose’ Jean Vanier takes us on a journey that explores our own brokenness and suffering in the context of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus and his ongoing presence in the church. It is in the body of Christ, broken for us, and Christ who we encounter in our hearts, relationships and in the church, that we can accept the extent of our brokenness but also grow in holiness and wholeness. The book is wonderfully gentle but powerful, simple but profound, an excellent accompaniment to Lent.

Gary Anderson, The Genesis of Perfection
The coming redemption of man and woman is the defining feature of the Lenten season. This elaboration of the sin of Adam and Eve is in no way depressing, but rather it underscores the audacious mercy God has shown to mankind.

Albert Nolan OP, Jesus Today: A Spirituality of Radical Freedom
Do you yearn for a dedicated Christian spiritual life in the footsteps of Christ? Then Albert Nolan’s book Jesus Today is the book to read during this 2012 Lent. The author, a South African Dominican, wrote several works, the best-seller Jesus Before Christianity among others. He is among the most influential theologians that helped the collapse of the Apartheid regime. In Jesus Today, reading the signs of the times, Nolan found that people long for a authentic spiritual life and he helps them to appreciate and grasp the means to achieve essential transformation in order to experience their oneness with God, themselves, the other human beings and the Universe. In the end, one finds a radical freedom.

Barsanuphius and John, Letters (translated by John Chryssavgis)
The letters of these two holy hermits from sixth century Palestine present us with a wealth of spiritual guidance, gentle yet at the same time uncompromising. Their letters were written to all sorts of enquirers, including politicians as well as monks, who sought their advice on living the Christian life, and dealing with the challenges it presents. For something almost 1500 years old, the freshness and relevance of their advice is striking, and helpful as we seek to examine our own lives this Lent in the light of Jesus.

The Godzdogz team consists of student brothers studying at Blackfriars Studium in Oxford.