Do you want to get more out of Lent this year?

Categories: Book Reviews,lent

Books offer practical ideas, reflections to deepen your experience of the season

By Ann Jonas
For The Visitor

Lent is a time for spiritual reflection and holy reading. Here are some book recommendations for spiritual growth and renewal.

radcliffe“Stations of the Cross” by Timothy Radcliffe, art by Martin Erspamer; Liturgical Press; November 2014; 72 pp; $14.95

Dominican Father Timothy Radcliffe, a well-regarded spiritual author and speaker, has written a new reflection on the Stations of the Cross. This handsome hardcover book begins with a short preface that provides a brief history on this ancient Lenten devotion. Radcliffe then provides a thoughtful meditation on each station, giving readers a fresh and rich perspective on each of the 14 stations.

Radcliffe’s writing is enhanced by the striking color illustrations done by Benedictine Brother Martin Erspamer, a monk of St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana who is an award-winning liturgical artist. This book offers a meaningful alternative to the traditional stations and is a worthwhile book to read every Lent.

crucis“El Via Crucis: The Migrant’s Way of the Cross” compiled by Fr. Simon C. Kim, PhD; Liguori Publications; May 2013; 80 pp; $6.99

This small paperback offers an interesting and different perspective on the conventional Stations of the Cross. Theologians, immigrants’ advocates and migrants penned the various stations, which are written in both English and Spanish. Father Simon Kim, who does pastoral work with migrants from southern Mexico to the Canadian border, compiled the writings, which offer insights on the dangerous and complex journeys of migrants.

Each station contains a reflection and pertinent prayer. The book has black-and-white photographs that add interest to the text. Readers will gain a better understanding of the difficult choices and challenges of migrants, while praying a unique interpretation of the Stations of the Cross.

40“40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look at Lent” by Marcellino D’Ambrosio; Servant Books; November 2014; 144 pp; $14.99

Many of us revert to doing the same thing every Lent. According to Marcellino D’Ambrosio, the season of Lent is all about newness, and in this new book he offers 40 ways to make the season more meaningful and perhaps life-changing. The book begins with his 40 suggestions, such as “Meditate on the Lord’s Passion every Friday,” “Visit someone lonely in the neighborhood, in the hospital, in a nursing home, or in prison,” and “Learn the Prayer of St. Ignatius.” D’Ambrosio suggests that readers study the entire list, looking for one to three ideas that seem most important and most doable, read the specific pages that further explain these ideas and then commit to doing them throughout Lent.
He then suggests that we read the 40 tips — one each day — along with the accompanying reflection, and he poses that we may incorporate more of these spiritual exercises as we read them. “40 Days, 40 Ways” is very readable with practical ideas and thoughtful reflections to use during Lent or really anytime.

williams“Meeting God in Mark: Reflections for the Season of Lent” by Rowan Williams; Westminster John Knox Press; January 2015; 108 pp; $12

Rowan Williams, the former Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, focuses on the Gospel of Mark — particularly on the Passion narrative — in this new book, published just in time for Lent. Much of the text was garnered from a short series of Holy Week talks Williams gave in 2010 in Canterbury Cathedral.

Williams describes his reflections as “an attempt to help us read Mark slowly, to go back over the surface simplicity of the text and tune in to some of the deeper themes.” Along with an insightful introduction, the book contains three chapters, and then five questions for reflection or group discussion for each chapter. A suggested reading list for each day of Lent and a reflection and prayer for all Sundays of Lent are also included. This accessible but rich Lenten resource will help readers gain more wisdom and understanding of Mark’s Gospel.

Ann Jonas is the general book buyer for the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University.