Lent is just around the corner. Good Catholic books can help you to immerse yourself in the holy season. A daily Lenten devotional makes it easy to fulfill your plans to add some extra prayer for those 40 days. A longer book with a particular theme will inspire you to have a more sacrificial spirit and a greater love for Jesus. Take a look at the offerings below to see which one might fit your Lenten and Easter aspirations.
BOOKS TO ENRICH YOUR FAITH
A Guide to the Customs and Devotions of Lent and the Season of Christ’s Resurrection
by Fr. William Saunders (TAN Books)
What’s the point of ashes on Ash Wednesday? What do pretzels have to do with Lent? Why does the Church celebrate the Annunciation in the middle of Lent? If you — or maybe a recent convert that you know — wants a better grasp of the significance of Lent and Easter, an understanding of its history, and an introduction to some of the many traditions surrounding the season, then look no further. Lavishly illustrated with great works of art.
by Fr. Herbert Niba (Our Sunday Visitor)
Stations of the Cross are a staple parish Lenten practice, and your church will have its own booklets to go with the weekly service. But if you can’t make it at the scheduled time, go to church any time it’s open, and make the stations by yourself (or do them at home). Although you could make the mediations in a freestyle manner, it often helps to have a booklet to guide you. Here’s a new and unusual one, where each meditation on Jesus’ sufferings is then connected to events from the life of St. John Paul II. His lived experience of the cross will help you see how all of us can unite our own sufferings to those of our Savior.
by Michael White and Tom Corcoran (Ave Maria Press)
These “3-minute devotions” should find a place in your car, purse, briefcase, or backpack. Whenever you find yourself waiting to pick someone up, stuck in traffic, or standing in line at the store, you can redeem that time and find refreshment from a short biblical passage followed by a practical reflection and a prompt for further prayer.
Daily Devotions for Lent 2020
by Greg Kandra (Ave Maria Press)
Popular blogger Deacon Greg Kandra’s Lenten daily devotions are slightly more involved than the previous title, and follow a format of prayer, Scripture verse, story/reflection, suggested action for later in the day, and closing prayer. Their purpose is to lead you to repentance and the renewal of your mind, heart, and spirit.
by Fr. Edward Looney (Sophia Institute Press)
Does devotion to Our Lady bring you closer to Jesus? If so, you can’t do better than this new book by Marian expert Fr. Edward Looney. Each daily chapter draws on Mary’s words from one of her many (approved) apparitions, demonstrating how she calls us to greater prayer, faithful worship, works of mercy, and above all, love for her Son. And if, on the other hand, devotion to Mary is something you find difficult, this book could be a gateway to a greater love for the Mother of Sorrows, who shows us the way up the mountain of Calvary.
BOOKS ABOUT FACING DEATH
Ash Wednesday bids us to remember that “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Aside from the month of November, there is no better time to think about our own mortality, facing our (very normal) fear and anxieties about death, and offering them in union with the passion of Jesus. Here are two titles to help you do just that:
My Journey Through the Stations of the Cross
by Emily M. DeArdo (Ave Maria Press)
Emily DeArdo has known since age 11 that she has a chronic disease that will shorten her lifespan dramatically. She has known every heartbreak, humiliation, fear, and disappointment that comes with her condition. Despite that, she has grown into a special vocation of radical trust in God in the midst of suffering. Her memoir uses the Stations as a framework that can help anyone facing physical or mental pain to use it as an opportunity to enter into union with Jesus.
Monks on the Threshold of Eternal Life
by Nicholas Diat (Ignatius Press)
It was probably the most unusual Catholic book to come out in 2019. Veteran journalist Nicholas Diat takes you on a tour of eight French monasteries, giving the reader a taste of what it’s like to live there, but more importantly, what it’s like to die there. Diat interviewed dozens of monks who described the deaths of their brothers in vows. These accounts vary greatly — some monks depart with saintly serenity, others less so. But all are riveting, because we want and need to know: what is death like for a believer? How can faith help us through pain and fear of the unknown? How may I better prepare for my own death? The answers are here.
As an extra bonus, the abbots and superiors interviewed discussed their struggles with decisions about medical intervention at the end of a monk’s life. The modern medical default of heavy, continuous sedation is often in conflict with the goal of a holy death: “For a monk, death must be available. It is the last act of life and the first step in the adventure of eternity. The offering can only be conscious.” There is so much to ponder in A Time to Die. Despite its heavy topic, the reader will close the cover feeling strangely uplifted.