Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and although that seems like a long way off, remember, February is a short month. Most people give something up for Lent like candy, soda, Netflix, coffee, warm showers. I had a friend in college who gave up any food that he had to cook, so he survived Lent on mostly turkey sandwiches and salads. Some people choose to add a spiritual practice during Lent: praying a rosary or attending daily Mass more often, perhaps reading Scripture each morning or journaling in the evenings. A lot of folks do a combination of things, all in pursuit of preparing their hearts and minds to fully enter into the mystery of the Cross and rejoice in the Resurrection.
If you’re into books, here are six books from various Catholic publishers that can help make your Lent fruitful, holy, prayerful, and meaningful:
Meditations for Lent
A spiritual classic (and personal favorite), Meditations for Lent is a collection of powerful meditations from Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, a fantastic homilist from the 17th century. Each day, Bishop Bousset’s reflections invite readers to focus intensely on Christ and prepare for an encounter with the Cross. The daily reflections are short, but theologically rich and powerful. Get it here, from Sophia Press.
Pocket Guide to the Rosary
Ascension Press just released a short little book by Matt Fradd, Pocket Guide to the Rosary, with meditations from Scripture and the Saints to aid one as they pray the rosary. Printed in a pocket size, it makes it easy to bring to the Adoration chapel or into daily Mass, or to have it easily accessible in your home. This is a great resource to have, especially if you’re committing to praying the rosary more this Lenten season. Get it here.
Give Up Worry for Lent
Ave Maria Press has a series of excellent Lenten booklets filled with daily reflections and challenges. Gary Zimack’s “Give Up Worry for Lent” focuses on finding peace in Christ and letting go of the things that cause anxiety, stress, and disorder. There’s also a great book to help teens and young adults journey through Lent day by day, perfect for youth ministry programs, Confirmation preparation classes, and for teachers to use with their students. Ave Maria Press also has their annual Lenten devotional, The Living Gospel, that focuses on praying with the daily gospel in an engaging five-step format.
The Reason for the Seasons
Not everyone likes the format of daily devotionals for Lent, so Sophia Institute Press’ latest The Reasons for the Seasons by Fr. James Schall is a great spiritual read that dives into the purpose, structure, history, and meaning of the liturgical seasons throughout the year. If you’ve committed to learning more about your faith this Lent, this is the book that can help you understand one of the simplest, and most profound, aspects of Catholicism: the liturgical calendar. Get it here.
Blessed is She (devotional)
Blessed is She’s liturgical season devotionals for Catholic women are always the perfect blend of reflections, journal prompts, personal essays, and beautiful artwork. This year’s devotional “To The End” focuses on the sacrificial love of the Lord, inviting women to reflect on the tension between the Cross coming on Good Friday and the empty Tomb on Easter Sunday. Get it here.
Remember your Death: Memento Mori Lenten Devotional
Sister Theresa Aletheia Nobel, one of the beloved “media nuns” and a regular on Catholic Twitter, has a new Lenten Devotional based on her popular #mementomori tweets of the past few years. “Remember Your Death: Memento Mori Lenten Devotional” has daily reflections based on the liturgical readings, prompts for journaling, and an examen to review each day, all focused on meditating upon both our mortality and the gift of salvation.
Whatever you choose to do (and read) for Lent, make sure you include one of these excellent books in your routine during the forty days of prayer, fasting, and giving alms.