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Five Books for a Better Lent

Allyson Kenny

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It’s Ash Wednesday, which means the start of the penitential season. Lent is a great opportunity to take stock of our spiritual and emotional lives.

Here are some of my favourite resources that help with that process:

Lenten Healing: 40 Days to Set You Free From Sin by Ken Kniepmann. This is the program of prayer and introspection I’m following this year. The premise is that for each week of Lent, the reader examines how one of the Seven Deadly Sins manifests itself in their daily life, and then seeks to cultivate what Kniepmann calls the Corresponding Virtue to that sin. The work is grounded in the healing framework created by Bob Schuchts, PhD, of the John Paul II Healing Center, whose methods are eminently practical and down-to-earth; his fans include people like the wonderful Miriam Heidland, SOLT.
The Way of Ignatius: A Prayer Journey through Lent by Gemma Simmonds, CJ. Lent is the perfect time to try a “new thing” (Isaiah 43:19), or to see an old tradition with new eyes. That’s what Sr. Gemma’s book will help readers do with the deep legacy of Ignatian spirituality – specifically, Ignatian prayer. And better still, Pray as You Go and Sacred Space have created an audio retreat adapted from Sr. Gemma’s book, so it’s easily accessible for people on-the-go. Check out the audio adaptation at by clicking here.
Journey to Easter: Spiritual Reflections for the Lenten Season by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). Imagine getting to step back in time by more than 35 years to spend Lent with two popes: one, John Paul II, and the other the future Benedict XVI. You get to be a fly on the wall of the Vatican with this collection of retreat reflections preached by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the papal household. I first discovered this book when the Newman Centre at my university was clearing out its library ahead of a planned move, and it’s been a treasured part of my own collection ever since.
Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job by Kerry Weber. A great pick for book clubs or small faith groups, this easy-to-read memoir by Kerry Weber of America Magazine follows her attempts to act out the works of mercy specifically during the Lenten season. A great reminder that Lent isn’t just about what we give up, but also about what we give of ourselves.
Newman on Lent. A collection of sermons by soon-to-be-Saint John Henry Newman. An intellectual giant of the modern Catholic age, these are best read out loud (as they would have been during Newman’s time, as homilies at Mass). A few examples of Newman’s Lenten works can be found via Alive Publishing by clicking here.

Journey through the Lenten Season with special Salt + Light programming, reflections, and educational resources.

Click here to visit the website. 

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