Lenten reading

February 25, 2009

What are you reading for Lent?  Usually I try to select one or two suitable books, in addition to the Bible.  St. Augustine’s Confessions and T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets are old standards for me; almost every Lent I read at least one of them.  (This year it will be Eliot again, I think).   Last year I read Brother Lawrence, and found it good but not great.

Should I re-read a classic like The Cloud of Unknowing? (It has been over five years since my last look at it.)  Should I try something new?  Over the past year I have been slowly reading a very rich book called Ages of the Spiritual Life by Paul Evdokimov, an Orthodox writer, and perhaps I should just continue with it.  I have also thought of Kierkegaard’s shorter works, such as his Edifying Discourses.  But I am not sure.

And so I ask again: what are you reading?  Any suggestions for me?

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16 Responses to “Lenten reading”

  1. Eric Says:

    Reading Brother Lawrence, In Conversation with God, and Navarre Bible.


  2. I think I’m going to read Francesca Murphy’s Christ, the Form of Beauty. I bought it a few months ago but had trouble focusing on it–it’s somewhat technical theology. I should be able to concentrate better during Lent. Not sure I have the knowledge of theology to follow it, though.

  3. cburrell Says:

    I remember thinking that book looked worthwhile. The title reminds me a little of David B. Hart’s book on theological aesthetics. I did not understand much of the book, but he talks about “the form of the beauty of Christ”. Not sure if there’s any influence there — nor even of the way in which it might flow!

  4. Christina A. Says:

    Have you ever read Teresa of Avila?

    Try “The Life of Teresa of Avila by Herself”

    Our parish always sells these booklets of daily reflections for the liturgical season (Lent, Advent, Ordinary) and we bought the Lent one to read through. Other than that, I’m struggling to finish a history of the children of Henry VIII before it’s due back at the library that I’ve been reading for a couple months! There is definitely a religious aspect to that history….

  5. Janet Says:

    I went to a talk by a local priest about Edith Stein. He said that she was staying with friends and picked up a copy of St. Theresa’s autobiography and read it straight through and was converted. This was very disheartening for me because it had just taken me six months to read it. Of course, I was only reading it a few minutes a day for spiritual reading.

    Between lodw and here, I’m thinking about Howard’s book about the Four Quartets. A little at a time, like St. Theresa.

    I’m also reading some commentaries on Paul as a sort of armor against the whackiness I’m hearing in Greek class. I don’t want to do textual criticism. I just want to learn to read Greek.

    AMDG, Janet

  6. cburrell Says:

    I have read St. Teresa’s autobiography, Christina. In fact, you give me an idea…

    I’ve heard that same story about St. Edith Stein, Janet. Sometimes the right book falls into one’s life at the right time; it was the right time for her.

    I read Howard’s book on the Four Quartets last year during Lent. I didn’t take much away from it, maybe because I was reading it in bed, and often fell asleep mid-stride.

  7. Janet Says:

    I’m trying to picture you, or anyone, striding in bed.

    AMDG, Janet

  8. cburrell Says:

    Hey, it’s morning…

  9. Christina A. Says:

    “idea…” You can’t leave off with that kind of cliff hanger this early in the morning!!

    Do tell!

  10. cburrell Says:

    It wasn’t much of an idea, I suppose. I only thought to post my Book Note about St. Teresa’s autobiography.

  11. Nick Milne Says:

    My plan (as distinct from what will actually end up happening, unfortunately, for I know myself) is to read through some of the Old Testament books that don’t typically get as much attention as your Isaiahs and your Psalms and whatnot. This will include all of the deuterocanonicals (particularly Sirach, which is just *awesome*), as well as pretty much everything after Daniel. I’m tired of not knowing much about these works.

    I’ve also got Cardinal Dulles’ A History of Apologetics beckoning to me, and a stout collection of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers.

  12. cburrell Says:

    Those sound like good selections, Nick. I don’t suppose the collection of the Apostolic Fathers is the one put together by Kirsopp Lake, is it? That’s the one I have.

  13. Janet Says:

    I have the Kirsopp Lake and though it is many things, I don’t think I would call it stout–but then maybe you have a different edition.

    Did I ever tell you about the day I went into the library at the Seminary and they were selling a 30-volume hardback set of Church Fathers? They were selling for 50 cents a book and apparently none of the seminary students were interested, so they gave them to me for free.

    AMDG, Janet

  14. Nick Milne Says:

    Well, it’s not exactly huge, and it’s not Kirsopp Lake, either. I say “stout” because it’s a hardback with a satisfying weight to it. It’s from the Dorset Classic Series, translated by one Maxwell Staniforth. I’ve got Eusebius’ History of the Church from the same imprint, though it’s translated by G.A. Williamson.

    Janet, it’s not nice to inspire jealousy during Lent. Alas!

  15. Nick Milne Says:

    I intend also to reread Lewis’ Cosmic Trilogy, though I can’t say that it’s really what the Church would have in mind. It remains the case that I’ve never had a book affect my spiritual outlook so profoundly as Perelandra did, and I’d like to firm that up a bit after a long break from having read it.

  16. Janet Says:

    Well Nick, I just didn’t want you to have to go out looking for suffering.

    The first time I read Out of the Silent Planet I was 19, and reading all the Sci-Fi I could get my hands on. I thought it was an ok Sci-Fi story, and I, veteran of 12 years of Catholic schools back when they were really Catholic, was completely oblivious to any spiritual meaning. I look at it now and wonder how that could have been. I also didn’t know it was the first of a trilogy.

    About five years later, having had a re-conversion, I came across the whole trilogy and was just amazed. I’ve read them all several times over the past almost 40 years and I always see things that I didn’t see before.

    I think the most profound thing I have learned from Perelandra is to accept the thing that is given and not to always be trying to recapture what is past. Of course, that’s easier said than done. CSL also does a great job of capturing the vapidity of evil, doesn’t he?

    I would imagine that the Church would be content with any reading that would bring us closer to the Truth. Personally, I always seem to gain the greatest spiritual insights from novels.

    AMDG, Janet


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