Bringing Lent Home with St. John Paul II
Prayers, Reflections and Activities for Families
By Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
Ave Maria Press, 2014
96 pages, $2.95
To order: avemariapress.com
Lent is a penitential season that is designed to transform hearts and souls. It is also a time when families can grow closer to one another by praying together and communicating with one another. Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle has provided an excellent way for readers to accomplish both objectives.
Using St. John Paul II as a spiritual guide, Cooper O’Boyle effectively assists families in experiencing a deeper spiritual growth and conversion during the holy and penitential season of Lent in Bringing Lent Home With St. John Paul II.
This daily devotional begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday, providing prayers, reflections and activities, which include fasting, prayer and almsgiving, for the entire family. Each day, the family gathers together in the morning or evening to read a quote from St. John Paul II, reflect on points to ponder, read a brief excerpt from the life of St. John Paul II, discuss and choose fasting and almsgiving suggestions and pray a simple yet poignant prayer. In this way, the three essential components of the Lenten season are fulfilled: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
I was very impressed with both the spiritual depth of this book for families as well as the practicality of the format. As a great leader of the Church here on earth, Pope St. John Paul II, showed us the way to holiness, not only through the words he preached and wrote in his many books, encyclicals, homilies, general audiences, but also in the life of holiness he patterned for us. St. John Paul II is an excellent spiritual guide and model of holiness for both children and adults. Cooper-O’Boyle clearly and concisely articulates and explains the saint’s spirituality in a manner that is easily understood, even by children.
Each day’s devotions are short enough to fit into the family’s schedule, while leaving a lasting impact on the heart, mind and soul. The suggested activities for fasting and almsgiving are creative, innovative and attainable for families.
This excerpt from St. John Paul II’s “Message for the World Day of the Sick,” Feb. 11, 2004, stood out to me: “From the paradox of the cross springs the answer to our most worrying questions. Christ suffers for us. He takes upon himself the sufferings of everyone and redeems them. Christ suffers with us, enabling us to share our pain with him. United to the suffering of Christ, human suffering becomes a means of salvation.”
In the “Parent Reflection,” the parent explains how we can offer our sufferings to Jesus, uniting them with his sufferings, using the words of St. John Paul II: “Pain, accepted with faith, becomes the doorway to the mystery of the Lord’s redemptive suffering; a suffering that no longer takes away peace and happiness, since it is illuminated by the splendor of the Resurrection.”
Bringing Lent Home With St. John Paul II is a beautiful spiritual companion for your family this Lent and many future Lenten seasons to come. It will draw you and your family into the holiness of the season and prepare your hearts to receive the full gift of love offered to us at Easter.
Jean M. Heimann blogs at CatholicFire.blogspot.com.