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BY Simcha Fisher
If you're going to find a book for Lent, you have less than a week left to find it! Here are a few suggestions:
Through the Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections A collection of short excerpts from the talks and writings of Pope Francis, paired with questions and reflections that draw out an encouraging or challenging idea for the day. A good accompaniment for daily prayer -- or a "bathroom book" that anyone in the family can pick up and browse through.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis What I'm currently reading aloud to my kids, ages 11 and up. It's a bit over the heads of some of them, but it's lively and entertaining and full of "Ouch, that's familiar" moments.
The Gargoyle Code by Fr. Dwight Longenecker. Screwtape Letters for 21st century Catholics, with one chapter for each day of Lent. Fr. Longenecker is always entertaining and engaging, and often devastatingly insightful.
Strange Gods by Elizabeth Scalia A penetrating and provocative call to help us identify and reject the everyday "idols" that we worship, often without realizing it.
Your Questions, God's Answers by Peter Kreeft. Short but characteristically clear and profound answers (all thoroughly sourced in Scripture) to the questions that teenagers and others may have as they become more serious about the Faith. A good book for confirmation students.
A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor. I haven't read it yet, but can't imagine her writing anything that's not original and worthwhile.
Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed. When he says "beginners," he means intelligent, motivated beginners who are prepared to read slowly, and to go back several times to make sure they've understood. I tried this book for my teenagers, and we weren't quite up to the task. More suited for individual reading than reading aloud, because, though clear, it is very dense.
Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. Moving and illuminating meditations on the final utterances of Christ as He suffered and died, to help us work toward Easter without skipping Good Friday.
Great Lent: Journey to Pascha by Fr. Alexander Schmeeman, the renowned Orthodox author of For the Life of the World. From the book description: "The Lenten season is meant to kindle a 'bright sadness' within our hearts. Its aim is precisely the remembrance of Christ, a longing for a relationship with God that has been lost. Lent offers the time and place for recovery of this relationship. The darkness of Lent allows the flame of the Holy Spirit to burn within our hearts until we are led to the brilliance of the Resurrection."
Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It by Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary. I just got this in the mail and haven't started it yet, but, to paraphrase St. Monica's bishop, a book of so many tears cannot possibly be boring. Fulwiler's style is so honest and engaging, I'm really looking forward to reading her conversion story. UPDATE: Sorry, I forgot this book is still only available for pre-order! But if you order it now, you should get it just after Easter. A good Easter present, then?
Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Brand Pitre. My reading for Lent! I haven't started it yet, but was blown away by Pitre's Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. Brant Pitre is a real treasure of the modern Church -- a true scholar, but his writing is approachable, and he conveys a sense of joy and excitement about what he has learned about the Faith.
Journey to Easter: Spiritual Reflections for the Lenten Season by Benedict XVI A collection of talks given by then-Cardinal Ratzinger in preparation for Easter. Anyone who believes in the Papa Nazi/Emporer Palpatine version of BVXI should read his actual words, and discover his true voice, which is gentle, gracious, and open-hearted.
The Lost Princess by George MacDonald. The only straight fiction I'm including here. A strange, gorgeous and harrowing fairy tale -- a long short story, I suppose -- which will give you unshakeable images of sin and repentence. We'll be reading this one aloud to the kids this year.
A Little Book About Confession for Kids by Kendra Tierney A great pick for kids preparing for their first confession, and for anyone looking for a refresher on the sacrament. Thorough and well-designed.
Don't forget reading through email. You can sign up for free for Fr. Barron's daily Lenten meditations
and for Matt Warner's free services from Flocknote: Study the Gospels in a Year and Read the Catechism in a Year. Short but unfluffy catechesis, one email at a time.