During this time of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library and is to read the whole of it straight through. These books are to be distributed at the beginning of Lent. St. Bendict’s Rule for Monasteries, Chapter 48
You don’t have to be a nun or a monk to profit from St. Benedict’s advice for Lent. And, given the busyness of all our lives today, if you don’t finish your chosen book by Easter, it’s a good discipline to continue through the Easter season. Mind you, “discipline” doesn’t mean a deprivation or task but a way of learning–even with eagerness–what’s beneficial; it’s derived from the same Latin word as “disciple”.
Here are some titles (all available on Amazon) that might enhance your Lent observance.
Adrien Nocent, OSB: The Liturgical Year, Lent (Volume 2). Written after Vatican II by one of the foremost liturgical scholars, this readable commentary follows the readings of the Lenten Season. It’s perspective is that of Biblical Theology discerning salvation history in God’s encounters with his people.
Reflections on Scripture are very appropriate, and helpful, Lenten Reading:
Joan Chittister, OSB: Songs of the Heart: Reflections on the Psalms
Walter Brueggemann: Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming
: Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture
: The Prophetic Imagination
Rowan Williams: Christ on Trial: How the Gospel Unsettles Our Judgment
Every year at Vigils during Lent, the monastic community at Holy Cross Abbey considers again the Book of Exodus. The narrative is about a journey from bondage to freedom; from slavery to initiation as God’s people; from blindness through faltering faith. Today, people often describe their transformation in faith as a journey–an imaginative exploration of our experience. The following books are about transformative and spiritual life- journeys:
Rowan Williams: The Lion’s Word: A Journey into the Heart of Narnia
: Dostoevsky: The Making of the Christian Imagination
Joan Chittister: The Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully
: The Story of Ruth: Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life
Helen Luke: Old Age
: Dark Wood to White Rose: Journey and Transformation in Dante’s Divine Comedy
As you probably appreciate, monastic spirituality has something to say to those beyond the monastic enclosure:
Joan Chittister: The Rule of St. Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century
: The Art of Life: Monastic Wisdom for Every Day
Rowan Williams: A Silent Action: Engagements with Thomas Merton
Christian Life can be reflected in our current questions and struggles, in the lives of the saints and in our rich tradition of spiritual teaching:
Rowan Williams with Joan Chittister: Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is
Timothy Radcliffe: What is the Point of Being a Christian?
: Why Go To Church? The Drama of the Eucharist
Joan Chittister: Aspects of the Heart: The Many Paths of a Good Life
: A Passion for Life: Fragments of the Face of God
Rowan Williams: Wound of Knowledge: Christian Spirituality from the New Testament to John of the Cross