Lent Books 2011

Book Review by Ann Jonas, Tradebook Buyer - CSB/SJU Bookstores
this review was published in the St. Cloud Visitor.

Lent is a time for reflection, holy reading, and spiritual growth. Two daily meditation books and a new reflection on "The Seven Last Words" offer spiritual sustenance for Lent and Holy Week.

Live Lent at Home: Daily Prayers and Activities for Families by Paige Byrne Shortal, Liguori Publications, January 2010, 80 pp., $5.99
Families who would like to observe a meaningful Lent will find a helpful tool in Live Lent at Home by Paige Byrne Shortal.  This day-by-day book contains reflections, activities, and prayers that are simple but worthwhile for all members of the family.  Each week in the book begins with the Sunday Gospel, and then each day has a reflection, a discussion question, and a prayer to say together as a family.  The discussion section, called "To do and to talk about" often includes a suggested activity related to the reflection. The book also contains traditional prayers and "fun pages" comprised of a crossword puzzle, scrambled words, and more.  Shortal, a freelance writer, wrote this book with busy families in mind.  She and her husband live on a small farm in Missouri with their three young grandchildren for whom they are guardians.  Live Lent at Home provides a practical way to help families with their Lenten journey.

Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent by Richard Rohr, St. Anthony Messenger Press, November 2010, 143 pp., $8.99
Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, has been busy writing! Wondrous Encounters, his new daily meditations book for Lent, is one of five of his books published or forthcoming in 2010-2011.  Rohr, who also wrote The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, wrote Wondrous Encounters while on a Lenten hermitage.  His vision was to present a book of daily meditations, but more importantly, an encounter with the Bible: "Not just 'what' is in the Bible, but more 'how' we can interpret the Scriptures for ourselves, and grow through these parallel situations today." In this book, each day begins with a title or phrase that sums up the point for that day.  A couple of short Scripture readings are suggested and then Rohr offers his meditation.  He follows with a short paragraph to emphasize the key passages from the Scripture readings.  A very brief "starter prayer" ends each day's meditation. Rohr invites readers to continue the prayer in their own words, rather than reading or reciting prayers composed by others. In this book Rohr, an internationally known speaker, has given readers an accessible tool for Lent.

Encounter the Cross: Meditations on the Seven Last Words of Jesus by Dennis Billy, CSsR, Liguori Publications, November 2010, 109 pp., $10.99
Meditating on "The Seven Last Words" of Christ is a custom for many Catholics during Lent and Holy Week.  Dennis Billy, a Redemptorist priest, has authored a new meditation on the "Seven Last Words" entitled Encounter the Cross. Billy states in the book's introduction that by remembering a loved one's final words, we become closer to them. By pondering those final words "we are able to share in [our loved one's] life and death, and their spirits are somehow resurrected in our hearts."  This assertion is the basis for Encounter the Cross.  The book contains seven chapters, one for each of Christ's sayings from the cross, along with an epilogue, "The Triumph of the Cross."  Each chapter ends with several discerning reflection questions and a related prayer.   Billy explores the "Seven Last Words" from a human perspective; as a result, readers of Encounter the Cross will find personal meaning in the dying words of Christ.  Billy is currently the John Cardinal Krol Chair of Moral Theology at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and has authored more than 25 books.