What Are You Reading This Lent?

What spiritual reading are you taking up this Lent? What do you recommend to our readers?

I’m picking up again Present Tense: A Mennonite Spirituality by Gordon Houser, and A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Fermor recounts his travels to many European monasteries – St. Wandrille, Solesmes, Le Grande Trappe, rock monasteries in Cappadocia – but his topic is the meaning of silence and solitude for modern life.

Fr. Sebastian Moore, the well-known spiritual author of Downside Abbey, recently passed away at age 96. What of his works would anyone recommend – The Inner Loneliness, The Crucified Jesus Is No Stranger, Let This Mind Be In You, The Fire and the Rose Are One, Jesus the Liberator of Desires?

Blessed Lent to all of you.


  1. The author E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web) wrote about his wife Katherine planting daffodil bulbs one autumn at their home in Maine. Katherine was terminally ill, very sick, and did not have long to live. And yet there she was, White recounts, “calmly plotting the Resurrection.”

    I am reading “Calmly Plotting: 2014 Lent Devotionals” from the United Church of Christ.

  2. Today I started reading the just-released publication by Rory Cooney, “Change Our Hearts – Daily Meditations for Lent” (Franciscan Media).

  3. Rabbi Martin Cohen’s Our Haven and Our Strength: The Book of Psalms and some of William Cowper’s poetry.

  4. Beth Johnson’s new book, “Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love.” She has kept me grounded since 1984.

  5. I’ve just started Fritz West’s translation of Anton Baumstark’s “On the Historical Development of the Liturgy.”

  6. Mystics by William Harmless SJ. But since I am not so sure there are any harmless Jesuits I am also reading Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor – don’t want to get to holy just yet.

  7. My recommendation would be a classic of desert spirituality, The Life of our Holy Mother Mary of Egypt which is read as part of the Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete in the special Byzantine Offices at Compline for Lent. The Life is available here


    Father Zosimas, an accomplished priest, monk and spiritual director, becomes tempted by thoughts that he has surpassed everyone else in the spiritual life and knows he must find a superior spiritual guide to deliver him. An angel first directs him to a monastery in the desert near the Jordan.

    Then during Lent he follow the monastery custom of living alone in the desert like Christ did. As today’s Gospel tells us part of the motivation was so that only God would know about their asceticism.

    Zosimas hopes to find his spiritual guide in the desert; he discovers a naked former prostitute living a life of penance. A central theme of the story is Zosimas gradual discernment that this woman, first perceived at a distance as a mirage and potential temptation is actually wisdom incarnate, a living icon of Christ (At the highpoint of the story she makes the sign of the cross and walks on waters of the river Jordon). He makes the first step in his discernment by clothing her in his mantle, the second by ordering her to bless him, etc.

    She narrates her life of sin and repentance in the form of a confession that speaks of such a deep knowledge of things of God and of scripture that Zosimas interrupts her to ask who have been her teachers and what books she has read. But, of course like Jesus she has been alone in the desert without any human companionship.

    The story is also a kind of Romeo and Juliet impossible “love’ affair. He hopes to meet her each year in the desert. The next year she instructs him to wait until Holy Thursday and bring her the Eucharist; this is the occasion on which she walks on the water. The following year he discovers her dead, and understands that he had brought her Viaticum…

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #14:
      Liturgical Press has a fine recording of some of the service music that is the context for this story in the Byzantine Liturgy Have Mercy on Me, O God :The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete During Lent I have shared the Life with people by interweaving it with the music from the CD. I give people a copy of the Story but I tell it extemporaneously which enables me to point out and discuss some of its themes.

  8. In recents years I find myself returning to some books that have become “old faithfuls”.
    John Barton, “Love Unknown” (SPCK, 1990), a series of meditations on the death and resurrection. Now sadly out of print.
    Timothy Radcliffe, “Seven Last Words” (Burns & Oates/Continuum, 2004)
    “Bread and Wine, Readings for Lent and Easter” Orbis Books, 2005. Originally edited by the Bruderhof community and published by their publishing arm The Plough Press. There are 72 reflections and I’ve never worked through them all, sometimes spending two or three days on a text. Each year I make new discoveries.
    Also to hand I have Adrien Nocent, “The Liturgical Year” vol 3, Lent, the Sacred Paschal Triduum, Easter Time, recently re-issued by The Liturgical Press. Reading it more for a deepening of my understanding of the season, and finding it a rich resource.

  9. I will be reading Jesus of- Nazareth by Gerhard Lohfink and rereading an old favorite – Bread broken and shared by paul bernier,sss

  10. I am reading for the second time Pagola’s book Jesus, An Historical Approximation. It is uncanny how close the language and themes in this boo at to what we hear from Francis. Then I plan to read James Martin’s new book yet to be released on Jesus.

  11. Prayer by Abhishiktananda is my tradition Lenten read. Sound and reasoned, based in good monastic tradition, open to the Indian tradition in whihc he found himself.

  12. Michael Jinkins, In the House of the Lord: Inhabiting the Psalms of Lament; Walter Brueggemann, Finally Comes the Poet: Daring Speech for Proclamation

    For Lectio Divina, The Book of Job

    For recreation, Mary Karr’s memoir,Lit

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