February 17, 2023

Do Lent and Spring Belong Together?

Greetings to you all! Here in Alabama, the winter is past and the first buds of spring are opening up! It is still a mental adjustment for me to observe Lent while spring is already peeping out. I grew up in the North, and from what I remember as a child, we didn’t often have any signs of spring until well after Easter. Lent was associated with the slush and mud that were the last remnants of winter. I thought that this was fitting, as I viewed penance and reflection on Christ’s suffering as sad, or dreary at best. We just had to wait patiently for the glories that would come later.

But I am glad to say that since then, Lent has become a very rich and precious season to me. It is full of invitations to reflect on the love of God in His Incarnation and sacrifice, to dialogue with Him about it, and to walk close beside Him, in acts of love. The spring flowers don’t seem out of place during Lent anymore. Their loveliness helps me to see what is actually happening even within a penitential season! In fact, reading the introduction to Lenten reflections by Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C., I found, “‘Lent’ is a Middle English word that means ‘spring’, expressing the anticipated outcome of this penitential season.” Lent is indeed a time of quiet tilling of soil, but it holds a loveliness all its own.

Detail from a fresco by Fra Angelico

In our community, we each choose our own personal spiritual reading, prayers or practices for the season. As many of us are browsing the “Lenten Meditation” shelf in our library, we wanted to point you toward some favorites that are available in our bookstore. We also highly recommend looking over the variety of Stations meditation booklets and recordings of past Lenten retreats available on MP3 or CD.

(Click here for a selection of items)

The Holy Ways of the Cross, by Henri-Marie Boudon

We were blessed recently with a visit from our good friend, Fr. Hugh Gillespie. He told us about several projects he has worked on, including editing this book recently published by Cluny Press. The author, Henri-Marie Boudon, was a key figure in the 17th century French School of spirituality which focused on the the “science of the saints”: contemplating God’s Love in the Incarnation and stirring up our response to that Love. The Holy Ways of the Cross was fundamental in the formation of St Louis-Marie de Montfort and his love of the Cross. While this book is new to us, we are greatly looking forward to reading it during Lent!

(Click here to purchase)

A Time of Renewal, by Mother Mary Francis P.C.C.

This book is a collection of reflections by Mother Mary Francis, compiled by her community, to coordinate with the daily Mass readings for Lent. Mother Mary Francis is delightful and easily accessible, with a Franciscan gift for discovering the joy in all things, especially the gift of the Incarnation. Imminently practical but deeply spiritual, each day gives a true challenge to metanoia – conversion in one’s daily life.

(Click here to purchase)

The Way of the Cross, by Caryll Houselander

Rather than brief meditations for praying with the fourteen Stations of the Cross, this book contains a chapter on each Station. As Caryll Houselander’s writings always do, they provoke a new perspective on familiar scenes, and a deeper perception of spiritual realities in daily life.

(Click here to purchase)