"Yesterday, the world was busy in its pleasures, and the very children of God were taking a joyous farewell to mirth: but this morning, all is changed. The solemn announcement, spoken of by the prophet, has been proclaimed in Sion: the solemn fast of Lent, the season of expiation, the approach of the great anniversaries of our Redemption. Let us, then, rouse ourselves, and prepare for the spiritual combat."
So begins Dom Prosper Gueranger's call to arms on Ash Wednesday, in his magnificent The Liturgical Year.
Indeed, Lent is upon us – once again for many of us – and for the first time for some of us! Naturally, our thoughts turn to Our Lord’s Passion even more so than during the rest of the year. We don’t want to allow this sacred season to pass us by and not benefit as much as possible from dedicating this time to having a closer look at, and more intimate meditation on, Christ’s sufferings and death on the Cross.
Particularly useful is to have a book, or similar, to provide detailed material to base our meditations upon to make them more fruitful. Yet, there are so many books, booklets, Restoration Radio shows, sermons etc, where does one start? If you haven’t already decided on what you’ll be using, or there’s scope to include additional resources, or change things around to aim for better results, I’ve put together a brief list of some of our options, that hopefully not just recent converts but even some old timers might find helpful.
To begin with, if you aren’t convinced already of the necessity and efficacity of meditating on the Passion, there are countless quotes from the Saints and clergy that should be compelling. Here are just a few:
St. Bonaventure says that meditation on the Passion is the first and most important of all devotions; and to all souls who wish to advance in the love of God, he gives the advice never to let a day pass without meditating on the Passion.
According to the great St. Augustine, there is no vice for which we do not find a remedy in meditating on the Passion of Christ, “This medicine given to man is so great that nothing greater can be thought of.”
St. Albert the Great tells us, “One gains more merit by meditating lovingly on the Passion than by scourging oneself most severely or fasting on bread and water every day of one’s life.”
Finally, St. Bernard shares: “I have convinced myself that wisdom consists in meditating on the sufferings of Christ.”
Now for the list, I will start with a few books that are available in our TR store. At a glance, I see that we currently carry 14 different titles in the “Lent and Passion and Death of Our Lord” department. Some of these have already had specific reviews published about them, so there’s no need for me to extensively review them further, other than to say that:
- “The School of Jesus Crucified” that Alexander reviewed, is probably among the very best not just during Lent but all year round because it’s so thorough and provides various prayer and meditation schedules that really keep you in the zone.
- “Cross and Crown” was reviewed by Stephen on Goodreads platform.
- “At the Foot of the Cross: or the Sorrows of Mary” I reviewed in September 2020.
- “Thoughts on the Passion” was reviewed last Lent for our readership.
- “Why the Cross” was covered adequately in April 2021.
We also have in our TR store a book by St. Alphonsus Liguori, “The Clock of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ” which I haven’t read but would love to do so! One of the books that’s used (with profit, I think) in our household by at least one family member every Lent is St. Alphonsus’ “The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ” – and given that Doctor’s writings have the highest approbation from the Church – I am confident that his book using the clock device as a meditation for Passiontide (which follows Our Lord’s final 24 hours before His death, according to the sequence of events recorded in Scripture and Tradition) to foster devotion, is similarly sure to be excellent.
Another interesting looking book, which I have on my wish list is, “The Crucifix: Pious Meditations.” Likewise, highly appealing and translated from French is, “Jesus Crucified” which is co-authored/finalised by the lauded spiritual-writer, Fr. Jean Nicholas Grou. Both titles seem like great choices, though I haven’t yet read either.
A couple of new additions to our store collection are, “The Holy Hour in Gethsemane: Meditations on the Anima Christi” and “The Thirty Days’ Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” The latter, like the Stations of the Cross or Way of the Holy Cross booklets, is essentially a pamphlet containing prayers in honour of the Passion. Pious Catholic homes would usually have at least one, probably many, different booklets to use for the Stations of the Cross, and these are often best given a protective cover, so they don’t get worn out too quickly, especially when children are involved, because they tend to get a lot of use all year round. However, given the very inexpensive cost, buying several copies at a time is usually a good idea for families. I can’t imagine any Catholic prayer-area, whether a chapel, shrine, or simply a private kneeler, that doesn’t have a text handy to perform the Stations/Way of the Cross. Standard formats for praying the Stations are usually included in Daily Missals, but for convenience, I prefer separate booklets; and St. Alphonsus’ method is my favourite.
As you can see there are ample options in our store for your various needs this Lent!
“Treading the Winepress – With Christ in His Passion” by Fr. William Stephenson, S.J., with an Imprimatur given in 1946, and “The Passion and Death of Our Lord” (1944) by The Most Rev. Alban Goodier (who also was a Jesuit), are my top picks insofar as Lenten books not currently available from the TR store. A much smaller book by Abp. Goodier is “Crown of Sorrows” which, unlike the larger book by the same author, is one that can easily be finished before Easter is upon us if started on Ash Wednesday, or even much later in Lent.
If you’re looking for some readings for each day during Lent that are very brief, “Remember Me: Daily Readings for Lent” can be accessed free online, or an equivalent resource called, “The Sacred Passion of Jesus Christ: Short Meditations for Every Day in Lent” can be purchased and downloaded for a song, whilst simultaneously supporting a budding Catholic publisher in India.
Whatever you choose, we at True Restoration hope that we have in some way aided you to achieve a truly devout and grace-filled Lenten season!