Catholic Lent Books for a Penitential Lenten Journey

lent books

The Catholic Church is rich is spiritually rich there are an assortment of wonderful literature, including Catholic Lent books.

If you are still not satisfied with the books you have, here are some recommendations of books you can use for Lent.

I’ve included a brief description and also an excerpt of the books.

Enjoy!


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1) DIVINE INTIMACY

Divine intimacy is a favorite for those seeking union with God.

With 1,139 pages (leather edition), it provides a daily devotion that inspires you to strive for sanctity. I’ve had this book since I first became Catholic and anytime I get distracted by daily life, I go back to this book for a reality check!

Excerpt:

“It is often easier to accept, in a burst of generosity, the great sacrifices and sufferings of singular occurrence, than the little, insignificant sufferings, closely connected with our state of life and the fulfillment of our duty: sufferings which occur daily under the same form, with the same intensity and insistence, among endless and unchanging circumstances. These may include physical ailments caused by poor health, economic restrictions, the fatigue attendant upon overwork or anxiety; they may be moral sufferings resulting from differences of opinion, clash of temperaments, or misunderstandings. Herein lies the genuine cross that Jesus offers us daily, inviting us to carry it after Him–an unpretentious cross, which does not require great heroism, but which does demand that we repeat our Fiat every day, meekly bowing our shoulders to carry its weight with generosity and love. The value, the fruitfulness of our daily sacrifices comes from this unreserved acceptance, which makes us receive them just as God offers them to us, without trying to avoid them or to lessen their weight. “Yea, Father, for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight” (Mt 11:26).”


2) Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery With the Saints

If Divine Intimacy is the Rolls-Royce of Devotionals, Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery with the Saints is a close second.

I found this book when I was looking for a devotional to recommend to men. We live in a society where traditional male virtues are denigrated, and men are often unsure of which virtues they should focus on.

Originally published in 1891, under the title A Year With the Saints: A Virtue for Every Month of The Year, I find this book to be really effective for both men and women.

The format for every day is a quote from the Saints along with a reflection.

EXCERPT

“This Saint had, by long habit, so mortified his sense of taste that he never gave a sign of being pleased with anything, but took indifferently all that was given him, however insipid or ill-cooked it might be; and so little did he regard what he was eating, that when a couple of raw eggs were once set before him by mistake, he ate them without taking the least notice. He always. seemed to go to the table unwillingly, and only from necessity, eating always with great moderation, and with a view solely to the glory of God; nor did he ever leave the table without having mortified himself in something, either as to quantity or quality. For many years, too, he kept a bitter powder to mix with his food; and he usually ate so little that he frequently fainted from weakness.”


3)The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, is based on detailed visions or our Lord’s passion and Death, as seen by Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824).

Although we are not obligated to believe every revelation, if you really want an understanding of what might have happened during our Lord’s Passion, this is your book.

Incidentally, the movie The Passion of the Christ, by Mel Gibson, is based on this book.

EXCERPT

“The character of Pilate was debauched and undecided, but his worst qualities were an extreme pride and meanness which made him never hesitate in the performance of an unjust action, provided it answered his ends. He was excessively superstitious, and when in any difficulty had recourse to charms and spells. He was much puzzled and alarmed about the trial of Jesus; and I saw him running backwards and forwards, offering incense first to one god and then to another, and imploring them to assist him; but Satan filled his imagination with still greater confusion; he first instilled one false idea and then another into his mind. He then had recourse to one of his favourite superstitious practices, that of watching the sacred chickens eat, but in vain,—his mind remained enveloped in darkness, and he became more and more undecided. He first thought that he would acquit our Saviour, whom he well knew to be innocent, but then he feared incurring the wrath of his false gods if he spared him, as he fancied he might be a species of demigod, and obnoxious to them. ‘It is possible,’ said he inwardly, ‘that this man may really be that king of the Jews concerning whose coming there are so many prophecies. It was a king of the Jews whom the Magi came from the East to adore. Perhaps he is a secret enemy both of our gods and of the emperor; it might be most imprudent in me to spare his life. Who knows whether his death would not be a triumph to my gods?’ Then he remembered the wonderful dreams described to him by his wife, who had never seen Jesus, and he again changed, and decided that it would be safer not to condemn him. He tried to persuade himself that he wished to pass a just sentence; but he deceived himself, for when he asked himself, ‘What is the truth?’ he did not wait for the answer. His mind was filled with confusion, and he was quite at a loss how to act, as his sole desire was to entail no risk upon himself.”


4) The Passion of Jesus and Its Hidden Meaning by James Groenings

I haven’t read this book yet, by Rev. James Groenings. S.J, but it caught my attention and I just ordered it.

This book is a little more dense; it doesn’t have short, readable passages like Divine Intimacy or Cultivating virtue, but if you’re the type of person who loves diving deep, this might be for you.


EXCERPT

“This fall of the prince of the apostles is the most possible sermon on the necessity of carefully avoiding ssinfull occasions. The company of the godless shook the powerful rock and uprooted the mighty cedar of Lebanon. “In the presence of the servants of the high-priests,” writes venerable Bede, “Peter denied knowing him as man, whom he had confessed to be the son of God when among his fellow apostles.”

What then should they not fear who, without necessity, are continually mingling with outsiders and enemies of the faith, yeah who even prefer to choose their friends from among them. They are indeed Catholics who bear close resemblance to the reed, as far as their firmness in the faith is concerned.”

5) The Spiritual Combat: and a Treatise on Peace of Soul by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli

The Spiritual Combat can be placed in the same category as the Imitation of Christ, in that it has short passages that you can focus on, if you desdire to work on the interior life.

Excerpt

“Let there always be a vigilant sentinel in your soul which will discover anything that might trouble or disturb your conscience. At its first alarm, seize your weapons to defend yourself. Remember that all these evils, and a great many others, no matter how formidable their appearance, are but imaginary for they cannot deprive you of any real good. Consider this fact. Whether God decrees or permits these things for the reasons given above, or for others which we should certainly consider equitable, they are hidden from our comprehension.

You will find it greatly advantageous to preserve a calm mind through all the events in your life. Without it, your pious exercises will be fruitless.

I am convinced that, if the heart is troubled, the enemy is ever able to strike us, and as much as he wishes. Moreover, in that state we are not capable of discerning the true path to follow, the snares that must be avoided to attain virtue.

The enemy detests this peace. For he knows that this is the place where the spirit of God dwells, and that God now desires to accomplish great things in us. Consequently he employs his most devilish means to destroy this peace. He suggests various things that  apparently are good. It is a trap; you will soon discover that these desires will destroy the peace of your heart.”



6) On the Passion of Christ: According to the Four Evangelists: Prayers and Meditations, by Thomas a Kempis (Author), Joseph N. Tylenda (Translator)

Thomas Kempis is mostly known for his wonderful book loved by all, The Imitation of Christ.  However, did you know he also wrote On the Passion of Christ: According to the Four Evangelists: Prayers and Meditations?

Anything by Thomas Kempis, is a must!

EXCERPT

“Cleanse me, Lord Jesus, from the contagion of material possessions. Close me with true virtue and grab me to rejoice when I meet with contempt. When I find myself deprive of necessities, may I borrow this with meekness, and went all garments are giving me rather than new or when somethings shabby is offered me rather than some thing of quality, let me not be offended. Let me know I complain about those laugh at me or argue with those reproach me, bye-bye my remembering your crown of thorns may I calmly except for the sake of my salvation whatever pain in the flexion make on my way.”


7) Flowers of the Passion by St John of the Cross

This book is a collection of the thoughts and sentiments of St Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists. St Paul had a passion for Christ’s Passion and he meditated constantly on his passion.

Lent is a wonderful time to meditate on our Lord’s passion.

One word of caution. Some of the reprints are not top quality (some have small font and some are not full width), but the contents are powerful!

Excerpt

Let the earth be silent before the great God. I repeat it : I would fain say many things, but I feel as one dumb.”

Listen to your divine Spouse, and let yourself be taught by Him.

O my God, teach me how to express myself.

Would that I were all aflame with love ! More than that : would that I could sing hymns of praise in the fire of love,and extol the marvellous mercies that uncreated love has bestowed on us! Is it not truly a duty to thank God for His gifts ? Yes, doubtless, but I know not how. I wish to do so, and I know nothow.

To faint away with the desire to love this great God more and more is little.

To consume ourselves for Him is little.”


8) The Cries of Jesus from the Cross: A Fulton Sheen Anthology, by Ven. Fulton J. Sheen

At the time of this post, I just ordered the book, but if you love Fulton Sheen, you’ll love this book.

“As death approaches, the human heart speaks its greatest words of love to those it holds most dear. So it was with Jesus who in His final hours gave us seven last “words” rich with spiritual meaning for every human soul.

For the first time ever, Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s complete writings and reflections on Christ’s last words have been compiled into this one book. Sheen shows how the seven words are, in fact, a full catechism on the spiritual life. From them, you’ll learn the secrets to living the Beatitudes, ways to avoid the deadly vices of anger, envy, lust, and pride, and how to cultivate the heavenly virtues of fortitude, prudence, justice, and charity.

Few books are such an inspiring call to sanctity, and few books are such a spiritual powerhouse.”


9) The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ, by St Alphonsus Liguori

This is volume 5 of 22, of the The Aesthetical Works of St Alphonsus Liguori. St Alphonsus is a doctor of the Church and patron Saint of Moralists and Confessors.

This book is helpful in meditating on the love that Jesus had for us while on the cross, as well aas all he suffered.

These are the books, I will be reading from this Lent. Let us know if you try any of these books and if you would recommend them.

What other books are you reading?


Read Online

If you’d rather not purchase books, you can read the following books for free online.

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