Refocus for a Deep, Sacred Lenten Season


Deer stroll along our lake in plain view every day … yet if you don’t look for them, it’s easy to miss them!

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

We can all go on autopilot during the year, right? Lent is the right time to get out of it … to go deep, to seek – and see – the sacred.

In my Benedictine community, the Sisters give a lot of thought to their Lenten resolutions. They choose spiritual reading to help guide and support them. Maybe some of their thoughts and suggestions will help you!

Sister Bobbi: I like reading reflections by Henri Nouwen and Carroll Stuhlmeuller.  Stuhlmiller was a wonderful writer and my favorite theologian.

Sister Susan: One of my favorite Lenten books is an old one:  The Crucified Jesus Is No Stranger, by Sebastian Moore. When much was being written about the mystery of the resurrection and hope, there was very little being written about the mystery of the death of Jesus.

This book was written I understand so develop a spirituality about that.  One  particularly interesting chapter title is “Jesus joins the Father in the heart of the believer.”

It is one I usually pull off the library shelf during Holy Week – just to ponder again the mystery of our own death to sin.

Sister Sandra: Each year I try to do some reading focused on Jesus and His ministry.  This year I will read Inclusivity, A Gospel Mandate by Diarmuid O’Murchu.

The author is an Irish priest who has written many books that I find stimulating.  I have chosen this one now because I believe it will help me relate Jesus’ teaching to important issues we are facing in our culture today.

Sister Rosemary Murphy: These 40 days of prayer and practices – including fasting and accepting of situations – lead us into deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Look at The Ascent of the Mountain of God: Daily Reflections for the Journey of Lent, by Edward Hays.

Sister Denise: Lent is a time for me to go the extra mile for other people. It’s a time to renew my commitment to really active listening, to be really present to others.

Sister Cecile: I hope every day that I get closer to God, but during Lent I hope to be more dedicated and present to my prayer.

Sister Sheila: Lent is a time to step back and reassess what’s important, to see where I am in my spiritual life, where I am in my prayer, where I am with others. It’s a quiet, reflective time. You might read Ashes to Easter: Lenten Meditations by Robert F. Morneau.

Sister Charlotte: This is a time of renewal of my commitment to Jesus Christ, to nurture new life within for the journey to resurrection. A good book to read is  Seeking His Mind: 40 Meetings with Christ, by M. Basil Pennington, OSCO.

Sister Marlene: I look forward to more prayer, more quiet, more solitude and less food … although God may have another plan, who knows?

Sister Mary Core: Now is the time to do a little offering up of things, to do some extra reading, sacrificing. You might think of it as spring cleaning of the spirit! Try Humility Matters, by Mary Margaret Funk, OSB or An Explanation of the Rule of Benedict, by Hildegard of Bingen and Hugh Feiss.

Sister Ruth: This is a time to live more intensely the Pascal Mystery; the core of our faith; the death and resurrection. Read Holy Scripture.

Sister Rita: I believe it is a time to prepare ourselves for Easter; to mend parts of our lives through thoughts and prayers.

Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino, by Joyce Rupp, is a great book for Lent. It’s the story of her pilgrimage through Spain, and how going off the trail – even though it was super hard – turned out to be totally worth it.

It helped me (Sister Stefanie) see that sometimes the greatest impact in our lives comes from going off, rather than staying on, a particular path.

This year, I’m going to read  A Glorious Dark by AJ Swoboda. I’ll let you know what I learn!

Finally, Sister Mary’s online Lenten mini-retreat may be just right for you this year. Springtime for the Soul takes you right through Easter.


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