Lent is a time for reflection. We asked some of our contributors to tell us what they are reading for this special 40 days.
FR PHILLIP CARAMAN SJ I AM READING ST Francis de Sales's Introduction to a Devota Life, (1609). I find it beautifully written and full of the most original ways of comparing the human predicament with the aniumal world, with flowers, bees, the wild boar, even the peacock.
SR LAVINIA BYRNE IBVM I HAVE FOUND THE Faber Book of 20th Century inmens' Verse makes interesting spiritual reading. There's a wonderfully funny poem called "When I grow Old" by Jenny Joseph. Its about someone who has nothing left to lose and is able to fully be themselves. I think of it as a poem about freedom, like the journey of Lent through the wilderness to the Resurrection.
BARONESS JAMES (PD JAmEs) I WELL BE READING one prayer, morning and evening, from The Book of Common Prayer. It is the prayer book with which I was brought up and is an incomparable book of prayer and praise in incomprable languge and its prayers are as relevant to me today as they have ever been,
THE FINAL REPORT of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters, which runs to over 3,000 pages and is Lenten penance enough!
DAVID ALTON MP
THOMAS A KEMPIS'S Imitation of Christ is a wonderful guide to the discipline of the Christian life but in Lent we need to be inspired and I am reading Thecla Merlo by Domenico Agasso (St Paul). Merlo was co-founder of the Daughters of St Paul who, in the 20s and 30s, set about the evangelisation of Europe via the printing press.
THE ESSAYS OF Francis Bacon are lovely. They're short and one can read them in individual "sessions". Although Bacon was writing in the 16th century, what he says about the human condition is as true and meaningful today and although they are not specifically holy, they're thoughtful in a Christian context.
FR JOHN MILLS OP
I AM RE-READING The Cloud of Unknowing. I find myself that going back to the classics is the most rewarding reading in Lent. I find The Cloud of Unknowing forces me to face myself in a way that a lot of modem paperback spirituality doesn't.
ONE OF THE BEST guides for bruised pilgrims on the Lent journey is Oh God, Why? by Gerard Hughes,. Another I find helpful is Love Unknown by John Barton which is a mix of feminist spirituality and meditation on the gospels.
I ALWAYS COME BACK to George Herbert. The poem I love to read is "The forerunners", especially its last line: "Go birds of spring; let winter have his fee) Let oblique paleness chalk the door/ So all within be livelier than before". It so wonderfully evokes the sense of Lenten purpose through the coldness and the dread.
PIERS PAUL READ
HANS-URS VON Balthasar's The Way of the Cross (St Paul)is a meditation on the Stations of the Cross which the Pope used in his 1988 Good Friday service and it
helps me meditate on the Passion.
GREG POPE MP TiE MOST UPLIFTING book I can think of for Lent is Some Other Rainbow by John McCarthy and Jill Morrell which says such a lot about the tenacity and faith of human beings.
WE HAVE TRIED TO introduce the idea of family prayers with our five children for Lent and we have found two books especially helpful. One is Jesus Christ The Way, the Truth and the Life by David Konstant (Collins) and the other is The Grail Psalms (Collins) which is a new translation and perhaps a bit more grown up.
BEST STICK TO THE classics. This year I am trying to gain a foothold on the bottom rung of Walter Hilton's Ladder of Perfection. Someone has just given me Thomas Keneally's Schindler's Ark. This is, of course, perfect reading for Lent.
HENRI NOUV/EN'S NEw book, The Return of the Prodigal Son is, to my mind the best, and simplest, spiritual book written in the last 20 or so years. Read, work, and pray through this book and you will be more ready for Easter than perhaps you have been for a long time. MELANIE MC.DONAGH BROTHER LAWRENCE'S Practice of the Presence of God is ideal for Lent in that it corresponds exactly with one's own experience of God as not something which one just clocks into but which surrounds one all the time.
I ALWAYS LOVE SECTION 36 of the Sumna Theologica by Thomas Aquinus in which he talks about prudence. I do find meditation very hard and like to remember that helpful dictum of Eric Gill: "to labour is to pray".
I AM READING Mickllemarch, along with the rest of the country who didn't manage to finish it first time round. If you want to see how a little suffering and a lot of love can change a pretentious prig into something of a secular saint watch Dorothea closely.
I AM READING LEO Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is Within You. I've just returned from India where Tolstoy was a great inspiration to Gandhi.
JULIAN FILOCHOWSK1 THE 14TH ANNIVERSARY of the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero falls during Lent, so I will be reading his diary, The Shepherd's Diary. It is a great insight into a martyr and a hero to all those who are working for human rights.