We are exactly one week away from the start of the Lenten season. Even though Lent is late this year, it still seems like it sneaked up on me. After all, didn't we just finish the Christmas season? But ready or not, here it comes. So pour yourself a latte and pull up a chair - let's have a heart-to-heart.
Every Lent it seems that I resolve to give up something I like (coffee) or put into practice a spiritual habit (getting up in the morning to pray). And each Lent, after about a week, I lose my stamina and the season starts sliding downhill for me.
If you know where I'm coming from and also struggle with this beautiful season of preparation, there's hope for us yet. After all, the Church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners. And this Lent, I'm checking myself in for a serious case of spiritual neglect.
Life has been crazy for the past couple of months, and as things start to settle down, I've realized where I can improve. For me, this Lent provides an opportunity to grow closer to God in conversation and prayer - with an emphasis on my need to develop listening skills in prayer.
So I was excited to receive a book to review for the Lenten season (this is just one of two books I received - watch for another Chapter Chat post soon!) Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations by Heidi Hess Saxton could be just what the spiritual doctor ordered.
What I love about daily devotional books like this is that there is a daily appointment. In past years, to avoid the temptation to let the book slip after reading the first day, I place books that I'm reading through Lent on my pillowcase. Now I can't go to bed without picking it up and reading a short meditation.
The book is designed to be read once a day during the 40 days of Lenten preparation. Each day starts with the scripture readings from the daily Mass. Then, Heidi Saxton pulls a thought out of the readings and highlights it. For example, this is the scripture passage she selected for Ash Wednesday.
We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
After scripture, Heidi reflects on what the passages meant in the life of Saint Teresa herself. For the Ash Wednesday reflection, Heidi speaks on how we are called to love over and over, to pick up our cross of love even when it is inconvenient. Lent is not about posting our #GetYourAshToMass selfie, but about how we live the next forty days without the cross on our forehead to remind us of what this season means. Heidi ends her reflection with a quote from Saint Teresa:
I'm very happy if you can see Jesus in me, because I can see Jesus in you. But holiness is not just for a few people. It's for everyone, including you...Holiness is the greatest gift that God can give us because for that reason He created us.
Then, Heidi offers moments of reflection. Here's what the questions for Ash Wednesday look like:
- Look in the mirror and study the cross on your forehead. What kind of cross were you given to carry? Is it big and bold? Barely visible? What is God saying to you about what He wants for you this Lent?
- Is it time for you to go to confession? The Church teaches that we need to go to confession at least once a year, or whenever we are conscious of having committed serious sin (CCC 2042). Don't worry if it's been a while - God is waiting to meet you there. Don't settle for ashes alone when you can receive absolution and a fresh start!
Finally, she ends the devotion of the day with a quick prayer. Here's what the Ash Wednesday prayer looks like:
Lord Jesus, as I start my Lenten journey, I confess that I still have far to go on the "road of reconciliation." Give me the courage I need to follow you, as St. Teresa did, even when the road is hard. Holy Spirit, work in me so that one day I too might be a saint! Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.
This is the first Lent that we celebrate with Mother Teresa as a Saint - I can't think of a better way to get to know her better throughout this Lenten season.
Do you have a favorite book you're revisiting for Lent? Or perhaps you've picked up a new title to discover through this season? Tell me about it in the comments !
You can purchase the book Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations from Franciscan Media here.
* This post contains links to Franciscan Media * Although this post is sponsored by Franciscan Media, all opinions are my own. * In exchange for the review of Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations, I received a free copy of the book from Franciscan Media.