Lent reading- part one

Lent is fast approaching and now is the time to order the reading material to ensure you spend this devotional season deepening your knowledge and love of the faith. Below are the first suggestions as to what you might read. Do use the comments thread to share your own ideas. More next week.


Lord of the world                        Robert Hugh Benson           

A short novel, written in 1908, regarding an apocalyptic vision of the end of the world. Although the predictions of future technology are dated- the insights and warnings about the modern age remain eerily apposite. 

Screwtape letters             C. S. Lewis

A classic work of fiction in which correspondence in shared between a junior demon and his master regarding the desired downfall of his subject – an average man. Contains much wisdom about the nature of sin. 

The Power and the glory Graham Greene

How does good spoil and how can rot be redeemed? That is the central question within this tale of the whiskey priest who, despite his many failings, can’t quite let go of his vocation. It poses many deep and interesting questions regarding the effect of grace on the fallen world.


Lent with Pope Benedict XVI   

Daily reflections for Lent written by the greatest living theologian, the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. 

The Smoke of Satan         Philip Lawler         

A difficult read in that it explores the abuse crisis in the church and corruption and failings in the Vatican. But useful, necessary and containing answers for how the laity can help bring about healing and restoration.

Fires of faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor Eamon Duffy 

Shorter than his epic ‘Stripping the altars’ this book explores life in England during the tumultuous period of Mary’s rule. Duffy’s gift to academia has been to help untangle truth from the many myths that still perpetuate, due to cultural bias, regarding this most difficult period in English history.

Evangelical Catholicism George Weigel

In this book Weigel argues that the Catholic Church is in a process of historic change and stands on the threshold of a bold new era. The institutional and tribal belonging of previous generations is giving way to an authentic Evangelical Catholicism for the third millennium…bring it on!

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2 thoughts on “Lent reading- part one

  1. Thank you for the reading list, Father Ed. I have already purchased ‘The Smoke of Satan’, based on your recommendation. I will be particularly interested to read what Philip Lawler has to say about how the laity can play a part in improving the Church. I wonder if his view will be similar to what I think you were saying in your previous post (the transcript of your recent sermon) about what I would call bottom-up reform. You wrote about the answer to corruption “cultivated from grass roots up” and about making “this little church [in Pembury] a place of authentic discipleship”.

    But I have to admit that I am not holding my breath about the possibility of honourable lay Catholics being able to exert any real influence over the powers that be in the Church. Think about what has happened just in the last fortnight. First of all we had Alessandro Gisotti (from the Holy See Press Office) telling the world that the Vatican’s guidelines for dealing with priests fathering children are secret. Why the secrecy? Why the lack of transparency? (You yourself have called for such transparency on this very blog, I seem to recall.) Then last week we had the Papal summit. Well, the image that has stayed in my mind from that event were the press photographs showing a sea of scarlet in front of a sea of purple in front of a small number of less glamorously attired folk. In other words the cardinals sat at the front, with the bishops behind them and (a handful of) lay people behind the bishops. What a powerful symbol of the Vatican’s obsession with precedence, deference and hierarchy (with a small ‘h’). And this physical separation was not just unfortunate symbolism but surely represented a lost opportunity for dialogue. As someone who used to organise and speak at conferences and professional training events before I retired, I know that very often the participants learned far more from informal conversations with those they happened to sit next to than from the formal presentations. I think the bishops and cardinals missed an important opportunity. Each of them could have made a point of sitting next to an ‘ordinary’ person. They might have learned some useful things! Instead they opted for a seating arrangement that seemed (at least to me) to scream “Get thee behind me, laity”.

  2. Not exactly Lenten reading but paying careful attention to the word of The Lord’s Prayer can make one think. I know of a rather judgemental (not a Catholic) person who became aware that he was asking The Lord to judge him as he judged others. Hopefully that has changed his outlook.

    Another, to me at least, thought provoking item is the wording of “Be Still My Soul”. To me the best sung version is on an Izzy ‎– Ascolta cd. There are Youtube versions, including one by Izzy and one by The Priests, but not with as clear sound quality.

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