5 Bold Books For Your Lenten Journey


5 Books For Your Lenten Journey

“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days” (Luke 4:1-2)

It’s 11:45 pm and I’m a little bit hungry and thirsty. I have only 14 minutes to quench that thirst and satiate my appetite. As the minutes quickly tick by, I drink my last swig of beer and munch on the last crumbs of bacon. Lent and my Lenten austerities begin at precisely 12 o’clock midnight on Ash Wednesday. I have my list of penances carefully written out and posted on the fridge, and my lenten reading sitting on the dining room table waiting to be read.

Over the years my Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday routine hasn’t changed much. My list of penances has remained relatively constant too. The one thing that has changed over the years is my Lenten reading. I want to offer to you my top 5 list of books for Lent.

Are any of these books on your Lenten reading list?Click To Tweet

1. Introduction to the Devout Life

by St. Francis De Sales

The Introduction to the Devout Life is my favorite spiritual book of all time and ranks #1 on my list of best Lenten books. The Introduction is simply that, an introduction. It is basic advice for basic spiritual principles and practices. My lofty lenten practices and austerities often make me forget the little things and it is faithfulness in the little things that make us holy. (See Luke 16:10)

Lent is about getting back to the basics and this is a great book for doing just that. If you choose this to be your Lenten spiritual reading, skip over the first part, and start directly with the second part since the second part is where the advice begins. St. Francis will discusses many topics that will help make your Lent very fruitful. I guarantee it!

Skip the first part of the Intro to the Devout Life if you are reading it for Lent, and go straight to Part Two. Click To Tweet

2. The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
This is a recent addition to my list of best Lenten books. I started reading it late in Lent a couple of years ago and really wished I had started it earlier because it is just so good.

This book is one of the visions received by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, a 19th century German mystic. Her writings have been judged by the Church to contain nothing contrary to the Faith. Keep in mind they are private revelations and not Gospel truth, so they can either be believed or discounted. I think her visions are fascinating since the fill in the gospel accounts of the Passion with very interesting details.

In fact, these visions were the source of inspiration for Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ. Have you ever wondered about that man carrying the water jug that provides the room for the last supper? Where was Mary during the last supper? What the heck motivated Peter to deny Christ?

Have you read the book that inspired the movie The Passion? #BooksForLentClick To Tweet

If you are a visual person like me and need a picture to meditate on, this book will provide that mental picture. It sets the scene for the Passion and will help you enter into the mystery of His love and sacrifice in a more profound way.

3. The Passion and The Death of Jesus Christ

by St. Alphonsus De Liguori

Growing up we attended Stations of the Cross as a family. My parish always did the meditations written by St. Alphonsus. I became very attached to those love-filled meditations and the saint who wrote them. This book is very similar to his Stations of the Cross meditations, profound yet loving.

St. Alphonsus dives into Our Lord’s Passion by giving us both reflections and prayers on many of the specific events. The scourging at the pillar, the crowning with thorns, the Lord’s encounter with Pilate are just a few of the mysteries that you will meditate on. If you read St. Alphonsus’ meditations on the Passion for Lent, even the stoniest and coldest of hearts will melt with love and gratitude for what the Lord endured for us sinners.

4. The Imitation of Christ

by Thomas a Kempis
For 500 years, The Imitation of Christ has influenced and guided Christians on the path of holiness. Even great saints like St. Therese of Lisieux read this powerful little book. The chapters are short and cover all the fundamental principles of the spiritual life. Even though this book was written for religious (monks, nuns, and priests), the lay person can also benefit much from the spiritual advice.

The chapters are short and I normally read a few chapters each day of Lent. I make a conscious effort that day to live out those chapters each day. After I read what Thomas a Kempis writes about humility, I normally get a nice large piece of humble pie. When the author speaks on the usefulness of adversity, I will inevitably suffer adversity at work that will have to be overcome. If you read this book for Lent, I can assure that you will get a good Lenten spiritual workout.

A few chapters of the Imitation of Christ a day is like doing 50 reps in the gym of your soul. Click To Tweet

5. Resisting Happiness

by Matthew Kelly

This is a recent addition to my list of greatest Lenten books. My parish gave it out at Christmas time and I was finished with it by the new year. I plan on picking it back up for Lent.

I want to be happy. God wants me to be happy. So why am I unhappy sometimes? Because I resist it! Matthew Kelly calls it Resistance, and the desert Fathers and spiritual writers for centuries call it acedia, or sloth. It doesn’t matter what you call it, we all suffer from it. The author is down to earth and gives so many examples from his own life on how he faced resistance. He spells out a great blueprint on how to overcome resistance in our own lives. Lent is a time of spiritual combat and this is a great field manual to resist the Resistance. But don’t forget to visit the field hospital, i.e. Confession.

Lent for me is a time of reflection. I like to retreat from the busyness of everyday life, turn off the technology, and pick up a book. These are my favorite Lenten books. What are yours?



  1. JuliAnn-117132 March 13, 2017 Reply

    Our pastor sent a flock note to all parishioners asking them to participate in Matthew’s daily meditations for Lent. They are all based on the book Resisting Happiness. So far, I have found it helpful and a good amount of people are following it. I have the book as well.

  2. Candido-1395241 March 11, 2017 Reply

    Spiritual Psalter – St.Ephraim of Syria
    Ladder of Divine Assent -St. John Climacus
    St. Gregory the Theologian on Pascha (in preparation for the feast of feasts)

  3. Sue-906387 March 11, 2017 Reply

    Rediscover Jesus by Matt Kelly is Great devotional for Lent. It is divided into 40 small chapters making it ideal for Lent. Happy Lent to all!

  4. Ann-819902 March 11, 2017 Reply

    Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)’s Jesus of Nazareth. And a book that is always timely, St. Augustine’s Confessions.

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