This Lent, as in previous years, the Dominican students in Oxford will be offering daily meditations on the Scriptural readings for the Mass. Reflections on the Stations of the Cross will be video-recorded and shared with you over the coming weeks. We hope you will keep coming back to Godzdogz
as we walk together towards the Cross on Good Friday, and the triumph of the Resurrection at Easter.
Meanwhile, we would like to share some ideas for good books to read during Lent. There's a wide range here, with plenty of ways to develop our spiritual life and return to the loving mercy and kindness of God in this season of preparation. Do let us know if you found these books helpful!
1) Praying with Confidence,
by Fr Paul Murray OP
Dominican Fr Paul Murray, a son of the Irish Province currently teaching Spiritual Theology at the Angelicum, examines the Lord's prayer with the help of St Thomas Aquinas OP.
, by St Faustina
“My daughter, be diligent in writing down every sentence I tell you concerning My mercy, because this is meant for a great number of souls who will profit from it” (Diary
1142). This remarkable testimony about meeting Saint Faustina with Jesus can be found in her Diary
. She was a great mystic who lived at the beginning of the 20th century and during her very short life (33 years), Jesus appeared to her many times. She became ‘a secretary of Divine Mercy’ who reminded people the truth about merciful and compassionate love of God for every human being. In this book, God Himself tells us about His Mercy from which none is excluded. The full text of Saint Faustina’s Diary
can be found here
3) The Examen Prayer,
by Fr Timothy Gallagher OMV
A small and very readable book, introducing the reader to a way of foraging around for the God is speaking to us in our daily lives.
4) Our Saviour and His Love for Us,
by Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange OP
To get to know Jesus we should ask the person who knows Him best: His Bride! Garrigou-Lagrange makes the introductions with a thorough, yet accessible, assent through the Church’s doctrine of the Son of God and His mission on Earth. By explaining how the Church understands things like the Incarnation, Redemption, and Resurrection the author not only shows his reader the invaluable theology of the Church but also lets him get a glimpse at the inexhaustible magnificence of the Saviour and His unending love for us. Garrigou-Lagrange teaches the doctrine, and shows why it matters to our spiritual life.
5) The Way of Paradox,
by Dom Cyprian Smith OSB
A monk of Ampleforth Abbey presents the German Dominican Meister Eckhart's teaching on the spiritual life: German medieval mystical theology meets contemporary Anglo-Saxon pragmatism.
6) Simple Prayer,
by Fr John Dalrymple
The conviction of John Dalrymple is that prayer is the most important element in Christian living. In this beautiful reissue of his bestselling Simple Prayer, he writes explicitly on prayer, teaching that the simple silent prayer of contemplation is attainable for anyone who seeks to try. What unfolds is a mature yet accessible consideration of all aspects of prayer and how it connects with politics, liberation, poverty, spiritual reading and the experience of the Dark Night. This book makes ideal lenten reading for spiritual development.
7) The Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
by Archbishop Alban Goodier SJ
This is a book which I first read when I was 18 and have returned to time and again - particularly during Holy Week. The secret to this book is the way in which Goodier movingly describes the sheer drama of Christ’s passion and death, often reading 'in between the lines' of the Gospel accounts; the text uniquely combines scripture scholarship, knowledge of the Holy Land, and what is clearly a deep prayer life on the part of the author. Perhaps second only to the Bible itself, I could recommend no better work to enter into the depths of Christ’s loving sacrifice. The book is sadly no longer in print but can be obtained from a good library, second-hand, or on the Kindle.
8) Contemplative Provocations,
by Fr Donald Haggerty
Despite being a slim volume, there is a great deal of depth in this book. Designed to help us understand how to deepen our relationship with God, it consists of a series of provocative and stimulating reflections on the life of prayer that offer genuine hope and consolation. One excerpt may help give a flavour of the wisdom it contains: “After a while, if our soul grows in the poverty of contemplative prayer, silence is simply a veneer of the divine concealment. It does not keep us from God’s presence; it is not an obstacle in prayer no matter how dry or empty it seems.”
9) The Cloud of Unknowing
If it seems odd for a Dominican to recommend this apparently anti-intellectual book, remember that our own tradition has a strong mystical and ‘apophatic’ current, not just in the likes of Meister Eckhart but even in the careful theology of Thomas Aquinas. The Cloud of Unknowing
was written anonymously in late medieval England, perhaps by a Carthusian. It stresses the beauty, the grace and the joy of contemplation of God, who remains ultimately beyond our categories of knowledge. Here you will find advice on how to pray, the need for Confession, and the message that, ‘basically, love means a radical personal commitment to God.’