If you are like me, you are still decompressing from the Christmas season.
The three wise men are barely headed home from Bethlehem, and as a Church, we are just wading into Ordinary Time. So, what could be more natural than to start looking ahead to Lent?! I know – I’m kidding. Sort of.
Every year, Lent catches me off guard.
What am I giving up? What am I doing extra? What are we doing to help our children prepare for Easter? More often than not, it’s Ash Wednesday and I’m late to the Lenten preparations! Consider this your Public Service Announcement for a fantastic book to order early.
A couple of years ago, one of the wise Catholics that I follow on social media (@srjulia on Instagram – give her a follow and you won’t be sorry!) recommended a book on the Station Churches in Rome. As it just so happens, my husband had recently been reminiscing on his time in Rome when the seminarians would visit the various “station churches” to celebrate mass. Being a travel junkie, a history nerd, and a Catholic in need of some good Lenten material, I made the impulsive decision and ordered Roman Pilgrimage by George Weigel (thank you, Amazon Prime).
The book is beautiful in both pictures and content.
Each day is devoted to one of the station churches in Rome. It starts with a black-and-white photo of the church, refers to the Mass readings for the day as well as those in the Office of Readings, and then includes a reflection of three to four pages that weaves in the readings, lives of saints and martyrs, Church history, etc. It concludes with a page of history on the physical station church – when it was built, to whom it was dedicated, what the centuries have done to the church, etc. Periodically, there are color photos of side altars, art, or other meaningful images from the station churches that you just NEED to see.
My impulse buy turned out to be Lenten gold.
I’m not going to lie and say that I was 100% faithful, but I will say that missed the days that I didn’t do the reflections. I found this book perfect for my Lent. There were so many gems that I was able to turn over in my mind throughout the course of the day or as I was drifting off to sleep. I enjoyed it so much that I pulled it back out last year for the second time, and my highlights and scribbles were different than the year before. I fully intend to dust it back off this year as part of my 2021 Lenten preparations.
Now all that said – I’m not ready for Lent just yet. As I said – the wise men just left the manger. There’s still Mardi Gras to enjoy. Bring on the King Cake and etouffee!
Editor’s Note: For the record, Lent 2021 begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17, so you have plenty of time to plan a trip to a local Catholic bookstore OR make an order!