I wanted to list some of the books I'm reading this time around:
Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry (Diane Allen)
I chose this one because I had a deep desire to know more about St. Pio... and I was not disappointed. While the stories of miraculous healings and bilocation are amazing, it was his ministry to others in the confessional that left me awed. The Lord gave him the ability to "read souls" (for want of a better term), which produced a holy fear in the hearts of all those around him. The people who came to him for confession who were repentant and humble were comforted with the love of a spiritual father... those who tried to puff themselves up, or hide their sins, or have a proud attitude, were oftentimes chastised and thrown out. It was this "tough love" that brought them back, truly repentant this time, over and over again.
My initial thought while reading this was, "I would be terrified to be in the presence of this man... what would he say to me?"
Then I realized that if my reaction to him was one of deference and fear, what more should I feel in the presence of a Holy God?
Yes, I realize that His Mercy most definitely needs to come into play, here... but it doesn't hurt to have strong reminders that He is a Holy God, and I am a sinner in desperate need of a Savior.
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (C.S. Lewis)
I'm still in the middle of this one, and loving it... of course. So far the best quote is this one:
"All may yet be well. This is true. Meanwhile you have the waiting... and while you wait, you still have to go on living -- if only one could go underground, hibernate, sleep it out. And then... the horrible by-products of anxiety; the incessant, circular movement of the thoughts, even the Pagan temptation to keep watch for irrational omens. And one prays; but mainly such prayers as are themselves a form of anguish.
"Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don't agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ. For the beginning of the Passion -- the first move, so to speak -- is in Gethsemane. In Gethsemane a very strange and significant thing seems to have happened.
"It is clear from many of His sayings that Our Lord had long foreseen His death. He knew what conduct such as His, in a world such as we have made of this, must inevitably lead to. But it is clear that this knowledge must somehow have been withdrawn from Him before He prayed in Gethsemane. He could not, with whatever reservation about the Father's will, have prayed that the cup might pass and simultaneously known that it would not. That is both a logical and physical impossibility. You see what this involves? Lest any trial incident to humanity should be lacking, the torments of hope -- of suspense, anxiety -- were at the last moment loosed upon Him -- the supposed possibility that, after all, He might, He just conceivably might, be spared the supreme horror. There was precedent. Isaac had been spared: he too at the last moment, he also against all apparent probability. It was not quite impossible...
"We all try to accept with some sort of submission our afflictions when they actually arrive. But the prayer in Gethsemane shows that the preceding anxiety is equally God's will and equally part of our human destiny. The perfect Man experienced it. And the servant is not greater than the master. We are Christians, not Stoics."
Shirt of Flame (Heather King)
I have absolutely loved her other two books: Parched and Redeemed, so when I saw that one of my favorite authors had written a book about one of my favorite saints (St. Therese), I knew this had to go on my list. I look forward to settling in and savoring every bit of this.
Wish You Were Here (Amy Welborn)
I had the privilege of meeting Amy, her husband, and her two small sons at a blogging conference many years ago. She is a well-known Catholic blogger who wrote this book after losing her husband suddenly. While I find the subject matter heartrending and terrifying, I long to read how Jesus has carried her through even something as devastating as this.
In addition to these wonderful books that have already given me so much to think about, I downloaded Audrey Assad's new album "Heart," which has been a constant on my iPod ever since.
Need a preview? How about this:
I find the words so comforting and so haunting:
"My faith is not a fire
As much as it's a glow
A little burning ember in my weary soul
And it's not too much
It's just enough to get me home
'Cause your love moves slow
Not that I'm ever going to meet her, of course, but if I could, I would say thank you, Audrey, for writing the words I'd never be able to get out... and yet describe my inner life so well.
May God continue to bless you all during Lent!