Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lent & Easter: Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton --- A Review

Clearly I should stop requesting seasonal books to review, as it takes me so long to get to them. In the middle of Lent last year, I saw this title as a review option and jumped at the chance for a copy. For I love to read Chesterton. His wisdom is timeless. Recently, I found a draft of a review handwritten and decided this is an ideal time to finally post it and fulfill my obligation to

Lent and Easter: Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton by the Center for the Study of C.S. Lewis and Friends is truly a gem! The book, like several in this series, is divided into two parts: Readings for Lent and Readings for Easter. Readings for Lent includes forty-six daily meditations beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Holy Saturday. Readings for Easter contains eight daily meditations covering the Octave of Easter from Easter Sunday through the Second Sunday of Easter.

Each meditation includes a carefully chosen excerpt from one of Chesterton's writings, a Scripture verse or two that ties into the spiritual theme presented, a brief prayer, and a Lenten Action. The excerpts include portions of Chesterton's nonfiction works, as well as quotes from characters in his works of fiction and lines of his poetry. Their topics range from asceticism to hospitality to miracles. The Scriptures are an excellent elaboration on Chesterton's own words, and the prayers help the reader focus on his/her own life. Each prayer leads one to examine his/her soul in light of some personal conversion called for in the Scripture quoted and turned into practical application with the "Lenten Action" paragraph. These action items are diverse and simple to do, yet always challenging the reader to a deeper practice of his/her faith.

I especially enjoyed how the Chesterton quotes, incredibly deep by themselves, lead to even deeper meditations by the addition of Scripture and prayer. For example, we read how God created "a play he had planned as perfect but which...left to human actors...made a great mess of it," from Chesterton's Orthodoxy, identifying the reality of free will. Yet 1 Corinthians 15:22 reminds us "all will be made alive in Christ." Then, in prayer, we are reminded that God "sent [His] son what no human could," to cover our many sins and wash us clean. Finally, the suggested Lenten Action asks us to choose a Biblical movie to watch and reflect back on Chesterton's analogy.

To be entirely honest, I cannot wait to read these meditations this coming Lent and Easter. In fact, the slim volume is one I will slip in my nightstand where I keep books of quotations and short meditations to read when I can get a few minutes of quiet to myself from the chaos of my busy family! I love that the entire reading for each day takes less than five minutes, but the potential for spiritual growth through these thought-provoking meditations is endless.

This review is a part of the Catholic Book Review Program.