Wednesday 7 April 2021

Praying the Our Father in Lent - Carl E. Olson - CTS Devotions

Praying the Our Father in Lent
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784696719
CTS Booklet D834

Over the last several years, I have read over 175 volumes from the CTS. I have read books from many series. And many authors. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. I have read many books for Lent and Easter both from the CTS and other sources. This however is the first by Carl E. Olson that I have read, and I believe it is his only book with the CTS. The description of the booklet is:

“When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he taught them the Our Father. These meditations illuminate the words of the Lord’s Prayer as an essential part of the spiritual journey from Lent to Easter.

“This is the best collection of Lenten reflections I have come across. Olson writes in a style that is accessible to anyone but the text is not dumbed down to the lowest denominator. It is rich in sources and insights and tidbits of theological information that really add flavour to each reflection. The style is engaging and the tone is that of one intelligent friend speaking to another intelligent friend – 'sheep to sheep' – as it were.”

And the chapters in the book are:

Part One: Lent And The “Our Father”
An Introduction
True Love Means Knowing His Name
The End is Here
Supernatural Will Power
Everlasting Daily Bread
Forgive, For Eucharist’s Sake
Please, Don’t Tempt Me!
Easter Delivers Us From Evil

Part Two: Praying Your Way Through Lent
A Week-By-Week Scriptural Guide
Ash Wednesday
First Week of Lent
Second Week of Lent
Third Week of Lent
Fourth Week of Lent
Fifth Week of Lent

The book begins with these words:

“Ashes. Prayer. Fasting. Confession. Supplication. Repentance. 

This is the language of Lent, that sacred time of reflection and self-examination, a forty-day journey into the desert. It begins on Ash Wednesday, when a charred cross is traced across our brows, a reminder of our mortality: “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” That simple act is also a reminder that the brow of the Son of Man was marked with thorns and blood, with love and sacrifice. At Lent, the disciple is called to follow more closely in the steps of his master, to take up the cross, and to follow him into the wilderness in preparation for the Paschal Triduum.”

And that sets up the purpose and tone for the volume. Later in that introduction Olsen states:

“His forty days and nights revisited the forty years spent by the Israelites in the desert following their passage through the Red Sea. The three temptations Jesus faced were the same temptations faced by the chosen people of the Old Covenant: choosing physical comfort over obedience to God, loudly demanding God’s miraculous intervention rather than quietly trusting in him, and attempting to succeed without suffering. 

These ancient temptations are timeless, as attractive and deadly today as they were centuries ago.”

And As the book is written around the Our Father he says:

“Prayer and fasting are companions on the Lenten path. Fasting from bodily food during Lent, especially on Ash Wednesday, demands an increase in spiritual food. The hunger felt by the body should intensify the hunger felt for the Word of God, for Holy Communion, and for the presence of the Spirit. The work of the Son and the Holy Spirit is to bring hungering humanity to the Father, and the Our Father orientates the thirsting soul towards the Father’s will and kingdom.

From there the first part of the book is a study of the Our Father and the Second is guided Prayer through Lent. In the first chapter it is stated:

“The Christian life, including Lent, is about true and eternal love, and true love longs to be in the presence of the one loved. So, when we pray the Our Father, we first place ourselves in his presence. This is what Jesus does when he journeys in the desert: “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days.” If Lent is going to take us into a deeper relationship with the Father, we need to begin by first being in that relationship.”

Each chapter in the first part of the book ends with a multipoint reflection. A sample is:


• Each of us wants to know what God’s will is for our lives. But how often do we think of God’s will in terms of redemption and salvation? Are we open to sharing the gospel with friends and colleagues? 

• Are we sometimes silent about our love for Jesus when someone mocks Christianity? This week, try to spend some time in prayer asking God to give you strength and encouragement in those situations. Consider how you can spread the Good News with those around you. 

• Is there an area of your life that you still haven’t given to God? If so, why not? What is holding you back from surrendering that part of your life to him? Pray and meditate on the prayer of Jesus: “Father, not my will, but yours be done. Amen.””

That second part of the book follows the readings of the three-year cycle. We are told:

“What follows is a scripture-based guide to praying during Lent, drawing on the readings for Ash Wednesday and the five Sunday of Lent from all three Cycles (A, B, and C). Each short reflection is meant for personal contemplation and prayer, and to accompany the public, communal, and liturgical prayers of the Church, all of which are ultimately focused upon and find their deepest meaning in the Eucharist, “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324).”

These reflections vary from a few paragraphs to a few pages. And each ends with a prayer.

I really enjoyed reading this volume. And know I will work through it again next year over Lent. It was a great book to work through. But I would love to see Olsen do a daily devotion for Lent or Advent. But if you are looking for a great volume to read over Lent, I can highly recommend this one. It is another great resource from the Catholic Truth Society! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews of other books in the CTS Devotions series click here.

Books by Carl E. Olson:
Will Catholics Be Left Behind?
The Da Vinci Hoax
Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?
Catholicism Study Guide
Called to Be the Children of God

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