Monday 15 April 2024

The Lenten Journey Words for Lent and Easter - Pope Benedict XVI - CTS Books

The Lenten Journey: Words for Lent and Easter
Pope Benedict XVI
ISBN 9781860824197
ISBN 1860824196
CTS Booklet Do749

The Lenten Journey Words for Lent and Easter - Pope Benedict XVI - CTS Books

Over the last few years, I have read a number of books by and about Pope Benedict XVI. Of the popes in my lifetime, I find his writings of immense spiritual benefit. I would state that I underappreciated him until his resignation. And since then, I have read much. And with each piece I read I appreciate his wisdom, faith, and stand against modernism. This was another excellent read. 

The descriptions of the book is:

“Pope Benedict's homilies, speeches, and messages have proved to be as insightful and interesting as was widely predicted when he became pope. This series of messages and homilies given from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week and Easter to
Pentecost of 2006 is full of spiritual gems and inspired teaching, opening new., profound and sometimes surprising perspectives on these familiar liturgical seasons. Benedict gives encouragement to all Christians to undertake the ultimate Lenten journey "preparing ourselves to experience, after the mystery of the Cross, the joy of Easter".”

The chapters in this edition are:

Ash Wednesday: On the Road! 
New Heart, New Spirit 
The Meaning of Lent 
Fight against the Spirit of Evil 
He washes our dirty feel 
The Resurrection in us! 
Kindle 1n us the fire of your love 

I highlighted a number of passages while reading this volume, some of them are:

“Dear brothers and sisters today, with the Ash Wednesday Liturgy, the Lenten journey of 40 days begins that will lead us to the Easter Triduum, the memorial of the passion, death and Resurrection of the Lord, heart of the mystery of our salvation. It is a favourable time when the Church invites Christians to have a keener awareness of the redeeming work of Christ and to live their Baptism in greater depth.”

“With its 40-day duration, Lent has an indisputably evocative power. Indeed, it intends to recall some of the events that marked the life and history of ancient Israel, presenting its paradigmatic value anew also to us.”

“Lent, therefore, as a time of listening to the truth, is a favourable moment to convert to love, because the deep truth, the truth of God. is at the same time love.”

“May these be days of reflection and of intense prayer, in which we let ourselves be guided by the Word of God, which the liturgy offers to us in abundance. May Lent also be a time of fasting, penance and watchfulness of ourselves, and may we be convinced that the fight against sin is never-ending, because temptation is a daily reality and we all experience fragility and delusion.”

“On this penitential journey, may we be accompanied by Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, who is a teacher of listening and of faithful adherence to God. May the Virgin Most Holy help us to arrive purified and renewed in mind and in spirit, to celebrate the great mystery of Christ’s Pasch. With these sentiments, I wish you all a good and productive Lent.”

“The penitential procession with which we began today’s celebration has helped us enter the typical atmosphere of Lent, which is a personal and community pilgrimage of conversion and spiritual renewal.”

“Another symbolic rite, an exclusive gesture proper to the first day of Lent, is the imposition of ashes. What is its most significant meaning?

It is certainly not merely ritualistic, but something very deep that touches our hearts. It makes us understand the timeliness of the Prophet Joel's advice echoed in the First Reading, advice that still retains its salutary value for us: external gestures must always be matched by a sincere heart and consistent behaviour.”

“The true believer, aware of being a sinner, aspires with his whole self - spirit, heart and body - to divine forgiveness, as to a new creation that can restore joy and hope to him (cf. Ps 51150]:3, 5, 12, 14).”

“Every day, but particularly in Lent, Christians must face a struggle, like the one that Christ underwent in the desert of Judea, where for 40 days he was tempted by the devil, and then in Gethsemane, when he rejected the most severe temptation, accepting the Father’s will to the very end.”

“Lent reminds us, therefore, that Christian life is a never-ending combat in which the “weapons” of prayer, fasting and penance are used. Fighting against evil, against every form of selfishness and hate, and dying to oneself to live in God is the ascetic journey that every disciple of Jesus is called to make with humility and patience, with generosity and perseverance.”

“In Lent we will often hear re-echoing the invitation to convert and to believe in the Gospel, and we will be constantly encouraged to open our spirit to the power of divine grace. Let us cherish die abundance of teachings that the Church will be offering us in these weeks.”

“The season of Lent should not be faced with an ‘’old” spirit, as if it were a heavy and tedious obligation, but with the new spirit of those who have found the meaning of life in Jesus and in his Paschal Mystery and realize that henceforth everything must refer to him.”

“Today, the Gospel reminds us that Jesus, after being baptized in the River Jordan and impelled by the Holy Spirit who settled upon him and revealed him as the Christ, withdrew for 40 days into the Desert of Judea where he overcame the temptations of Satan (cf. Mk 1:12-13). Following their Teacher and Lord, Christians also enter the Lenten desert in spirit in order to face with him the “fight against the spirit of evil”.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, as I ask you to accompany me with your prayers, I assure you of my remembrance to the Lord, so that Lent may be for all Christians an opportunity for conversion and a more courageous effort towards holiness. For this, let us invoke the Virgin Mary’s motherly intercession.”

“To live one’s own life as a continual entry into this open space: this is the meaning of being baptized, of being Christian. This is the joy of the Easter Vigil. The Resurrection is not a thing of the past, the Resurrection has reached us and seized us. We grasp hold of it, we grasp hold of the risen Lord, and we know that he holds us firmly even when our hands grow weak.”

“Prior to the Ascension into Heaven, he ordered them “not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father” (cf. Ac 1:4-5); that is, he asked them to stay together to prepare themselves to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And they gathered in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room, awaiting the promised event (cf. Ac 1:14).”

“To stay together was the condition laid down by Jesus in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; the premise of their harmony was prolonged prayer. In this way we are offered a formidable lesson for every Christian community.”

“Human pride and egoism always create divisions, build walls of indifference, hate and violence. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, makes hearts capable\ of understanding the languages of all, as he re-establishes the bridge of authentic communion between earth and heaven. The Holy Spirit is Love.”

“This is the mystery of Pentecost: the Holy Spirit illuminates the human spirit and. By revealing Christ Crucified and Risen, indicates the way to become more like him, that is, to be “the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ" (Deus Caritas Est, n. 33). The Church, gathered with Mary as at her birth, today implores: “Veni, Sancte Spiritus! - Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love!” Amen.”

I hope those quotes give you a feel for this excellent volume. This was one of a number of volumes written by Pope Benedict XVI on Lent. The CTS had a wide range of booklets based on his sermons, audiences, and papal visits. I have been working on tracking them down, and some are very hard to find at a reasonable price or at all. I was glad to track this one down, I read it twice during lent and then passed it on to a friend. 

This work was very accessible. I believe anyone with a secondary school education could read it and benefit from that reading. I love reading the volumes from Benedict XVI because they are clear, well researched, and in line with the 2000 year tradition of the Church. I have benefited from everything I have read by Benedict. This is an excellent volume. I can easily recommend it to any Catholic. Another great resource from the Catholic Truth Society. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Benedict XVI:

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