The season of Lent is the perfect time to engage in some special spiritual reading, especially texts that lead us deeply into the mystery of the cross. The more we meditate on the Passion and death of Jesus Christ, the more we can rejoice in his Resurrection at Easter.
Here are five classic texts well worth our attention this Lent.
Meditations on the Life and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
By John Tauler, O.P.
German Dominican priest John Tauler (+1361) was one of the greatest mystics and preachers of the Middle Ages. This book, a collection of short, insightful meditations, guides the reader to an intimate encounter with Our Savior in the events of his Passion. It also contains many prayers, and it leads the reader readily to prayer.
The Cross of Jesus
by Louis Chardon, O.P.
Fr. Louis Chardon (+1651), another Dominican mystic and theologian (this one French), spent most of his life as a novice master and spiritual director. He wrote all of his books in the last four years of his life (he died of the plague). This classic work takes us to the heart of the mystery of Christ’s cross and the meaning of it for our sanctification. This book has recently by reissued in a beautiful edition by Cluny Media.
The Mysteries of Life
by Basil W. Maturin
This little book offers profound meditations on the seven last words spoken by Jesus from the cross by a little known but truly outstanding spiritual master. Basil Maturin, an Irish Anglican convert to Catholicism, was ordained a priest. Fr. Maturin, returning from a successful preaching tour in the United States, died in the sinking of the Lusitania (the ship was hit by a torpedo on May 7, 1915). Witnesses reported that Fr. Maturin rescued a child and administered Last Rites to several passengers as the ship sank.
This War Is the Passion
by Caryll Houselander
Caryll Houselander (+1945), an artist and mystical writer from England, published this book (her first of several) at the height of World War II. The book aims to help its readers make sense of the suffering raging around them through the mystery of Christ’s Passion and death. In these days when war continues to besiege Ukraine and the Middle East, the book is more relevant than ever.
The Power of the Cross
By Raniero Cantalamessa
Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, a Capuchin friar, has been the Preacher of the Papal Household since 1980. This book is a collection of the Good Friday homilies preached annually in St. Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Cantalamessa’s command of Church history, theology, and classical literature shines throughout his many outstanding books that lead us deep into the Mystery of Jesus Christ.