Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bringing Lent Home with St. John Paul II - Book Review

It is the beginning of Advent, so why am I reviewing a book about Lent?  Well, with Ash Wednesday arriving on Feb. 18th, this new release from Donna-Marie Copper O'Boyle is going to make an amazing stocking-stuffer for the readers on your Christmas list! (See? I've got your back.)

Honestly, Donna-Marie's newest is much more than a "book" - pages read and then retired to a shelf. It is a means of bringing our beloved pastor, Pope St. John Paul II, into our homes and allowing him to lead us through another Lent, joining ourselves to Jesus in His Passover. As you know, wherever John Paul went, he was accompanied by the Blessed Mother; and I am sure that you will find that to be equally true when you bring him into your home.

As a mother of five, Donna-Marie is keenly sensitive to moms' and dads' responsibility to help their children grow in the spiritual life. With that thought at the fore, she has crafted daily meditations and activities appropriate for the entire family. Each day contains (1) a reflection for parents to engage in prior to beginning prayer with the children; (2) an excerpt from John Paul II's audiences or writings for the family to read aloud; (3) a family prayer time; (4) a story from John Paul II's life; (5) and then a daily suggestion for how the family can fast, give alms, and offer short individual prayers throughout the day. It is ingenious. Allow me to share a few examples:
Parent Reflection
There is so much to accomplish in the course of one day, and we sometimes fly from one activity to the next worrying that we won't get everything done...Try to read St. John Paul II's words several time today. There is so much meaning in them to ponder. Help the children understand them. Perhaps you can discuss them for a few minutes at dinner tonight.

John Paul II's Words (read during brief time of family prayer)

...Seek to penetrate the meaning of [Jesus'] crucifixion if you do not want to be ashamed of it; the meaning of his wounds, if you want yours to heal; the meaning of his death, if you want to gain eternal life; and the meaning of his burial, if you want to find the Resurrection. - General Audience, June 2, 2004

Today fast from wasting time or procrastination...

Have the children draw a picture or make a card for someone they know who lives alone and try to deliver it soon.

Prayer (to be used throughout the day)
Jesus, I trust in you!
What I found especially ingenius of Donna-Marie was how the stories she shares from John Paul's life take us chronologically from his birth (shared on Ash Wednesday) straight through to his own personal passion and death (on Good Friday) and his canonization (Easter Sunday). It is such a powerful way of reminding us that Jesus is recreating His earthly life in each of us. And walking with John Paul through the most horrific events of the last century, not to mention personal tragedies, allows us bear our own crosses and see how the glory of Christ's Resurrection is shot through even the darkest of experiences.

"Joy" - that's the word that keeps coming to mind for this book. It planted joy in my soul, that same joy that beamed from the eyes and smile of John Paul II, the same joy our Blessed Mother surely had gazing upon her Son, Jesus. Bringing Lent Home with St. John Paul II - it is quite the treasure.

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