Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lenten preparation! Because we are Catholic Nerds :)

Happy second week of January everybody! It feels like full-on winter right now, yes? I'm ensconced back at work, but the joy of New Year's Eve and the holiday break lingers on, and the spring semester hasn't started up yet, so I'm still in the Happy Zone!

I've been thinking a lot about Lent coming up on February 14th, and I figured the time was nigh for planning! We've talked about a few books for a seasonal book club (the Advent one went SO WELL), and thus I've put up a poll up for the Lenten Book Club! I have the books we talked about previously, plus a few more. Variety is good, right? *beams* Here are our descriptions!

We spoke about the Living Water Series, because we enjoyed The Well so much during our Summer Book Club. Therefore, I knew I would include one of the books as an option, but in the end I decided to include both of the remaining volumes! First up, we have Book 2, which is The Thief, by Stephanie Landsem:

A Roman centurion longing for peace and a Jewish woman hiding a deadly secret witness a miracle that transforms their lives and leads them to the foot of the cross.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Abandoned by the God she once loved, her only recourse is to depend upon Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, to keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and the landlord satisfied.

Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure and is desperate to escape the accursed Judean province. Accepting a wager that will get him away from the aggravating Jews and their threats of revolt, he sets out to catch the thieves harassing the marketplace.

When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Nissa hopes for freedom from her life of lies. But the supposed miracle brings only more misfortune, and Longinus, seeking to learn more about the mysterious healer, finds himself drawn instead to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures.

Cedron, Longinus, and Nissa are unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. As danger closes in on them from every side, they must decide if the love and redemption Jesus offers is true or just another false promise. How can the so-called Messiah save them from their shackles, when he cannot even save himself?
This is certainly a top contender, in my opinion. I loved this scriptural fiction genre when we investigated this series last summer, and the theme of this installment seems ideally suited to Lent.

Next, we have as an option Book 3 in the Living Water Series, this one about Martha and Lazarus, The Tomb, by Stephanie Landsem

In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?
Thoughts? Also a nice option for Lent. Nothing says we have to read the series in order!

Next up we have an apologetics option. In my 20's, reading conversion stories like this one changed my life and my faith. I have always had a soft spot for personal testimonies like this, and I have not yet read this particular story! It is How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming into the Catholic Church, by Kevin Lowry

A preacher's kid at a Catholic university, Kevin Lowry settled into a double major in beer and billiards soon followed by uncomfortable run-ins with pious students, failing grades, increasing anxiety, a missing night and the startling realization that some fellow students actually attended Mass the morning after a party instead of sleeping it off.
After getting kicked out, Kevin got his act together, got the MBA, and also got the girl. Meanwhile God was working, drawing him to the inevitable conclusion that Catholicism was all true despite his objections.
Kevin Lowry's journey to Catholicism is fascinating, often funny, and demonstrates God's unfailing, patient love for all of us.
Doesn't this sound interesting? I really want to read this one. If it doesn't win, I'll keep it in the hopper for the Summer Book Club!

Finally, I thought this was a lovely option. The Catholic Catalogue: A Field Guide to the Daily Acts That Make Up a Catholic Life, by Melissa Musick

The popular mother-daughter team behind the hit website helps readers to discover, rediscover, and embrace the holidays and seasons of Catholic life through this collection of prayers, crafts, devotionals and recipes. 

This beautifully designed book will help readers celebrate Catholicism throughout the years, across daily practice and milestones. The Catholic Catalogue is a field guide, a list of far ranging topics, that should aid any Catholic, whether steeped in the tradition or just discovering spirituality for the first time, to understand the daily acts that make up a Catholic life. And like the most useful field guides, it is divided into user-friendly sections and covers such topics as the veneration of relics, blessing your house, discovering a vocation, raising teenagers, getting a Catholic tattoo, planting a Mary garden, finding a spiritual director, and exploring your own way in the tradition.

With more than 75 inspiring chapters, this book promises to be a resource that individuals and families will turn to again and again, helping to make room in their busy lives for mystery and meaning, awe and joy. 
You know me and the liturgical year, total fangirl. I think Kevin also enjoys liturgical living books, yes?

All right then, it's time to vote! I'll leave the poll up for 3 weeks and announce the winner at the end of January. *beatific beam*

I'll handle the structure very similarly to the Advent Book Club. I'll have either a Tea Time discussion or a post here on the blog with my thoughts each week (I haven't decided which yet), and also a thread up on the Facebook group. So you can take your pick as to where you'd like to participate. That worked out very well during Advent, and we had a lot of nice participation!

If you're torn between two books, don't forget: we also have the Summer Book Club! If you'd like me to keep one of the books that doesn't win in the rotation to vote on for the summer, make sure to leave a comment to let me know! Read, set, VOTE! The poll is up on the right side navigation bar of the blog!


  1. I voted. :) I think How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming into the Catholic Church would make a good summer book club option.

  2. I voted but I would love to read The Catholic Catalogue for the summer book club. I think all four sound soooo interesting that this is going to be fantastic either way. :)

    1. Thanks Gina, I'll keep that in the hopper too!

    2. I've got the Catholic Catalogue on my bookshelf and I think it's more of a reference book (very handy to have) and maybe won't generate a lot of discussion so I'm going to throw a vote in for "The Thief."

    3. ooo, very interesting, thanks Amy!

  3. All four choices sound like really good reads. And you're right -- The Catholic Catalogue is right up my alley. I'm probably going to get that one no matter how the voting goes! :)

  4. Just a thought - but perhaps because it's LENT we should strive to read a non-fiction offering to help us grow in our faith. And we did just read two fiction titles for the last book clubs. But, any of the books would be fine for me. I try to pick a few Catholic classics to read during Lent anyway. The Catholic Catalog sound super cool - but then so did the memoir and the fiction titles. Hard choices.

    1. Hi Donna Alice! Good point. I find that fiction often plays that role for me (provides spiritual nuggets that I apply in my everyday life) because I personally have a really, really difficult time making it all the way through non-fiction unless it is a memoir/biography. Everybody is different though! I'll be very thrilled to go with what the group decides, and perhaps challenge myself!


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