I was delighted that Michelle Buckman was willing to share her thoughts today on Lenten reading and how fiction can be Lenten reading. The novel she references here is one of my favorites and happens to be on sale for $5 at Sophia Institute Press right now. – Sarah
For Lent, many Catholics enjoy reading devotionals because the short, thought-provoking tidbits carry the spirit of daily readings a step further. Nevertheless, this may be the year that you’d like something that will tie the scriptures to more than a short paragraph about life, something that will touch you in a different, piercing way.
Throughout Lent, we walk the path of Jesus’s last days: the Last Supper, the agony in the garden, the crowning with thorns, the scourging, and the crucifixion. Remembering what Jesus suffered on our behalf is vitally important to our faith.
However, there is another side to his story—that of his mother, Mary. Mary stood on the sidelines and watched helplessly as her son suffered and died. She knew he had to fulfill what the prophecies foretold, but that couldn’t have lessened her pain as she watched his agony. How did she endure what unfolded right in front of her? How does any mother endure her child being in pain? How does any mother endure her child’s death?
Obviously, I wasn’t at Mary’s side while she walked this path, but I was at the side of four women who suffered the untimely deaths of their children. Each in turn became skeletons of their former selves. The pain of their loss suffused their lives completely.
To that end, I wrote Rachel’s Contrition, a novel about a young mother whose toddler dies in an accident. I wrote it to reveal the depth of such pain and suffering, so that you can walk in the shoes of such women and understand how desperately they want to talk about their children and their loss, how they struggle to come to terms with what happened, and how faith plays a role in their recovery.
After all the suffering of seeing Jesus die on the cross, Mary experienced the joy of seeing her son resurrected after a mere three days. She had the elation of beholding him in all his glory.
Although a mother may think of her own deceased child basking in God’s love in heaven, she doesn’t experience it the way Mary did. The average mother walks a much longer path to recovery, more like my character Rachel, who relied heavily on help from outsiders and the special inspiration of Saint Therese’s Little Way before she discovered faith and peace.
This Lent, don’t stop at a snippet of a devotional. Ponder every step of Jesus’s path and see him in the people around you. Ponder what Mary suffered and perhaps think about how some mother you know has suffered. By the time Easter rolls around, you’ll have walked through the valley of death and arrived on the side of glorifying God, hopefully with extra hugs and prayers for every family member.
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