God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter

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9781612613796: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter
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A lovely gift book full of color images and inspirational readings. Hardcover, with ribbon markers included. God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter explores the meaning of Lent, its importance in spiritual formation, its significance in the preparation of Easter, and the holy season of Easter itself. With reflections from leading spiritual writers in North America, histories of the liturgical calendar and the feast days of the holy season, and art that spans over 1500 years of artistic endeavor, God For Us/ provides a rich resource for renewing meaning in a season that is at best neglected or misunderstood.

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Review:

The Bright-Sadness of Lent"God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter"is a superb new aid for those seeking the "bright-sadness" of Lent. From the outset, the sobriety of Lent and the joy of Easter are held together, with the former always pointing toward the latter. Ronald Rolheiser writes in the introduction: Seasons of play are sweeter when they follow seasons of work, seasons of consummation are heightened by seasons of longing, and seasons of intimacy grow out of seasons of solitude. Presence depends upon absence, intimacy upon solitude, play upon work. In liturgical terms, we fast before we feast.(xi)To help you in your fasting, the book is, at its simplest, a collection of daily meditations, each tied to lectionary-style readings and accompanied by a prayer. Absolutely gorgeous art (some sacred, some not) accompanies each reading, and histories of the feasts and fasts of Lent help newcomers appreciate the historical richness of the Lenten season.Each of these elements pulls readers into the beauty of time. Daily we read and meditate on the Word of God. Yearly we celebrate feasts and fasts, establishing the sacred rhythm of the church calendar and of our lives. And for centuries we as Christians have celebrated and memorialized our faith through art and prayer and poetry and song. The reading experience of"God for Us"is a rich one, full of good words, vivid colors, and an inviting faith.Each week's meditations are written by a different author, and Richard Rohr's writings during the first week are the perfect lens to focus your Lenten devotional practices. As a Franciscan priest and the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, Rohr combines elements of mysticism with calls to action. "Jesus's very first words in the Gospels are a call to change," he writes, championing first and foremost, a fast from prejudice, oppression, exclusion, and ego. The lectionary reading from Isaiah 58 - in which God's desired "fasting" includes freeing the oppressed, feeding the hungry and reconciling with family - is present throughout Rohr's meditations and keeps reader's attention ever on the end of Lent.Though Rohr begins the theme, perhaps it is Beth Bevis, writing about the history of the second Sunday of Lent, who best summarizes how Lent leads us on to something outside of itself. "Lent is best understood as a time not of denial for its own sake, but for redirecting our desires toward that which nourishes us both spiritually and physically, preparing us for fuller communion with God and each other, " she writes (49).Also notable are Scott Cairn's essays, which bring with them the ancient and beautiful and intensely physical perspective of the Orthodox Church. His reflections focus on sin and death, as proper Lenten devotions should, but always with an eye toward the eternal. "We may find ourselves moving through the darkness," he writes, "but our paths are, even so, illuminated by his light" (83). Perhaps more than any of the other writers Cairns draws out the penitential aspect of Lent. Fasting has always been a sign of broknness and repentance, and Cairns promotes this state as good and even necessary, since "the ache of repentence...is the beginning of healing" (73).Rounding out the distinguished authors of"God for Us"are author Kathleen Norris, professor and novelist James Schaap, poet Luci Shaw, and Episcopal priest Lauren F. Winner. With Greg Pennoyer's preface, Ronald Rolheiser's introduction, and the histories of feasts and fasts written by Beth Bevis, the list of distinguished contributors grows longer. In short, the books is quietly ecumenical but never compromising in its depth. The words, the art, even the craftsmanship- from the two ribbon bookmarks to the Lenten purple color scheme- are all beautiful, intentional and profound. The book is meant to last you through years of Lenten seasons."God for Us"is the perfect guide during this sacred time; it will nurture you during this fast and prepare you for the feast to come.Erin Zoutendam, Englewood Review of Books" In a follow up to their well-received 2007 collection, God with Us, which focused on Advent and Christmas, this new devotional volume from Pennoyer and Wolfe is absolutely top-notch in every way. Beginning with its heavy glossy pages, sturdy construction, ribbon markers, and full-color artwork, this book is physically and visually stunning. Most importantly, the context within is equally impressive, gathering insights from contributors noted for their writings on spirituality, including Richard Rohr, Scott Cairns, and Kathleen Norris. Among the writers are poets, priests, and professors from diverse Christian backgrounds, making this collection equally accessible to Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox readers. Each Day from Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday includes suggested Scripture readings, a prayer, a two-page reflection, and two full-color works of art. The art has been thoughtfully selected to match the themes of each day, and includes icons from various periods, as well as works from Munch, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and dozens more, spanning more than a millennium and a half of Christian history. The daily reflections are both spiritually and intellectually rich, primarily meditating on the Scripture passages, but also containing valuable gleanings from art literature, and history. Beth Bevins provides a succinct and insightful historical background to the customs and traditions of fourteen key days, such as Ash Wednesday, the Annunciation, and Good Friday. Overall, this gorgeous volume is a wonderful way of readers to enrich their devotional lives and expand their appreciation of this powerful, but often misunderstood, liturgical season. Essential for all Catholic (indeed, all Christian) libraries. --Brain T. Sullivan, Catholic Library World The Bright-Sadness of LentGod for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easteris a superb new aid for those seeking the "bright-sadness" of Lent. From the outset, the sobriety of Lent and the joy of Easter are held together, with the former always pointing toward the latter. Ronald Rolheiser writes in the introduction: Seasons of play are sweeter when they follow seasons of work, seasons of consummation are heightened by seasons of longing, and seasons of intimacy grow out of seasons of solitude. Presence depends upon absence, intimacy upon solitude, play upon work. In liturgical terms, we fast before we feast.(xi)To help you in your fasting, the book is, at its simplest, a collection of daily meditations, each tied to lectionary-style readings and accompanied by a prayer. Absolutely gorgeous art (some sacred, some not) accompanies each reading, and histories of the feasts and fasts of Lent help newcomers appreciate the historical richness of the Lenten season.Each of these elements pulls readers into the beauty of time. Daily we read and meditate on the Word of God. Yearly we celebrate feasts and fasts, establishing the sacred rhythm of the church calendar and of our lives. And for centuries we as Christians have celebrated and memorialized our faith through art and prayer and poetry and song. The reading experience of God for Us is a rich one, full of good words, vivid colors, and an inviting faith.Each week's meditations are written by a different author, and Richard Rohr's writings during the first week are the perfect lens to focus your Lenten devotional practices. As a Franciscan priest and the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, Rohr combines elements of mysticism with calls to action. "Jesus's very first words in the Gospels are a call to change," he writes, championing first and foremost, a fast from prejudice, oppression, exclusion, and ego. The lectionary reading from Isaiah 58 - in which God's desired "fasting" includes freeing the oppressed, feeding the hungry and reconciling with family - is present throughout Rohr's meditations and keeps reader's attention ever on the end of Lent. Though Rohr begins the theme, perhaps it is Beth Bevis, writing about the history of the second Sunday of Lent, who best summarizes how Lent leads us on to something outside of itself. "Lent is best understood as a time not of denial for its own sake, but for redirecting our desires toward that which nourishes us both spiritually and physically, preparing us for fuller communion with God and each other, " she writes (49).Also notable are Scott Cairn's essays, which bring with them the ancient and beautiful and intensely physical perspective of the Orthodox Church. His reflections focus on sin and death, as proper Lenten devotions should, but always with an eye toward the eternal. "We may find ourselves moving through the darkness," he writes, "but our paths are, even so, illuminated by his light" (83). Perhaps more than any of the other writers Cairns draws out the penitential aspect of Lent. Fasting has always been a sign of broknness and repentance, and Cairns promotes this state as good and even necessary, since "the ache of repentence...is the beginning of healing" (73). Rounding out the distinguished authors of God for Us are author Kathleen Norris, professor and novelist James Schaap, poet Luci Shaw, and Episcopal priest Lauren F. Winner. With Greg Pennoyer's preface, Ronald Rolheiser's introduction, and the histories of feasts and fasts written by Beth Bevis, the list of distinguished contributors grows longer. In short, the books is quietly ecumenical but never compromising in its depth. The words, the art, even the craftsmanship- from the two ribbon bookmarks to the Lenten purple color scheme- are all beautiful, intentional and profound. The book is meant to last you through years of Lenten seasons. God for Us is the perfect guide during this sacred time; it will nurture you during this fast and prepare you for the feast to come. Erin Zoutendam, Englewood Review of Books Enhanced throughout with beautifully reproduced, full color artwork, God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter, is an impressive compilation of Christian meditations and prayers for Lent through Easter and is as inspired and inspiring, as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Simply stated, God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter, is very highly recommended for personal, family, church, community, and academic library Christian Studies collections and supplemental reading lists. Julie Summers, The Midwest Book Review February 2014 A portmanteau collection of Lenten observations, garnished with paintings, by a variety of North American writers; it can in turn challenge, move, console: an impressive compilation.The Tablet February 2014 Have you ever celebrated the rhythms of the weeks before Easter? In some traditions of the Church, Christians are surprised by Easter when it appears on store shelves loaded with Easter bunnies and egg baskets. In many modern denominations, Easter is just one more long weekend that culminates in a special church service. There is no Lenten meditation for a thoughtful pause in the calendar. This year, I challenge you to find a good Lenten reader. A new one this year is"God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter. ("Look for it in your local bookstoreor online.)For those who experience Easter as "Just-Another-Long-Weekend,"this is a godsend. The book is divided into categories: the feasts and fasts, the beginnings and weeks, and Holy Week and Easter. Each unit includes a bit of liturgical or church history as well as scriptures, thoughtful reflection and study, and prayer. The daily readings may make your heart sing.The scripture groupings for daily meditation and the explanations from new points-of-view will encourage and enlighten. I loved the personal prayers in spoken English. So - we may be looking forward to Christmas now- but Easter is coming! Wouldn't this book be a nice gift for those you care about? --Rosemarie Kowalski "

About the Author:

Editor Greg Pennoyer is president of The Humanitas Group which manages creative endeavors designed to enrich our understanding of what it means to be human. He is cofounder of the Centre for Cultural Renewal, member of the Board of Directors for Image journal, and co-editor with Gregory Wolfe of God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas.

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