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God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter Hardcover – December 1, 2013
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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
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God For Us is as its subtitle suggests, a devotional focused on the Liturgical season of Lent and Easter. Paraclete Press with Editors Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe have gathered together some of the most well respected Christian writers (Beth Bevis, Scott Cairns, Kathleen Norris, James Schaap, Luci Shaw, Richard Rohr, Ronald Rolheiser, and Lauren F. Winner) from the modern day and assembled their writings into a theme that helps us draw closer to God with our reflections upon this most holy Lenten and Easter Season.
As I mentioned earlier, this is truly an heirloom quality book and very sturdy. It is hardbound with glossy, heavy gauge paper. Paraclete Press has also thoughtfully included a couple ribbon markers for place keeping. The book could easily stand on the devotional writing alone, but the inclusion of Christian art spanning 1500 years makes this work truly rise above other seasonal devotional books.
Another feature of this style of devotional writing (perhaps it would be better to refer to this book as part of a series) is the all-in-one approach to teaching and practice. The book appeals to many different learning styles as it incorporates history, art, poetry, prayers, liturgy, and Scripture to hopefully engage as many of the senses as the reader allows engaging.
The flow of the book follows the Lenten-Easter season in full, beginning with Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, proceeding through the Lenten Calendar, landing on Palm Sunday, entering Holy Week, the Holy Tridium (Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter/Pascha), completion of the journey on Easter Sunday.
The book is completed with a very thorough notes section that details every resource used throughout the devotions. There is also a nice biographical section for the contributing authors and a resource guide for every illustration shown in the book.
This is a marvelous and very attractive resource for one of the most sobering and beautiful seasons of the Church Calendar. If you have been wondering what you might use as a devotional resource for yourself or your family, this might be worth your consideration. There is still plenty time to order and receive the book from online retailers before the Lenten Season begins. Amazon.com is retailing the book for just around $20.00 before tax and shipping. In my opinion, this stunningly handsome book is well worth that price and then some. Thanks go out to Paraclete Press for another winning devotional guide!
So why didn't I give it five stars? First, there is at least one serious editing problem. One of the Rohr essays in week one refers to lectionary readings about Adam and Eve that are not the readings included for that day. I can't imagine why no one else noticed this -- unless they didn't actually use the book.
Second, as good as Rohr's contributions are, they are a tough act to follow, and week two (which is as far as I am as I write this) is much weaker. I am hoping the contributors for the remain weeks go back to the depth and quality of the first week.
The authors of the various sections do justice to describing each part of the season starting with Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and finishing with the death of Christ and the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. I would highly recommend the book for a study group in Lent.