Better than Chocolate for Lent

Sometimes when I’m deep into a novel, streaming series or box of cookies, I think of it during the day, anticipating diving in that evening. Now I’m looking forward to Lent, reading more of Joyce Rupp’s Jesus, Companion in My Suffering. (Ave Maria Press, 2023, 800-282-1865)

Full disclaimer: I’ve admired Joyce’s work for over thirty years, benefited from her practical guidance when I entered the field of spirituality writing, and treasure our friendship. Those who first got to know her through early books like Praying our Goodbyes which looked honestly and touchingly at grief, won’t be disappointed in her latest. What Joyce can do in a small space is genius: brief Gospel passage, prayer and practice, all in under two short pages, one for each of the forty days.

She looks at how Jesus shared our sufferings, the ordinary worries, disappointments, failures, fear, rejection and  fatigue as well as the deep griefs like betrayal, violence and death. Over and over, “Jesus enters fully into our human condition,” experiencing and understanding it to the last drop. No matter what we bear, she reminds us, we don’t do it alone.

One of my favorite chapters is Martha in the kitchen, “getting more upset with each stirring of the pot.” How often do we want to welcome Jesus into our hearts, but fail to take the time for quiet reflection, instead accepting or creating more tasks that leave us feeling overwhelmed and angry? The suggested practice is wonderfully down to earth: consider my gripes, especially the self-inflicted ones.

How better to enter Lent than with Jesus as companion who understands us fully because he’s been here?

One response to “Better than Chocolate for Lent

  1. Yes, he’s been here, and still is. A good friend just recommended the somewhat sappy (in some versions) hymn In This Very Room. There is joy and peace enough in this very room because Jesus is withus here/now/always.

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