Jodi Marlin
February 10, 2021 // Bishop

Enter intentionally into Lent: three guides

Jodi Marlin

Three new books published by Our Sunday Visitor offer distinct ways to turn away from the busyness and challenges of daily life and enter into the penitential season of Lent with intention. Between the three, Catholics in any stage and situation of life are likely to find direction toward a peace-filled 40 days of reflection that unites them with Christ’s passion.

“The Way of the Cross for Loved Ones Who Have Left the Faith,” by Father Jeffrey Kirby, STD, provides hope to faithful Catholics devastated by those who are close to them having left the faith. The Lord Jesus, Father Kirby notes, suffered more than anyone else from the indifference and mockery of those who did not believe in His promise of salvation. 

When a loved one leaves the Church, those who remain often despair and feel helpless to bring them back. Father Kirby suggests uniting this fear and suffering to the sufferings of Jesus on the cross. 

Beyond invitations and conversation, the devotional guide utilizes the most powerful tool available to reach fallen-away Catholics: prayer. A specific structure of prayers, in fact, is presented as a spiritual response to a loved one’s rejection of the faith and incorporates supplications on behalf of both that person and the one who is praying for him or her. 

Although the guide delineates between the roles and responses of the leader and those of others, the stations can be prayed and reflected on by a single petitioner as well. 143 pages, $8.95.

For those with children still at home, “A Busy Parent’s Guide to a Meaningful Lent,” by Dr. Maria C. Morrow, begins by acknowledging two glaring truths in the lives of Catholic moms and dads. First, that the voluntary penance of finding time to work on becoming holier parents often seems impossible; second, that, as Morrow puts it, “whatever the challenges of our state of life, we are still being called to participate in this season of Lent.”

Morrow proffers several easy-reach ideas to help parents choose a Lenten resolution that increases solidarity with the poor and hungry, but notably most of the book is a day-by-day guide complete with suggested short readings, a reflection and a pray-ponder-do section that lays out an appropriate and achievable response to the message presented. Each day’s material is just enough to infuse sanctity into the messiness of everyday life with children and present a model to them of living differently during Lent. 243 pages, $16.95

A Fort Wayne physician with extensive speaking experience on the physical trauma experienced by Christ during the crucifixion, Dr. Thomas McGovern is the author of “What Christ Suffered: A Doctor’s Journey Through the Passion,” Listeners of Redeemer Radio’s “Doctor, Doctor” program, now syndicated with Eternal World Television Network, will recognize Dr. McGovern from the popular show.

In “What Christ Suffered,” Dr. McGovern presents myriad details of the physical abuses experienced by Christ during His passion, as well as the historical details of the places, personalities and even weather that played a role — effectively placing the reader in Jerusalem for the events in a manner understandable by lay readers.

The book also returns time and time again, in clear and relatable terms, to the inextricable relationship between Christ’s love for all men and the extraordinary suffering He endured. 

It’s insight Dr. McGovern nearly didn’t publish, however. The introduction explains how an inability to determine a definitive and complete set of details unchallenged by other hypotheses derailed for years the interest he had developed as a young medical student in the physical experience of the Crucifixion. After years of reflection and some encouragement, he acquiesced. 

“I said I would, as long as I could see how such a book could help others come to love Jesus more by moving this knowledge from their heads to their hearts.”

Bishop James D. Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, states in the book’s foreward that Dr. McGovern has achieved his goal, because he applies the motivation for the Lord’s suffering to the subject of the physical trauma he experienced. “(And) as we come to understand the full meaning and depth of Christ’s suffering, we begin to make sense of our own suffering and that of others.”

Two appendixes, as well as an extensive bibliography and notes section, are available for readers who wish to take a deeper dive into some of the historical research available on the Crucifixion. 327 pages, $27.95

The imprimatur on all three publications is Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. They can be purchased at

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