I receive so many review copies of books that it’s impossible to keep all of them. We have so little storage space in our cottage-style home that I’d have to pack up my husband, the dog, and half the furniture in order to store the handfuls upon handfuls of books that are sent to me each year.
They come in a constant flow, and I enjoy perusing every single one of them. I also like to give a nod to other authors, as I’ve received so many such nods myself over the years. Still, I can only keep a small selection and so I have to decide which to keep and which to let go of.
Heidi Saxton’s Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Servant Publications, $12.99) is a keeper.
That’s true for two reasons:
By using the Daily and Sunday Mass Readings for all three liturgical cycles (weekday readings for land remain the same year-to-year), the book is indeed perpetually useful.
It’s so wonderfully done that one simply must hang onto it.
The book is comprised of brief yet poignant daily meditations focusing on the life of Saint Teresa of Calcutta that are related to each day’s Mass Readings. The author has added anecdotes from her own life, bringing a very personal aspect to the meditations. The collection is completely relatable and pertinent to the average person’s daily life.
Take, for example, the entry on Saturday of the Second Week of Lent.
“Right after high school, I auditioned for a part in a community theater production of Godspell. I had coveted the part of Mary Magdalene; it was my chance to break out of my shell and don that feather boa with all the pent-up exuberance of a young woman who, thanks to a conservative upbringing, had spent her high-school years in “granny skirts.” A friend of mine, someone with stronger pipes and stage presence, got the part, and I was crushed. I consoled myself by buying the soundtrack and singing myself hoarse in the car. “Oh, bless the Lord, my soul,” indeed.
Saxton goes on to tell about being in a car accident a few weeks after the audition and subsequently being hospitalized for over a month. She was released just in time to catch the show’s final performance. The director, who had kept in touch with her since the accident, called her up onto stage and presented her with a bouquet of flowers. This was, for the author, a transforming act of love.
One of the nicest things about the book is that it’s fashioned so that it can be read at night, with some reflection and prayer time, including a resolution to be carried out the next day. For those of us who have trouble finding extra time in the mornings, this is a great advantage.
The last reflection is for Easter Sunday and is titled, “Help Me to Spread Your Fragrance,” Which is a reminder of daily prayer prayed by the Missionaries of Charity and to written by John Henry Newman.
Help me to spread your fragrance wherever I go.
Flood my soul with your spirit and life.
Penetrate and process my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of yours.
Let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to you. Amen.
Saxton’s own closing prayer, beautifully done, reflects the attitude of the Missionaries.
Risen Lord, fill my heart with your Easter presence, so that everyone I encounter will see you in me. Help me, like Mary Magdalene and the apostles, to receive the news of your resurrected life with such overwhelming joy that I can’t help but share it with others. Saint Teresa of Calcutta, thank you for your witness to the world through your life, your words, and the continuing work of your Sisters. Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!
Lent with Saint Therese of Calcutta is adeptly and gracefully written, reflecting the depth of spirituality and understanding of the Catholic faith of its author, Heidi Hess Saxton.
It’s a must-have keeper!
Get your copy of Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta here.