About ten or so years ago I decided to read through all of the short stories of Flannery O’Connor during Lent. In her exploration of many of the darker aspects of humanity, I found a great deal to meditate upon. It made for one of the most fruitful Lenten seasons I’ve ever had.
In that spirit, here are a few Ignatius Press novels that would make for great reading during Lent.
Poor Banished Children by Fiorella de Maria is a story of a woman wounded by abuse, scorn, being ostracized and mistreated both by the Christians she grew up among but also by the Muslim pirates who enslaved her. How she eventually finds redemption and forgiveness makes for a very moving story.
Island of the World by Michael D. O’Brien has been hailed by many as one of the acclaimed novelist’s very best works. In 2007, Marvin Olasky at WORLD magazine called it “one of the best Christian novels about forgiveness and grace I’ve ever read.”
Dayspring by Harry Sylvester is a novel that I had heard nothing about before we republished, but I’d call it a lost classic. It deserves to be shelved next to the best work of Graham Greene. The story of a sophisticated academic simultaneously attracted and repelled by the extreme mortifications of the Penitentes, a quasi-medieval brotherhood of men atoning for sin in the American Southwest, it’s a book that haunts the reader long after the pages are closed.
Iota by T.M. Doran is also a novel featuring a protagonist wrestling with guilt in punishing circumstances. Jan Skala was forced into collaborating with the Nazi occupation, and has now been imprisoned by the Communist “liberators” of his country. What will his fate be?
Everywhere in Chains by James Casper tells the story of a family suppressing the truth about a bygone crime, and how the tendency to hide things like abuse, mental illness, and injustice can explode outwards in violence. Can there truly be forgiveness when unwarranted secrecy is insisted upon?
Do you have a favorite Lenten read? Let me know in the comments!