Looking to enhance your prayer life this Lent? Check out The Catholic Playbook: Lenten Reflections for Singles, the first in a series of Catholic “playbooks” published by CatholicMatch.
This Lenten Reflection for Singles is a 40-day meditation book that includes reflections written by Catholic singles from all walks of life that focus on the core questions of the single vocation.
Each story is followed by a prayer, written by Father Gary Caster, which gives practical ways to persevere on the Lenten journey.
The foreword to the book is written by Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., and the book has been endorsed by Catholic author and speaker Mary Beth Bonacci.
Bonacci wrote, “Lent is an ideal time for single Catholics to focus on growing closer to Christ, and this collection of meditations focused on our single state of life is an ideal way to do that.”
A sample excerpt states: “As part of my Lenten practice, I do give something up, but it must be something I’ll be longing for with every part of me. When I have chosen the right sacrifice, these 40 days of Lent can seem like an eternity. Perhaps that’s why the single life can often feel like Lent: I feel that something is missing, something I truly desire and yearn for.
“I find myself waiting and hoping for a long period of time to come to an end. … Unlike my Lenten sacrifice, which can be easily broken, the single life is not so easy to break if I want to experience what I am really looking for. The 40 days of Lent, like life, cannot be rushed if we are truly to appreciate and rejoice in a glorious Easter.”
“Like the Psalms, the reflections in this book are written from the heart and express the full range of human emotions: longing and loneliness, repentance and purification, periods of intense suffering and moments of deep joy,” wrote Bishop Rhoades. “They bear poignant witness to the fact that whatever is in our hearts can be offered to Christ as part of our complete gift of self to him.”
Author Christina Ries explained how the idea for the book came about: “Initially, we put out the call through CatholicMatch for written reflections on the single life and Lenten season. We were overwhelmed by the flood of the responses.”
She added, “We called it a playbook because it sounds really practical in nature. The chapters are easy to read. There is nothing too dense, and you can look back to it for reference.”
Lenten Reflections for Singles is a designed to help busy Catholics fit prayer into their schedules. “The short-and-sweet reflections help you to fold prayer into the hustle and bustle of life. We want to help you fit it in, whether you are praying in the elevator at work or while making coffee,” Ries said.
If you feel discouraged that we are more than halfway through Lent and you haven’t been following your Lenten commitments, don’t lose hope.
“It’s definitely not too late. Our lives are busy, and we are living high-paced lives, but we need Lent more than ever. We need a time to reflect and unplug. It’s helpful to have this guidebook to do that,” Ries said.
As for my own take on the book, although there are definite perks to single life, sometimes it can feel very lonely. The reflections from my fellow singles help me to remember that during this time of discernment my main focus should be to better my relationship with God.
This single state is a gift and a time to give of myself in a way that only a single person can do. Each of us is called to a specific mission. You may feel like just a single musical note in a great symphony, but if you aren’t there who else will play that note?
The Church needs the single people to be involved, and we need the Church for our nourishment.
As Mary Beth Bonacci shared with me: “Singles tend to be the ‘invisible parishioners’ in many Catholic churches. We see that parish life revolves primarily around families, and we’re not sure how we fit in. So we sit in back, where the pastor doesn’t see us, and we leave immediately after Mass. And so nobody knows we’re there, and the parish life continues to revolve primarily around families. It would be wonderful, and very good for the parish community, if pastors would do more to reach out to single parishioners and invite them into the family of parish life. But we can make a difference by being visible, in a good way. We can volunteer in the parish food bank. We can become lectors and Eucharistic ministers. We can participate in Bible studies. We can really ‘join’ our parishes.”
This book can help remind us of that.
Click her to order your copy of The Catholic Playbook: Lenten Reflections for Singles
This review originally ran in the National Catholic Register.