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Roxane Salonen highlights a new tool for overcoming reluctance to diving into Lent with the graced help of St. Alphonsus Liguori. 

I have a confession to make. The excitement I generally have over the Advent season has not been matched with my approach to Lent. Gearing up to ponder Jesus’ death for weeks on end can feel like a heavy ask, and I find myself dreading the journey.  

Mind you, the results are worth it. Holy Week is worth it. Easter is worth it. But the uphill climb, the 40 days in the desert before? Not easy. Which is why I volunteered to review a new book filled with daily meditations for Lent and Easter guided by inspiring thoughts of a saint: The Road to Calvary: Daily Meditations for Lent and Easter.




At the heart of these meditations are Saint Alphonsus Liguori’s writings. Until now, I’ve known little about this saint, not because of his lack but because I’d simply not taken the time to discover him. But each saint offers something unique to us. What new insights might I learn from this soul?  

Receiving this beautiful book, with its gold-emblazed, leather cover, signaled a new approach: an invitation to a daily walk that, rather than being daunting, offers a manageably short, rich meditation guided by one already in heaven.  

Opening the little book to the first entry, I am convinced this Lent will be different. From the start, we’re brought into a gentle challenge from our saint friend for Ash Wednesday:

There is no practice more profitable for the entire sanctification of a soul than the frequent meditation of the suffering of Jesus Christ.  


I am standing at attention now. I want to believe you, Alphonsus, but you’ll need to tell me more before I can trust.  

I pause to do a quick internet search. Who were you, Alphonsus, anyway? And I learn he wore a lot of hats in his lifetime: composer, musician, artist, poet, lawyer, philosopher, theologian, bishop, and founder of the Redemptorists. Among the Doctors of the Church, he is one of the most widely read, prolific Catholic authors. 

I flip back to the meditation, which continues with wisdom from another saint, the great St. Augustine, who one said that a single tear shed at the remembrance of Christ’s passion is worth more than a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or a year of fasting on bread and water. Whoa! 

I am detecting now that this Lent will be, surprisingly, a journey about entering the heart. I am being called to enter this season with my own heart full and open, and in doing so, being promised a deeper glimpse into Christ’s unfathomable love; a love meant to redeem this broken world, and my own broken heart.  

“The charity of Christ presses us,” the meditation continues, reminding of Saint Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 5:14. From there, we hear about how, when Saint Thomas Aquinas approached Saint Bonaventure to ask how he had gained such wisdom, he was shown a Crucifix, blackened from kisses. “This is my book,” Bonaventure replied, noting, “It has taught me whatever little I know.” 

In these saints’ words, I realize that I don’t know nearly enough about the Crucifix as I should. And I’m reminded that “all saints have learned the art of loving God through the study of the crucifix.” If I want to join their ranks someday—and I do—I must begin here. Only the Crucifix can teach me the true art of love. 

To learn love at its heights should not be something to dread. It should draw us into God’s love. In my humanness, I am shortsighted and inclined to flee from the Cross. But with a steady guide like Saint Alphonsus near, it seems not only doable, but very worthwhile.  

Please consider joining me this Lent in walking with Saint Alphonsus to grow closer to Jesus. And if you’re inclined, share your thoughts with me, at any point, by leaving a comment on this article. 

Lent is almost here! I think I’m ready! Ready to be conformed more fully to Love. In this, there can be only gain. 

Ask for The Road to Calvary at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from Amazon.com or the publisher, TAN Books.



Copyright 2024 Roxane Salonen
Images: Canva