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AnneMarie Miller reviews Gerald Vann’s profound book of Lenten meditations, The Pain of Christ and the Sorrow of God.

Are you looking for a way to bring spiritual intensity into your Lent?

Originally published in 1947, The Pain of Christ and the Sorrow of God, by Gerald Vann, O.P. (Sophia Institute Press 2020) packs a powerful punch of timeless wisdom. With simplicity and profundity, Vann reflects on key aspects of Our Lord’s Passion: the betrayal, the scourging, and the crucifixion. However, rather than examining these topics from a distance, Vann brings the reader up close to them and discusses our place in the Passion and death of Christ. How do we betray Christ? How do we, like the soldiers, mock his kingship? Vann probes these sorrowful events and challenges each of us to strive for greater holiness and virtue.

pain of christ and the sorrow of god 

While all of the chapters were excellent, I particularly enjoyed the section on “the stillness of Mary.” Despite my efforts to cultivate a life of silence and prayer, I too often find myself surrounded by the noise of the world or my own agendas. Vann’s reflection reminded me of the necessity of contemplation, and it encouraged me to make space for this silent prayer in my life. 

This book is just under a hundred pages long, but the seven chapters bring the reader on an intense journey of spiritual examination. Vann’s words pushed me to reflect on the ways that I am -- and am not -- living as a disciple of Christ. I felt acutely uncomfortable as I read this book, for Vann’s reflections helped me see my own shortcomings and need for God’s mercy and grace. 

Are you looking for a way to bring spiritual intensity into your Lent? #catholicmom

This book was very helpful as I prepared for my monthly Confession, and I will be referring back to this volume again and again. In fact, it was so good that I had to stop myself from underlining the majority of the text!

The Pain of Christ and the Sorrow of God would make a splendid addition to any Lenten reading list, and I highly recommend it.


Copyright 2021 AnneMarie Miller