Planning a Bearish Lent (Book Review)

One benefit of being a 1300-year-old bear blessed with the gift of reason through a sainted hermit is that it lends you the wisdom of experience. Said wisdom may be expressed in the form of blogging, or, even better, as a book on the spiritual life. St. Corbinian’s Bear’s Lenten Companion for Bearish Humans is part devotional and part (ahem) autobiography, detailing the Bear’s first 40 Days of Lent under the tutelage of Corbinian himself.

The Bear and his co-authors Timothy and Kathryn Capps (cf. our previous interview with Mr. Capps) have crafted forty chapters of daily reading that entertain and educate. Each chapter is only a few pages long and covers one day in the Bear’s Lent. He fights against the world, the flesh, the devil, and sometimes even against his ghostly father St. Corbinian. The Authors Capps offer some thoughts for reflection at the end of the day’s reading, thoughts that often delve deep into the well of Catholic tradition and spirituality. They are Benedictine oblates, and that form of the spiritual life finds concrete expression in the interactions between bishop and bear.

At varying times the Bear is proud of his achievements, discouraged by his failures, or gazing longingly at the fat ponies in the nearby pastureland. Sometimes he is the most devoted Catholic in Bavaria, other times he wonders if God even exists. In other words, his lived experience of Lent is very much like that of any Catholic who tries for the first time — maybe even for the twentieth time — to take the 40 Days of penance, fasting, and prayer seriously. It is easy to start strong with high-mindedness, and also very easy to run right into a spiritual gopher hole and twist your ankle.

To say much more would be to give away the fun stuff. Tolle lege, take up and read.

[The Lenten Companion for Bearish Humans is available through Amazon and Hope and Life Press. If you decide to purchase books through Amazon, you can support Dappled Things while doing so by buying them through our Amazon Smile account.]

Originally published at