(Reprint) Jane Austen Lenten Reflections

Two blogs and many moons ago, I wrote a series of Lenten reflections on the novels of Jane Austen.  Faith and Family Live had even linked to them.  But my original blog is gone, and I’ve had a few requests to reprint the reflections here.  I’ll roll them out over the next few weeks, with the hope that, though time has passed and my good opinion of their profundity has lessened, you’ll enjoy them nonetheless. Happy reading! – RO

Jane Austen for Lent?

I’m reminded of Senior Essay writing time in college. I, like a good Janeite, had chosen to write my essay on Mansfield Park, but others had chosen other difficult and (in my opinion) less interesting texts to slug through in the dreary, weary month of January, such as Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (ugh). One day, my friend Laura brought her “break book” to lunch, a Dorothy Sayers mystery.

“Oh,” I said earnestly, after she explained the book’s presence, “I should get a break book, too.”

You,” blurted out another student emphatically, “are writing on Jane Austen. You don’t need a break book!” Never a truer word was spoken!

Sincerely, I’m not in need of a catechetical refresher course on the meaning of penance. Yes, I like reading Jane Austen, and yes, my usual practice is to give up reading her and other enjoyable writers so as to grow closer with Our Lord through detachment and silence. But a project has surfaced, almost of its own accord: my plan is to write a series of reflections about the development and display of virtue and vice in Austen’s stories. I remembered how rich her stories are for this type of reflection after watching the newest Emma adaptation a few weeks ago, and a Lent spent thinking about the delicate movements of virtue and vice in literature will, I hope, translate into greater consideration of virtue and vice in my own life.

If this interests you, keep checking back. My hope is to post a reflection every one to three days. Who knows? Perhaps writing and posting reflections consistently for the 40+ days may prove to be a greater challenge than any other penance this Lent!

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