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Lent: An Uncommon Love Story
by Antoinette Bosco
Pauline Books and Media, January 2005, paperback, 128 pages
Reviewed by Lisa Hendey
My favorite Lenten resources and devotions focus on the occasions for joy and the emphasis on love and service during this season of preparation for Easter and the glory of Jesus' resurrection. This Lent, I've added a new resource to my devotional library. Lent: An Uncommon Love Story (Pauline Books and Media, January 2005, paperback, 128 pages) is a wonderful Lenten reflection by noted Catholic author Antoinette Bosco. This simple yet profound look at Lent focuses upon the story of Christ's love for us. In moments of despair and pain, Bosco points her reader to the opportunity for a deepening relationship with God.
Bosco, mother of seven and prolific author, writes about transcending suffering from an informed perspective. In this book, she freely shares her own family's sometimes tragic experiences, as well as her personal Lenten journey. In addition to Lent: An Uncommon Love Story, Bosco is also the author of the award winning children's book The Jesus Garden: An Easter Legend (Pauline Books and Media, February 2004, hardcover, 44 pages).
As we enjoy the culmination of our Lenten devotions and enter into the glorious season of Easter, I took the opportunity to speak with Antoinette Bosco about her writing.
Q: Antoinette Bosco, author of the newly released Lent: An Uncommon Love Story, would you please start off by telling our readers a bit about yourself?
A: It is always difficult to say a few words about oneself because we become self-consciously nervous about putting too much in, or leaving something important out. I was very fortunate to be the daughter of Italian immigrants, who gave me my Catholic faith and my values at a very early age. I am the mother of seven, three deceased, was fortunate to have had a college education so I could support my children when I became a single parent in 1967. My work has always been in media, as a magazine writer, a book author, a reporter and an editor, both for the Catholic and secular press. Since I was very young, I also worked for social justice, even serving for many years as a Human Rights Commissioner on Long Island, N.Y. My son John and his wife Nancy were murdered by an 18-year old in 1993, and ever since then I have worked to end the death penalty in our country. My alma mater, the College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y. awarded me an honorary doctoral degree in 1996; my book "Choosing Mercy, A Mother of Murder Victims Pleads to End the Death Penalty," was give both a Christopher Award and a Pax Christi Award. To date I have written 14 books. Q: I have to say that I was deeply touched by your book, Lent: An Uncommon Love Story - would you please tell our readers what message you were trying to convey through this book?
A: I was asked to write a book about Lent by Sister Madonna, the acquisitions editor at Pauline Books & Media, at the very time my son Sterling was hospitalized with a failing heart. He was a devout Catholic, and when I told him about the request, saying I just couldn't write a book right now, he was the one who made me change my mind. We talked about how Lent is the time that assures us we are never alone in our sufferings, losses or hardships. We are there, in the desert with Jesus, who could have said "no" to his Father, knowing the pain, rejection and death that would be ahead for him. But Jesus said "Yes," and then left the desert and worked full time for the next three years doing nothing but loving us. Jesus lived a love story for us that began in his Lenten days in the desert. The week I finished the book, my son Sterling died, but he left me with his affirmation that Lent is a love story that he wanted me to underscore.
Q: You shared so deeply and so personally in the book about your own Lenten journey that I came to feel a closeness to you through your words. I know that your family has endured many hardships, and that their cumulative effect makes you the person you are today. Is it difficult or cathartic to share your life's challenges with such openness and sincerity?
A: I have written several books in which I share some of the difficult experiences of my life--like the suicide of my youngest son Peter, who suffered from a bi-polar mental disorder and the murders of my beloved John and Nancy. But I wrote these books not as the sad story of my life, but as an affirmation of faith, which gives us strength, hope, vision, power, grace, empathy, compassion for others, and after a hard journey, the joy of Christ, who pioneered all the difficult paths we face so as to show us we have never been alone. The response I have received from people who have read my books or heard me speak has assured me any difficult I have faced in sharing my stories is worth it.
Q: What meaning does Lent hold for you at this stage in your life?
A: At this stage of my life, Lent is a very special time. I always remember the early days of my single parenting, when I worked day and night, little sleep, many hardships. I was angry at the Lord at times, and I remember crying one night that I live in Lent, that I am lost and locked in the desert. It was as if I heard a voice asking, "Then why do you stay?" Without a thought, spontaneously I whispered, "because I love my children." And I was given to know that's why Jesus stayed in the desert, because he loved his children. Every Lent, I focus on this incredible love of the Lord for us, and it helps me not get lost in the cutting paths I still must sometimes travel.
Q: I am also a major fan of your wonderful children's book, The Jesus Garden: An Easter Legend, also published by Pauline Books and Media. Could you please share about the creation of this book?
A: "The Jesus Garden" is my surprise book. It contains stories that I wrote and told my children when they were small. A few years ago, after a lovely meeting with Sister Madonna, I thanked her by sending her a copy of these stories for her to enjoy. To my surprise, sometime later I got a call from the Pauline Sisters that they wanted to hire an artist and publish my stories as "an Easter fantasy." I was delighted and my children were soaring. We love the book, which has just received a Silver Angel Award from Excellence in Media!
Q: I loved the book for your ability to make Christ's passion, death and resurrection into something that was not "scary" for children, but rather a reflection of his great love for each of us as individuals. How can parents share with their children the true joy of the Easter message?
A: The best way that parents can share the true joy of the Easter message is to be joyful and believing themselves. There's an old saying that "What you are shouts so loud I can't hear what you say." All parents should remember that.
Q: Do you have any future projects in the works?
A: Right now I am working very hard speaking mainly to young people in high school and college about the need for reform of our criminal justice system and the immorality of the death penalty. I've written 14 books in my years of being in the media, with a recent one that contains much of my life learning called "One Day he Beckoned, One Woman's Story of the Difference Jesus Made," (Ave Maria Press), followed by "Miracles Abound, When We Open Our Hearts to God," (Twenty-Third Publications). With "Lent, An Uncommon Love Story," I am taking a bit of a break, to catch my breath!
For more information on Lent, An Uncommon Love Story visit http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0819845140/catholicmomcom
For more information on The Jesus Garden: An Easter Legend visit http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0819839795/catholicmomcom
Lisa M. Hendey is a mother of two sons, webmaster of numerous web sites, including http://www.catholicmom.com and http://www.christiancoloring.com, and an avid reader of Catholic literature. Visit her at http://www.lisahendey.com for more information.