Lent begins this Wednesday, so of course my parish started handing out Little Black Books. I've written about the Little Black Books before and I was not kind to them. It seemed to me that their meditations were too touchy-feely, self-centered, and even heterodox.
It's possible I was too hard on the Little Book. After all, one of my strongest criticisms was of the book's choice of words, "the whole Christ offers the whole Christ," referring to the congregation offering the Eucharist in the Mass. Then I found out that the Catechism of the Catholic Church uses similar language in a few places, e.g. where #795 says, "Christ and his Church thus together make up the 'whole Christ' (Christus totus)."
After a look at this year's model, though I'm pretty comfortable with my initial impression.
I happened to pick up a copy and open it to a random page, which turned out to be Thursday of the second week of Lent. The scripture reading is the scene from Matthew's Gospel of Judas leading the crowd to arrest Jesus. The Little Book talks about the "shock" of having one of Jesus' closest disciples being the one to arrest him. It then gives us this bit of theological speculation:
Later that night, when Jesus was in his "holding cell" at the high priest's house and everyone was asleep, Jesus must have turned this over and over in his mind. What went wrong between me and Judas? Is there anything I could have done to prevent this?
The Gospels make it pretty clear that Jesus had Judas' number from the beginning. Jesus even said at the Last Supper that one of the Twelve would betray him. Besides, the divinity of Jesus (which would naturally include omniscience) is a central part of Catholic doctrine (and the Little Book is by and for Catholics).
Here, the Little Book has Jesus angsting like a battered spouse, wondering what he did to bring this on Himself. It's pathetic. It's insultng. It at least borders on blasphemy.
Okay, I admit it: I only looked at one page. Maybe the rest of the book is fine. But between this and my past experience, I'm not going to put all the time and effort into reading through the whole thing to make sure. I'd rather put that time and energy into finding some kind of Lenten reading material that I know I can trust.
I think I might just stick with the Gospels themselves.