Do you struggle with praying with Scripture? In her latest column, Ava Lalor shares a…
Dive into Scripture with your teens through fiction
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had difficulty falling asleep efficiently. In middle school, I remember watching the minutes change on the analog clock in my bedroom after unintentionally avoiding sleep for an hour or so most nights. Luckily, my sleep habits got better come high school and college.
But in my young adult years, sleeplessness has become prominent once again. This time around, though, I’ve come to know the usual suspects: primarily a lack of movement throughout the day, and being on my phone for too long and too close to bedtime.
As I’ve found a few ways to work around it, one habit has become essential: reading for at least a few minutes before shutting my eyes. As a lifelong reader, it’s a nice way to keep plowing through my unconquerable to-be-read book stack. But it also helps settle my mind — as long as I strictly stay away from high intensity page-turners that I have difficulty putting aside. While I love my fun, binge-worthy novels, my nighttime reading routine has mellowed out, often relying on the saints to put me to sleep. (Sorry, Teresa of Ávila; you lost me halfway through “Interior Castle.”)
At the same time, I’ve been exploring lighter novels — often appropriate for middle schoolers or high schoolers. One such novel appeared in my work mailbox a couple months ago: a new release from OSV titled “Beckoning.”
The story follows Tabby Long, a young, non-Christian girl attending a Catholic school. Very quickly, her life — and her family’s life — is upended when her father experiences a miraculous healing during the veneration of the cross at a Good Friday service. This moment changes everything for the family, as her father explores the Faith he’s found and her mother rejects any religious connection to her husband’s healing. Tabby, torn between her parents, finds herself asking questions about God and faith that, despite her Catholic schooling and Catholic friends, she had never pondered before.
Her own story takes a turn when she talks to her religion teacher about what’s going on in her family. His suggestion: read Scripture in adoration — but not only read Scripture; dive into it, placing herself in the story using Ignatian meditation. Familiar with both Scripture and adoration within the school setting, Tabby is hesitant to take the step, but her desire for answers is stronger.
Very quickly, she finds herself not just immersed in the story of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, but living it. Transported into this first-century Jerusalem, she experiences the story of the beginning chapters of the Acts of the Apostles from the perspective of an outsider: the daughter of a Roman centurion whose family is suddenly torn because of their opposing beliefs in Jeshua. This story mirrors her modern-day family’s struggles and gives her insights into how to bring them back together.
To say much more would be to spoil much of the story, but I will close by saying this. I’ve read enough historical fiction, including stories set around the time of Christ, to know that what author Claudia Cangilla McAdam has done in “Beckoning” is not easy. It’s a lighthearted story filled with tough realities: struggling relationships in families, death, questioning God’s goodness, and the ability to cling to faith with hope. Though there were a few times I felt I had missed a detail in previous chapters — probably because I tend to read too fast and miss information — I found myself thoroughly invested in this novel written for teens/tweens. I was most impressed with how McAdam was able to tie in Scriptural events and characters into a novel that was approachable for a younger audience.
While I read this novel at the beginning of Lent, it would be a perfect Easter gift for both teen/tween boys and girls. I would even encourage parents to read it along with their kids to encourage conversation about the events surrounding Easter and the early Church. It’s also a beautiful opportunity to talk about prayer with them, inviting them to immerse themselves in Scripture and see how God’s word can guide us in our struggles today.
As we continue through Lent and approach the Easter season, let each of us take this opportunity to dive deeper into Scripture, especially regarding the Passion narratives and the events surrounding the Resurrection. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is in him that we put our faith.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.