Sense and Sensibility

A Lenten Exploration

Sam Portaro

Nov/2018, 96 Pages, Paperback, 5 x 7

ISBN-13: 9781640651272



Daily Lenten reflections with a novel approach.

Lent is often a season given to denial of physical pleasure and sensation, but we're already denied these by a cultural atmosphere saturated with visual images, noise and air pollution, violence, and processed foods that dull the senses. The physical senses play an integral role in the human capacity for emotion and feeling. Overstimulation in the physical senses gradually erodes one’s ability to feel emotion. Yet empathy—emotional identification and connection with others—is crucial to liturgical engagement, especially in the highly dramatic practices of the signal events of the Christian Year.

Sam Portaro proposes to restore our ability to participate emotionally in the Lenten journey by revisiting the five physical senses—one per week—in Lent. The discipline of a 40-day preparation for Easter suggests the importance the Church places on this seasonal retelling of the central acts of Christian redemption. Sense and Sensibility encourages the reader to renew a relationship with the physical senses that is a prerequisite to a deeply attuned engagement with the biblical stories read, taught, and liturgically re-enacted in the rites of Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter.

Sam Portaro, formerly Episcopal Chaplain to the University of Chicago and Director of Brent House, has had a long and rich career in campus ministry mentoring students and young adults. He lives near Chicago, Illinois.

"I can think of no better way to journey though Lent and Holy Week than to join Sam Portaro in an exploration of our five senses as pathways to a fuller awareness of ourselves and our relation to God. Drawing on the liturgy of the season and the lived scripture of his own life, Portaro calls to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell with a heightened awareness of what these dimensions of our humanity reveal and call forth from us as we travel from Ash Wednesday to Easter." —Frank Griswold, 25th Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church

"Sensuality and bodily experience: descriptions rarely applied to a Lenten study book, but here, directly on point. In an age when most of us live digitally, Sam beckons us to the incarnate life and asks us to engage our selves, souls, and bodies with Jesus as we travel toward the empty tomb. A must-read for any Christian on the journey today." —Michael R. Sullivan, President/CEO, Kanuga Conferences

"'Listen,'" begins the Rule of St. Benedict. It's a directive Sam Portaro has taken to heart. In Sense and Sensibility, Portaro offers us a refreshing new approach to the season of Lent, one that recognizes our humanity in a way that honors the ascetic tradition without denying what we know in our bones to be true: that flesh and blood are holy. In an age of sensory overload, Portaro's message is especially poignant. We must learn to retune our senses, he argues, if we are to engage the familiar stories and rites of Lent in a way that is nourishing to both body and soul." —Susan Hanson, Author of Icons of Loss and Grace: Moments from the Natural World and former Episcopal college chaplain

"Christianity is a practice, a way of life that brings us into ever closer proximity to divine grace. Sam Portaro's words in Sense Sensibility remind us of all the ways the truth of the Gospel touches our lives - literally. In a world often devoid of wonder, we all need reminders that God is near us, in our hearts, on our lips, and all around." —Marcus Halley, Rector of Saint Paul's Church on Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis

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