Almost every year I try to gather suggested Advent materials or reading selections to share with y’all. Last year, I skipped that in order to write out a daily-read series based on the lectionary, which was both a satisfying and sometimes overwhelming task.
As a Christian, I actually loved taking the time each day to really engage and ponder Advent on deeper and very specific levels.
As a writer, I came to realize that such a series is best undertaken in September, when the season is not yet bearing down on one.
As a reader, I came to better appreciate the value of those little pocket-and-purse sized daily Advent readers and devotionals that publishers release just in time for us to take in hand and use well. This Advent, I am using and recommending The Living Gospel by Deacon Greg Kandra.
I’ve got a copy for my purse and also one on my Kindle, so I can keep this surprising little gem close at hand wherever I happen to be when I am ready to read.
Did I say “surprising little gem”? Yes. For stuff like this:
What Are You Waiting For?
What are you waiting for right now?
Most people would say: I’m waiting for Christmas, the birth od Jesus! I’m waiting for parties and presents, cards and carols. But the gospel reading that begins our Advent season suggests something else. We are waiting for an event that transcends the tinsel and the tree — it even transcends time.
What we are waiting for, really, is the end of time.
Well hows that for a slap-you-awake moment? The Living Gospel is full of these ideas that stop you in your tracks, and make you want to really think things through. I’m hoping to use the devotional with Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble’s Memento Mori journal, as often as I can, to really deepen my experience of Advent, which is my favorite season, but which so often gets away from me unless I have something really engaging to help me buckle down.
Speaking of engaging Advent reading, but on the lengthier side, I asked a few members of the Word on Fire staff to recommend their favorite Advent material and am now happily looking forward to reading two books that weren’t at all on my radar at all for this season.
The Life of Christ and The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God, both by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen are twin Advent suggestions that show this great evangelist — who reminds us that “If Christmas were just the birthday of a great teacher, like Socrates or Buddha, it would never have split time into two, so that all history before the advent of Christ is called B.C. and all history after, A.D.” — at his teaching best.
“Love burdens itself with the wants and woes and losses and even the wrongs of others.” Sheen says in the Life of Christ, and then, of The World’s First Love he writes: “The mystery of the Incarnation is very simply that of God’s asking a woman freely to give Him a human nature.”
Good heavens, just two lines and there’s a week’s worth of Advent lectio!
Indeed! I’m looking forward to using using these great and instructive tools — from a deacon, a nun and a bishop! — this year.
Check out the Word on Fire recommendations, which take you from St. Athanasius to Benedict, to T.S. Eliot and Merton, to a kid’s book and even a coloring book, here.