O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath
by Lisa M. Hendey
Ave Maria Press, October, 2012
That “most wonderful time of the year” is fast approaching with its busy demands: shopping, eggnog, cookies, parties, Christmas music, more shopping, more cooking, spiked eggnog, gift wrapping, and, of course, church.
Advent is just as wonderful. And yet the demands of preparing for Christmas often conflict with our celebration of Advent and the preparing of our hearts for the coming of the Jesus – not because we lack good intentions, but because we are so busy.
Between Advent and Christmas, we cannot fight fire with fire. If Christmas is a time of celebrating the Infant Christ with family and friends, with dinners, parties, and gifts, a time of rejoicing and fullness of life, then Advent is one of simplicity – a “little Lent” to prepare the way for the Lord.
Rich simplicity is the distinguishing mark of O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath, by popular author and founder of CatholicMom.com, Lisa Hendey. Rich, because copious spiritual fruit lies between its pages. Simple, because it is written with a mother's practicality.
Hendey makes no attempt to coin a newfangled way of praying around the Advent wreath. She opts for liturgical and Biblical rootedness, opening with a short call-and-response and singing, followed by a Biblical passage and questions for reflection, and ending with a prayer of Hendey's composition.
Unique to O Radiant Dawn are its questions for reflection. How hard it is to ask a good question! So often I find the reflection questions in my devotional reading to be either condescending or precluding a given, pious answer, thereby diminishing deeper personal reflection. Writing an open-ended question that hearkens to the meat of a Scripture passage and the depths of one's soul requires some talent.
Happily, Hendey has that knack. O Radiant Dawn asks good, simple, thought-provoking questions each day, one for adults and older children, and another for young children. Simple questions, rich answers.
Also simple are Hendey's directions for using the booklet, advocating, with motherly insight, an “easy does it” approach: “There is no right way to use this booklet.... Prayer around the Advent wreath is a devotion that carries rich tradition yet it is not regulated as is our liturgical prayer. Reverence and prayerful attention are called for, but adaptation to the needs of your household are most welcome, perhaps even essential.”
Having a young child necessitates that we be flexible about how we celebrate the holidays. We could, for example, have a Jesse Tree, but without using the fragile, handcrafted Jesse Tree ornaments we acquired early in our marriage. Hendey's advice encourages us parents to be hopeful and idealistic, yet practical and detached, in the way we live our faith within our families. It's as though she's been there, done that – and she has!
If you are looking for an uncomplicated way to open wide your heart to receive the Christ Child this Advent and Christmas, check out O Radiant Dawn. Five minutes around the Advent wreath may be just what you need this busy holiday season.
Newsflash: Order O Radiant Dawn for only $1 when you order 10 copies or more. Use the promo code catholicmom12 when placing your order at www.avemariapress.com to get this great deal. Advent will be here before you know it! Offer expires 12/15/12.
Copyright 2012 Rhonda Ortiz
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