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Susan Ciancio shares her motivation for writing a new booklet to help families live and pray through the season of Advent.

Like so many women, I have an idealized version of what a family is supposed to look like. Though every family has its own unique components, at its core, a family should be led by a loving and faithful husband and wife who spend quality time not only having fun with their kids but, more importantly, teaching them the faith.

Should, of course, is the operative word. In reality, we know that life is messy. Families can be messy. Divorce, illness, anger, loss of faith, and other traumas get in the way of that pie-in-the-sky version of family that many little girls grow up desiring.

But that doesn’t mean we should change our objectives in life. It doesn’t mean we just give up and allow the world to take over. God wants more than that for us, and the deeper we get to know Him, the greater we understand His love and His mercy.

I recently read a book that illustrated this fact perfectly. Change of Possession, by JT Dwyer, really hit home as it beautifully illustrated God’s mercy and the difference between God’s perfect will and God’s permissive will. It is the story of a Catholic family battling numerous demons—a wayward daughter, a son struggling with morality, a troubled marriage. And then there are two younger children who have not yet been “possessed” by the evil of the world but who are dangerously close to falling into that trap, as even at their respective Catholic schools they encounter sin, wokeness, and confusion on a daily basis.

The story resonated with me not because I necessarily identified with some aspects of that broken family but because of the author’s realistic depiction of the battles that many of us face these days. It’s a heartbreaking reality, but one that ends in mercy and forgiveness. Throughout all the twists and turns, one theme remains constant: hope.




And in that hope we see that the world can be a better place. We see that, though the world may be possessed by evil, we don’t have to sit passively and allow that evil take hold of us or our families. We must fight against it, push back against the forces that want to engulf our children, and do our best to educate them in the faith, teach them about the love of God, and show them that there is another way—a better way.

Families are vital to society. As parents, we understand the importance of teaching children to see the beauty in our faith and to help them grow and become stronger in their relationship with Christ. And as faithful Catholic adults, we see this clearly. But often our kids can’t see this. Their world is clouded; there’s too much noise stifling who they are meant to be as children of God. They need help seeing this. They need our guidance.

Understanding all this is why I wrote an Advent booklet specifically geared for families to read aloud. This daily reflection guide, Awaiting the Gift of Christ: Walking with the Saints This Advent, uses the lives of the saints and words of wisdom from the Catechism of the Catholic Church to enrich your journey through Advent in just a handful of minutes every day. Each entry offers a teaching from the Catechism, a story of a saint who lived that teaching, a short reflection, and concrete examples for what you can do together as a family to live out that teaching. It’s a great way to come together as a family, to combat the demons that possess our society, and to strengthen our relationship with our God who loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us.

Christ’s birth is an immense gift, but His death and Resurrection are what saved us and what give us life. The days leading up to His birth should be a time of reflection, a time of thanks, a time to silence the world and allow God to enter our hearts, and a time to draw our families close.

While many of us may feel despair as we look around the world, and while many of us see ourselves in fictional families like the one in Change of Possession, we must allow our Lord’s love and mercy to help us see ourselves as God’s beloved children. We must have hope in that tiny baby who will come soon. And we must never give in to the evil that seeks to possess and destroy us.




Copyright 2022 Susan Ciancio
Images: Canva