on Oct. 2, 2015
Genres: Christmas, Religion
Source: the publisher through NetGalley
With prayerful reflections drawn from the words of Pope Francis, this Advent companion helps you prepare for the Christmas season. With Scripture citations for each day of the season, a selection from the pope’s writings, and ways to bring the pope’s message into your life, The Joy of Advent will lend a moment’s meditation to even your busiest days.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
The Joy of Advent is a devotional based on writings, sermons, and prayers of Pope Francis. Straightforward and filled with Francis’s message of joy and of God’s love, it’s easy to follow though sometimes challenging to put into practice, making it a good choice for an Advent devotional – with a few caveats.
Each day begins with list of scripture readings for the day, followed by “A Word from Pope Francis” – essentially a sermon or homily drawn from Francis’s writings or addresses. However, because the selections weren’t all originally intended for or delivered during Advent, they may reflect the theme of the readings but don’t always address or comment on the readings directly. In “Taking the Word to Heart”, the author/compiler, Diane M. Houdek, looks at the readings and ties them to Francis’s words. “Bringing the Word to Life” suggests ways to apply whatever was discussed or learned in the first two sections to your own life. The day then closes with a prayer from Pope Francis (not written for this book) that relates to the day’s devotion, though not always perfectly.
It’s hard to review this sort of book without experiencing it as it is meant to be used, so although I received a review e-copy back in October, I decided to read it during Advent, daily. (Well, to be completely honest, I’ve missed a few days here and there and had to make them up — but I’m trying to make time each day!)
As with any devotional or daily prayer book, I’ve found that some days’ reflections really resonate with me, while others are harder to connect to — and those may be the ones I need the most. Pope Francis’s message of God’s love for us and ours for God comes across very clearly, but I wish the reflections focused more specifically on the scripture readings. The drawback of the book’s “taken from Francis’s words” approach is that the connection between readings and reflection is not as close as it would be if Francis had set out to write a devotional himself. I would also appreciate having the text of the readings included within the book, instead of merely listed, so I could easily refer back to them.
Despite these reservations, many readers may find The Joy of Advent helpful in stepping out of the bustle of holiday preparations and focusing on the the joy of the season.