It may seem to early to begin touting terrific Advent resources, but with the change of the calendar to November we know that before we know it we’ll be on the countdown to Christmas. So I decided that today is the perfect day to share with you a beautiful new Advent resource, edited by a friend and mentor of mine Louise Pare. Louise is typically behind the scenes on writing projects, but with A Eucharistic Christmas: Advent Meditations on the Presence of Christ she has created a beautiful resource for our families. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Louise and that you’ll consider this lovely book for your family’s Advent devotional reading.
Q: Louise, it’s a tremendous treat to have the opportunity to discuss the new project A Eucharistic Christmas: Advent Meditations on the Presence of Christ with you. Let’s start off by having you introduce yourself to our readers.
I just celebrated 40 years of working for Servant books, 30 years in Ann Arbor and 10 years since Servant was purchased by Franciscan Media in 2014. I’ve done a little bit of everything over the years but most recently I’ve been working with authors to acquire books and develop product ideas. I’m also helping out a bit with Marketing. In my personal life, I am a consecrated virgin, a form of consecrated life where you live in the world under the authority of your diocesan bishop. My work at Servant gives me a great outreach to spread God’s words to millions of people—what a blessing!
Q: Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I typically find you “behind the scenes” on books. Tell me about this special project — how did you conceive of it and what were your hopes for the book?
Working on this book was a new experience for me. We have so much good material in other books that we like to use it to highlight different themes. It occurred to me that during Advent we focus on the coming of Christ in human form. We sing Oh Come, Emmanuel but we forget that we have God with us every day in a special way in the Eucharist. I wanted to call attention to the nearness of Christ and encourage greater devotion to his Eucharistic presence.
Q: The book captures multiple voices in its celebration of the Advent and Christmas seasons. Who are some of the authors involved in the project?
It was fun for me to delve into the writings of such great Catholic authors to make selections for this book. Fr, Peter John Cameron, editor of Magnificat, touches very deeply on the intimacy with Christ available in Eucharistic adoration. Some of my favorite selections are from Fr. Andrew Apostoli, talking about Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s love for the Blessed Sacrament and his practice of making a daily Holy Hour. There is a story of what inspired him to do so that will touch readers deeply.
There are so many aspects of Eucharistic devotion and each authors voice contributes to the whole picture. Some of those included are Johnnette Benkovic, Frank Sheed, Archbishop Chaput and many others—a dozen contributors in all.
Some of the selections are testimonies from people who made a commitment to spend time in adoration. They share their own experiences of what they did, how they grew spiritually, and what they learned. So, there is a little something in here for every readers interest.
Q: How does this book differ from other Advent resources out there?
Most Advent books start the first day of Advent and go either until Christmas, or through the Christmas liturgical season. I wanted this book to be friendly for everybody even if they are not tuned into liturgical seasons. Advent calendars all begin on December 1st so this starts with December 1st. And everybody knows about the twelve days of Christmas, so the daily meditations continue through the twelve days of Christmas.
Another difference is that many Advent devotionals are keyed to the Scripture readings for each day. This one is built on a theme of the Eucharist—not a theme you often connect to this season. But it really does connect because Advent is a time of longing for Christ’s coming. We feel close to Jesus, we follow his story, we love all the details of the signs of his coming, the preparation for his birth and the marvelous simplicity of his coming. We rejoice with the shepherds and the Wise Men and we can almost hear those angels singing. All this human longing and connection to Jesus is fulfilled in the Eucharist. He is always so close to us, yet we often overlook the wonder of his presence.
Q: How did your work on this project impact upon your own perceptions about the Advent season?
Advent to me is always a season of hope and promise and waiting for God’s intervention in our lives and a time when God’s saving grace becoming visible and tangible. Working on this book was very humbling as I realized again and again how all those longings are satisfied in the Blessed Sacrament. It made me realize how often I take his presence for granted and it has deepened my love for his Eucharistic presence. So it has affected not only my perception of Advent, but also my attitude toward the Blessed Sacrament every day.
Q: How might families use this book during their prayer time together this year?
The book is designed with a short meditation for every day, followed by a very brief reflection and prayer. One of my goals was to keep it simple. I wanted everybody to find something here so even children could make a response. There are so many ways to connect to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, in times of adoration, at Sunday Mass, in the tabernacle, in our thoughts about him. A little advance thought and preparation makes each Communion more worshipful. Some of the reflections talk about the respect we show to Jesus in the tabernacle. Children love the beauty and mystery of his presence. Even times of adoration are within reach of young children. There is something profound about the way his presence touches the simplest of hearts.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from their encounter with the book?
This is a busy time of year and we can become overwhelmed by all the activity. My hope is that the few minutes of reflection this book suggests will provide that still space where Jesus dwells and that we all learn to nurture that knowledge of his presence with us. My deepest hope is that the readers will grow deeper in their love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in a way that will change their lives as they come in closer contact with him. That sounds like a big goal, but I am convinced that Jesus longs for that connection with us.
Q: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?
Love Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament! There is no greater manifestation of his love for us. What a gift!
Copyright 2014 Lisa M. Hendey