Did Advent catch you off guard this year? Don’t fret! Pick up Advent With St. Teresa of Calcutta by Heidi Hess Saxton. This small but powerful book will hold your hand for the rest of this blessed season of the Church.
In this prayer book, you will find readings for each day of Advent. They will include some scripture as well as other suggested Bible readings. I have to admit, part of me grumbles about having to pull my Bible out and look up verses but then I am immediately grateful, knowing that I have let the practice slip. As Catholics we should be avid Bible readers and Advent (the Catholic New Year) is a wonderful time to commit or recommit to reading our Bibles.
Next in the daily reflection, there will be a few paragraphs of wisdom from Mother Teresa, her writings and her talks, and from various people who knew her. This is my favorite part because I feel like I’m being fed with both spiritually by the words and I’m learning a great deal about this new saint! The facts are well chosen and the corresponding questions are deep and thought-provoking.
The author does a fantastic job of making this nun’s life dedicated to serving the poor feel somehow connected and relevant to my American suburban life as a stay-at-home-mom.
Each day ends with reflection questions and a short prayer. I contemplated sharing all my highlights but there were so many and I felt that they seemed disjointed without the whole reading. Instead I will post one of my favorite days and give the entire reading to give you an idea of the format and the length. These reflections took me 5-10 minutes, depending on how long I would meditate on the questions.
Here is an excerpt from the book featuring a full day’s entry:
Second Saturday of Advent
Sirach 48:1–11; Psalm 80:1–19; Matthew 17:9–13 Then Elijah arose, a prophet like fire, and his word burned like a torch…. By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens, and also three times brought down fire. How glorious you were, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours? —Sirach 48:1–4
In today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 17:9–13), the Lord revealed the John the Baptist had been the “Elijah” the scribes had foretold would precede the Messiah. But “they did not recognize him” (17:12), just as the religious establishment of his day did not recognize Jesus as the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah.
Part of the reason such greatness flies under the radar of most people is because of the form it takes. In the kingdom of Heaven, the first shall be last, the greatest least, and the master is the servant of all. During this season of Advent we anticipate the greatest example of this mysterious paradox: How the king of heaven and earth was willing to make himself so small and helpless. Had trumpets blazed from heaven and fiery chariots fallen to earth, perhaps his message would have fallen on ears more predisposed to hear it. Instead, he flew “under the radar” as an ordinary man with an extraordinary mission…much like his cousin, the kindred spirit of Elijah whom St. Teresa called the “other wire.”
Our Lady was the most wonderful wire! She surrendered completely to God, became full of grace, and the current—the grace of God—flowed through her. The moment she was filled with this current, she went to Elizabeth’s house to connect that other wire—John—to the current—Jesus. And Elizabeth said, “This child leapt with joy in my womb at your voice.” Let us ask Mary to help make that current within us so that Jesus can use us around the world to connect the hearts of men with the current, Jesus.20
On their own, two sets of wire (one charged with current, the other dead) can look exactly alike. What makes them useful is being plugged into the power source. In the same way, we can go through the same motions week after week out of a sense of tradition or duty. It isn’t until we acknowledge our own powerlessness and ask God to fill us with grace that, like Elijah and John, we become conduits of that grace to others.
A Moment to Reflect
• Sometimes God speaks to us in subtle ways—a line of Scripture or a timely word from a friend. How has God made his presence known to you this week? • How will you “connect” with those around you, to share with them the joy of the Advent season?
A Moment to Pray
O Eternal Mystery, reveal yourself to my heart today. Help me to see the signs of your love and compassion, and to share those with others as well. St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!
I hope that gives you a good idea what this book is about. I did read this in advance but I look forward to going it through it more slowly through Advent. I’d love to see quotes from this booked posted all over social media to bring more light and peace into the world!
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Copyright 2016 Sterling Jaquith
Excerpt from Advent with St. Teresa of Calcutta is reprinted with permission of the author.