The peace of Christmas: oh, yes, please. Bring on all the peace. I don’t know about you, but as Christmas nears, I feel far more frantic than peaceful.
Diane Houdek might as well have been writing this book for me. It seems that the push for Christmas — a very non-peaceful push, I might add — has begun earlier and earlier. I ran into a store on the day before Halloween and there were already Christmas decorations all over the place. Now, I’m all for being prepared as much as the next girl, but during November, I want to smell poultry seasoning when I’m in the supermarket, not peppermint sticks and clove-studded oranges.
In the introduction to The Peace of Christmas, Houdek notes that she grew up with a gradual buildup to Christmas during the Advent season. That’s something I’ve tried to do with my own family over the years, so it definitely rang true for me. She observes,
The wonder of the Christmas event itself can get lost in the celebration. The Peace of Christmas offers an opportunity to reflect with Pope Francis on the many moods and challenges of one of the central realities of our faith: Our God became one of us, came to dwell in our midst, and began life as we all do, as a tiny baby, needy and vulnerable and dependent on the people around him for her very survival. (xiii)
This devotional isn’t the kind of book you need to read straight through, one reflection each day. You certainly can read it that way if you choose. The reflections are arranged chronologically, beginning with a gratitude-themed essay that is perfect for Thanksgiving, and continuing through Advent and the Christmas season.
Each entry in this book is only a couple of pages long (so you won’t feel stressed-out trying to keep up with it) and has three parts: a quiet reflection from Pope Francis, followed by “A Christmas Reality” — a reality check from the author on how to live out Pope Francis’ teaching, and “Your Christmas Gift Today,” an action item that’s not something so taxing that it will cause you to feel you have yet another obligation on a day that’s already packed with things to do, places to go, and stuff to check off your ever-growing list.
The Peace of Christmas is a gift you can give yourself at the beginning of this very busy season. Allow yourself a few moments each day to unwrap the beauty of this wonderful time of year, to revel in thanksgiving, anticipation, joy, and peace.
About the author: Diane M. Houdek is the author of The Joy of Advent, Pope Francis and Our Call to Joy, Lent with St. Francis, Advent with St. Francis and The Hope of Lent. She is a professed Secular Franciscan with a bachelors degree in English and history from Marquette University and a masters degree in English literature from Northwestern University. She is the digital book editor for Franciscan Media and past editor of Weekday Homily Helps and Bringing Home the Word.
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Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
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