I purchased The Essential Advent and Christmas Handbook this year with the intent of using it. I devoured the entire book prior to Advent, but with the birth of my baby a month before the Christmas season, I was a little, um, busy. I did manage to use it for the Christmas-Epiphany season, but I am really looking forward to having a little time to devote to my own preparation of Christmas next year. Like its counterpart for Lent, this volume is another fabulous resource for all your personal Advent & Christmas needs.
The thing that I think I love MOST about this book is that it serves the needs of both those who are more tradition and more contemporary. As a base, the book begins with two different versions of each the morning and evening prayers. Want to know more about Advent? Continue to the next section which has a short history of Advent and some of it’s more well known traditions. Interested in bringing God into your home? Section three includes traditional practices of Advent, including the Advent wreath & various services that may take place in your parish.
Section Four has a few essays that talk about Advent as a time of waiting and section five has some appropriate prayers for Lent. If you are interested in making more time for God, section six includes daily meditations, both contemporary and traditional meditations of St. Alphonsus. (You will need your bible for the readings as they are not included in the text.) Section Seven covers the Saints and Feast Days–there are a ton! The next section has information on the Christmas season and some traditional practices (Christmas tree, Feast of St. Nicholas, Midnight Mass, etc) while Section Nine has more prayers appropriate for the season. If you’ve never heard of the Stations of the Infant Jesus, you can find them in Section Ten.
The book closes with daily meditations for the Christmas Season (until the Epiphany) and family meal prayers from Thanksgiving until New Year’s. With the meditations, you can choose from contemporary meditations or the more traditional meditations of St. Alphonsus.
I like that The Essential Advent and Christmas Handbook is a little bit of history, a little bit of how-to, a little bit of prayer and a little bit of devotion/meditation. It makes it a handy little beginner book for enriching your faith life at home. I also really love the fact that it doesn’t stop on Christmas day! It also includes devotions for Christmas – Epiphany. My only wish is that it included information, activities and devotions for all 12 days of Christmas. That would make it heads and tails above everything else I’ve seen on enhancing your Advent journey.
I wrote this review of Essential Advent And Christmas Handbook for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Oplatki and Advent Calendars. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.