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With the canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta fresh on our mind, I’m certain there’s quite a few of you who would love to spend Advent with the beloved “Mother Teresa.”
If you aren’t familiar with St. Teresa of Calcutta, here’s a little something to get you acquainted with this newly canonized saint. St. Teresa spent her life seeking “to quench the infinite thirst of Jesus on the cross for love and souls” by “labouring at the salvation and sanctification of the poorest of the poor.” Ironic that a simple sentence could summarize the life of one woman whose life touched and influenced people from all over the world and from all walks of life. She’d like to walk with you through Advent, encouraging you to empty that which is cluttering your heart, dust it, and make room for the babe at the manger.
Also – if you’re reading this, you’re an Advent procrastinator and are looking for a good book for Advent.
Not just for Advent 2016
The first thing you’ll notice in this book is that it was written to be useful as an aid to Advent for many years to come. Heidi Hess Saxton has thoughtfully provided the readings for all three cycles of the Liturgical year and, as a bonus, has also provided thoughtful reflections for special feasts and commemorations of the Advent and Christmas seasons. For example, you’ll find, if you turn to the back of the book, a reflection for St. Nicholas Day and also the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, to name but two.
The spirit of the book is beautiful, too. Following in the footsteps of St. Teresa, the author wishes to help you ponder, over the course of Advent and Christmas “how you might love more deeply, surrender more completely, and let go of the things you do not need, so there is more room to receive from the Lord all he wishes for you to have” (ix). Bishop Robert Barron, in his introduction to the book, praises it for accomplishing just that.
For my own purposes, though, the book fell short. I desperately wanted to love this book and looked forward to spending my own Advent and Christmas with it. However, I found many of the reflections disjointed and I couldn’t always make the connection between the daily reading and St. Teresa.
A moment to reflect
At the end of each day’s reflection, the author provides a “A Moment to Reflect.” These were always 2 short questions meant to be considered over prayer and offered real ways to look at the reader’s own life and to encourage them to surrender more completely. All of these were fantastic and were remarkably insightful.
The reader might be surprised, too, to find out that this book contains more than just refections for the Advent season. The book actually contains reflections that will take you all the way through Epiphany, and then provides another reflection for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In that way, this little book really is quite a gem.
I recommend this book with reservations. It’s true, the book is “not for me,” but I’m always amazed at the many facets of the Catholic church and all of the “spiritual types” that are in her midst. Spiritual reflections are so personal, and God often has a way of reaching us in those places and times we least expect it. If you are familiar with Heidi Hess Saxton and enjoyed some of her other books, then you should ignore me and spend your Advent with St. Teresa of Calcutta with the help of this book.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hope that I would provide a (favorable) review. Complimentary books are not necessarily good books, though. My opinions are my own.