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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Joy To The World

It is time for a FIRST Wild CardTour book review!

If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is
called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek
into the book!


You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's
Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Liguori Publications (July 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Rebecca Molen of Liguori Publications for
sending me a review copy.***



CAFE LILY'S REVIEW:
In an attempt to help families reclaim Advent, author Kathleen Basi shares activities that families can use to reorder their priorities during the busy holiday season.  Readers need to be aware that this book is written from a Catholic perspective and many of the rituals and readings are based on the Catholic faith.

The author writes about things like penitence, lent, the Lectionary, various saints and the traditions of the Catholic church.  If you are not Catholic, this probably will not be the book for you.  As one example, on page 39, the author writes about Our Lady Of Guadalupe and
suggests that families can “create an altar” in their home to celebrate the important saints day tradition on December 12th.  She also suggests “visiting a shrine” as part of the spiritual growth
process.  Readers like myself who do not agree with these practices will probably need to look elsewhere for a book that more closely supports their beliefs.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Kathleen Basi is a stay-at-home mom, freelance writer, flute and
voice teacher, composer, choir director, natural family planning
teacher, scrapbooker, sometime-chef and budding disability rights
activist. She puts her juggling skills on display on her website (see
below).


Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $5.99
Paperback: 80
pages
Publisher: Liguori Publications (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764819372
ISBN-13:
978-0764819377

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Introduction

Reclaiming
Advent

Call it December madness: On the
day after Thanksgiving 2008, a seasonal worker was trampled to death
by shoppers swarming a department store at opening time. In
mid-America, two women got into a fist fight over a toy, and the store
personnel had to pull them off each other.

At this time
of year, it’s hardly possible to escape feeling rushed, harried, and
overwhelmed. It seems like every year the Christmas decorations at the
mall go up a little earlier, and all the news reports dwell on how
much money retailers are (or aren’t) going to make. The ad inserts get
fatter and the TV shouts: “No need to wait! Zero down! No interest for
thirteen months! Hurry, hurry, hurry!”

Just about
everyone gripes about it, but no one seems to know what to do about
it. Some families throw out the whole secular celebration in an
attempt to prevent materialism from overwhelming both Advent and
Christmas. But most families feel—rightly so—that they shouldn’t have
to choose one over the other. It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful
time of the year,” but often families feel stressed as the calendar
fills up with recitals, shopping, parties, and housecleaning. In this
atmosphere filled with distractions, the idea of Advent as a season in
its own right has been overwhelmed. How can we wait for Christmas when
we never have to wait for anything else?

Christmas is not
about children, gifts, cookies, or trees. It’s about a love so
powerful that God came to earth to dwell among us: human and divine
intertwining—a holy union of wills that reaches its apex not in birth,
but in crucifixion and resurrection. In salvation.

And we
spend December fighting over Blu-ray discs and toys?

It’s
time to reclaim Advent—that season of holy hush, of waiting, of light
and anticipation—that season that helps make Christmas so special. We
can’t withdraw from the world, but we can take the trappings of the
season and infuse them with a deeper meaning. Joy to the World: Advent
Activities for Your Family outlines a way to reconcile the secular
with the sacred—to celebrate them side-by-side, to mold them into a
single, month-long “liturgy,” and in so doing, to enrich both
celebrations.

Chapter 1 presents a brief overview of
Advent and why it is important. Chapter 2 introduces the three parts
of the Advent Reclamation Project, which are explained more fully in
Chapters 3 through 5. Chapter 6 offers suggestions for other
traditions that families or parish communities might choose to adopt
as their own, and in the appendices, you will find resources to flesh
out the earlier chapters.

Early childhood is the ideal
time to start developing family traditions, so this book is aimed at
young families. Each chapter contains a short italicized section to be
read directly to children, explaining some part of the celebration. As
your family grows, you can adapt the traditions to fit your own
circumstances. Many of the ideas will also translate to the classroom.
Remember that Advent, like Sabbath, was not created for God’s sake,
but for ours (see Mark 2:27). God doesn’t need it. We do.

Chapter

1

The Case
For Advent

Advent holds a unique place in the Christian calendar. For
Catholics, it is the beginning of the liturgical year. It is a season
in which the church is decked out in purple—a sign of penitence—yet
the Scriptures also speak of joy, hope, and light.

The
word “Advent” comes from a Latin word meaning arrival or coming. In
the earliest days of the Church, all of life focused on the passion,
death, and resurrection of Christ. After all, the Apostles expected
the Second Coming during their lifetimes.

At this time,
the ancient pagan cultures structured their seasonal celebrations on
nature. The celebration of the winter solstice was the biggest
festival of the year in ancient times. It centered upon the shortest
day of the year—the day when the “unconquered” sun began slowly to
take back the days. Gift-giving, feasting, lights, and greenery all
originated in these pagan celebrations. As Christianity expanded into
these lands, the Church adopted many of these traditions, infusing
them with Christian meaning in order to ease the transition for its
new members. Thus, sometime in the fourth century ad, Christmas—and
Advent—made their appearances.

Originally, Advent was a
forty-day period of fasting and penitence—a parallel to Lent. In the
early centuries, the Church focused on preparing for the Second
Coming. Not until the middle ages did Advent begin to point toward the
birth of Christ. Over the centuries, many traditions cropped up
surrounding the season. The Advent wreath grew out of a Pagan
tradition of lighting candles to signify the hope of spring. The Jesse
tree probably originated in Northern Europe, where lineage and
genealogy determined one’s place in society. The Jesse tree taught the
faithful about Jesus’ royal lineage. Over time, these customs (and the
meanings associated with them) have evolved. Some grew more important,
others less so.

Nowadays, the secular culture and many
Protestant denominations make no distinction between Advent and
Christmas. The Sundays of December are filled with the story of the
Christ Child, and the Christmas celebration is over and done around
New Year’s. But in Catholic tradition, the season of Advent focuses on
the two “comings” of Christ—the Incarnation, when God came to Earth as
human child, and the glorious Second Coming at the end of time. In
fact, the readings for the first two weeks of Advent speak of John the
Baptist “preparing the way” for Jesus, the grown man who turned the
world upside down. Only in the later part of Advent does our focus
zero in on Bethlehem.

This duality is something we
experience even with our senses. Catholic churches are hung with
violet for these four weeks—the color traditionally associated with
penitence. But the purple we use at this time of year is different
from the purple of Lent; it is meant to be a richer, royal purple,
reminding us also that Christ is King.

Advent gives us a
chance to meditate on:

Hope—for deliverance;

Expectation—for the coming of one who will bring justice to an
unjust world;

Preparation—so that we may prepare our hearts
to receive Christ, who is

Light—the light of the world.


These are beautiful themes. Why should Advent be
shoved into a corner, nothing more than four weeks of filler before
Christmas? Advent can be a magical time, if we approach it the right
way.

Advent does not need to become a “second Lent,” but
the violet hangings and vestments remind us that penitence remains an
important part of the season. Advent gives us the chance to examine
our hearts and “defrag” our scattered souls. To reorder our thinking
and our priorities. To point our lives, for four weeks, toward
Christmas, so that when we reach the holiday, it has meaning and
beauty that is distinct from the four preceding weeks.


Nor is Christmas the end of the journey. Without Holy Week and the
resurrection, the manger in Bethlehem would be unremarkable: just one
more baby born in poverty. For Christians, the destination is Easter.
Glorious as it is, Christmas is a stop along the way.

For
the children:

Even though all the advertisements on TV are
about Christmas, right now we are actually in the season of Advent.
During Advent, our job is to get ready for Jesus to come and live in
our hearts. At Christmas, we will celebrate Jesus being born as a
baby—but he has promised us that he will come back again someday, and
we need to be ready. One way we do this is by remembering our sins and
trying to do better. This is called penitence, and it is why the
church is decorated in purple. But Advent is also about looking
forward to Jesus coming. We are excited because Jesus is the light of
the world, and when he comes, he will make the world fair for
everyone.


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