Books of Holy Waiting, Part 1

waitingAdvent is a time of holy waiting, a kind of patience that we are unused to in our lives. Every year I try to enter into the season with an intentional and prayerful presence.

Now if there has been one thing that has both helped and hampered my Advent practices, it is working at Church! Well, hurt is too strong a word, but I can assure you that a parish office in December is many things, but a place of Holy Waiting is not necessarily one of them!

Yet, I have my morning prayer practice and during Advent I use a booklet to help guide my way. Today I will review two and then I will review two more. I hope that you find these mini-reviews useful.

It just works out that I have four books, two from one publisher and two from another. Today I begin my reviews with two books from Ave Maria Press.

9781594714368.jpg.232xThe first is part of a longtime series that I truly love, the Sacred Space series. These books are from the Irish Jesuits and their Sacred Space website. This small, slim volume, Sacred Space for Advent and the Christmas Season 2013 (96 pp, $1.25) , is easy enough to tuck into a purse or pocket, is divided up into chapters based on each seek of Advent and then a chapter for Christmas week up to Epiphany.

Each chapter begins with some words about coming days, the presence of God, the Word, and other prayerful elements. Each day offers a reflection that concludes with a prompt and/or question.

One of the things that I like about Sacred Space is that each days pattern is the same, the reflections are brief, but they leave plenty of room for spacious contemplation in what might be a shorter time span. Yes, I know that sounds contradictory, but it has worked well for me in the past.

There is a second portion to the book which offers an Advent retreat. I really like this element as well, and it makes the book so much more attractive to me.

My assessment – highly recommended. This book also has an attractive price point and can be bulk ordered for a parish. It also makes a lovely gift!

9781594713835_rev.jpg.232xAlso from Ave Maria Press is, The Living Gospel, Daily Devotions for Advent 2013, by Brendan McGuire (64 pp, $.1.50). This too is a portable prayer resource that will not challenge your wallet.

I have not used this book before, but I love the format. Each day of Advent offers a Begin, Pray, Listen for the day, followed by a reflection. These are short, but meaningful and very nicely done. At the end of the reflection there are invitations to act and pray. This is a great little book that I would recommend. If there is a downside for me, it is that the book ends with Christmas. I wish that it went to Epiphany, or better yet, the Baptism of the Lord, when the Christmas season truly concludes. Overall though, I really liked it.

Both books are small and simple enough for a wide variety of readers, yet are not “dumbed down” in any way. Each offers those of us in a busy and distracted world, one full of noise and impatience, a way to enter the season of Holy Waiting that approaches.  The small investment in either one, or both for that matter, will be worthwhile.

Tomorrow… two more resources for your consideration.