ADVENT: Ideas for your season of preparation

I have decided to reread Benedict XVI’s third volume of Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.  It is shorter than the other two volumes, but there are riches within.

The Holy Father’s book presents a real defense of the historicity of the infancy narratives.

US hardcover HERE.  Kindle HERE. Unabridged audio HERE. Large print HERE.
UK hardcover HERE. Kindle HERE.  Large print HERE.

Also, for Advent, you might try something I read last year.  I think it is not too late to dig into it.  Try the reflections by a priest who died under the Nazi regime, Fr. Alfred Delp, in the book Advent of the Heart: Seasonal Sermons And Prison Writings 1941-1944. Kindle HERE. UKHERE.   Smart.  Moving.  I used some of this in my ADVENTCAzTs last year.

And, in the spirit of the Church Militant, you might think about toughing up your rosary!  A very cool priest had these made, modeled after the US government issued rosaries… yes, you read that right… government issued rosaries given to combat troops.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geoffrey says:

    I can’t believe I didn’t even think about “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives”! I have a coast-to-coast flight coming up, and that would probably make some good reading. Thank you, Father!

  2. TundraMN says:

    I recently purchased the silver finish version of the Combat Rosary. I am usually quite tough on things I carry in my pockets. I have had rosaries fall apart on me due to their jostling around and weak metal links. Combat Rosaries go for $35 USD but they are well worth the cost!! I am guessing that mine will last a long time due to its tough construction. I highly suggest people buy their own and at least one for another person if they can afford it. What a great spiritual weapon to carry!

  3. TimG says:

    I also recently purchased the silver version of the Combat Rosary for our 11 yr old, who tends to break things on a regular basis, and can assure everyone that this is a heavy duty product. (Literally. Not only is it a spiritual weapon but it could also be used for physical defense…I would not want to get whacked with it!)

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    I am perhaps the only person in Madison, WI who doesn’t own a Church Militant Combat Rosary. I just always use my little wood rosary that was laid on the table where St John of the Cross’ body was prepared for burial. The Church Militant rosaries are very striking and very popular. I do know someone who is pretty hard on all his belongings, who broke one or two of them. I think he tangled it in his bicycle wheels. So probably it was good that it broke rather than him crashing and breaking his neck. I am pretty sure Fr Rick gave him a new one free; actually Fr Rick probably gave him the first one free too. Fr Rick is generous for the sake of building up God’s kingdom and if people buy them then that helps him keep being generous.

    I am reading a book on Pope Benedict’s theology that I saw warmly recommended on Catholic Culture. It is a worthwhile and basically very simple look at his teaching on the dialogical structure of revelation, which significantly influenced Dei Verbum and has continued to be central to his theology.

    At the same time I have been reading a little book The Theology of Prayer by Fr John Hardon which is written so simply anyone could understand it and is such a great book that also does a great job conveying prayer as a dialogue. I am finding this emphasis very helpful.

    Also reading Dawn Eden’s My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds With the Help of the Saints. I had tarted reading this a long time back then gave the book away to a friend and just recently was able to trade for the book so I could finish it. Really an excellent book that confessors and spiritual directors really need to know about so they can recommend it to people suffering from and experiencing emotional difficulties because of their past. It is not just for childhood sex abuse victims, but these would particularly benefit. This book is very compassionate, very appropriate in how it handles sensitive matters, and is theologically very good.

  5. Supertradmum says:

    I use to have the empty manger out all Advent and if supertradson did something nice or said extra prayers, he got to put a piece of hay in the crib. The point was to make the manger soft for Baby Jesus, the Italian Bambino, we put in the manger on Christmas Eve.

    The rosary looks great. I am being weird and reading Aquinas and other on the Passion for Advent.

    By the way, do not forget your cat. I cannot believe this….

  6. chantgirl says:

    Up in the middle of the night with contractions, I reached for Fulton Sheen’s “The Eternal Galilean”. The first couple of chapters were a good meditation on the Birth of Christ. It’s pretty accessible for the everyman; I was able to read it through discomfort and not lose my train of thought ;)

  7. KAS says:

    I used a large nativity set when my older kids were young, but there isn’t room where we are right now, so I decided that for the younger children I would do a Jesse Tree. I found a set of 40 Orthodox Jesse tree ornaments on ebay and picked them up as well as a set of ornaments for the O Antophones. I also picked up a two interesting sets of Christmas ornaments too. All as tools for passing on the Faith. I picked up a small tree, put it on a table, and we’ve been reading the book that goes with the Jesse tree ornaments as we add some each day. Marvelous walk through the old testament!

    Christmas eve, after the kids are in bed, I plan to put away all the Jesse tree ornaments and O Antiphone ornaments and put on tiny colored lights, the Christmas ornaments and few others I picked up just because, and then put the gifts under the tree. It will be marvelous I think.

    Thus I build an entire web of Catholic catechesis while making good memories. I want to keep it Catholic and counter the whole hyperfocus on santa and and stuff.

    I’m enjoying reading scripture and story telling the OT tales that go with the ornaments. It has been a good use of money. :)

    Next I need to start piping Advent and Christmas music all over the house.

    My only problem is how to do this when family members are bugging me to join them for the day. Especially since they are not Catholic and so don’t support my efforts. Ah well, conundrums and we just do what we can. :)

  8. happyCatholic says:

    I purchased one silver and one gold Combat rosary as wedding gifts for my daughter and her new husband. I love the indulgenced crucifix on them. I asked the priest who witnessed their vows to bless the rosaries. I am hoping they will be great, usable, lifelong keepsakes from their wedding that will produce spiritual benefits for the rest of their lives. I was thinking the rosaries’ design would especially appeal the male psyche.

  9. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Fr. Z, Thank you for directing our attention to Fr. Alfred Delp!

    I have starting reading St. John Climacus again where I somehow stopped some time ago (harrowing? but who does not need such harrowing…?).

    Looking for things about the Rosary in the Internet Archive, I meet with various handy little ‘things’ by Br. M. Daniel Tibi OCSO, including one entitled ‘Rosarium Latinum’ .

    KAS said, ” I want to keep it Catholic and counter the whole hyperfocus on santa and stuff.” Something enjoyable and not (I think) too “hyperfocus” is Tolkien’s Father Christmas Letters (Father Nicholas Christmas variously tells that he was born in the year of Our Lord’s birth, and named (I suppose, prophetically) after St. Nicholas), with years the letters were sent which can be pleasantly dosed out into daily installments.

  10. Kent Wendler says:

    Advent Lights

    An Alternative to Secular “Christmas Lights”

    By Kent Wendler

    If you are like me you may wish for something more appropriate to the Advent season than the frequently gaudy, sometimes even kitschy decorative lighting that seems to appear every year after the fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving in the U.S.) or even sooner.

    Here is a modest idea, based on the Advent wreath, which evolved over several years. It is inexpensive but requires some assembling. It uses items available in North America, but I cannot address what is available elsewhere. You can probably adapt this idea to your local circumstances.

    You will need a five light electric candolier which uses “C7” bulbs, as in the photograph. These are usually readily obtainable every year when business Christmas promotions start. It will probably come packaged with five festively colored bulbs. Save these for Christmas Eve.

    You will also need to separately purchase five ceramic C7 bulbs: one white, three purple (substituting for liturgical violet), and one pink (substituting for liturgical rose). It is very important that you use ceramic bulbs. These are the ones that appear to glow with a constant color over the entire bulb. Do not use “transparent” or “inside frost” (sometimes called “opaque”) bulbs. These present a visual “bright spot” from the glowing filament, and from a distance the pink is difficult to distinguish from the purple. Painting a bulb usually produces a splotchy and unsatisfactory result. “LED” (‘light emitting diode”) bulbs are very new on the market, are still very expensive and I do not know if they would be suitable.

    Ceramic purple bulbs may be difficult to find at your local businesses, as they appear relatively dim and seem to be an unpopular color. They can be found easily, however, with an internet search for “ceramic purple c7”. They are less expensive if purchased in boxes of 25, so you might want to share an order with friends. The same is true for the ceramic pink bulbs.

    You might also consider substituting pink and blue nightlight bulbs available in some infant supply departments. Blue is a bit removed from violet but this is essentially a private devotion so you have that latitude.

    After you have the bulbs you need, simply insert the three purple and one pink bulb into the candolier, with only the first purple bulb tightened so that it will light. The center light, representing the Christ Child, is vacant. (If safety is a consideration, e.g., small exploring fingers, loosely insert the center white bulb.) Then on the eve of the First Sunday of Advent, display the candolier with the one lit purple bulb so that it is visible from the street. On the Second Sunday eve tighten the second purple bulb so that it lights. On the third (Gaudete Sunday), the pink; and so on. Then on Christmas Eve remove the purple and pink bulbs, replace them with festive lights and insert (or tighten) the center white bulb. This can then be displayed through the rest of the Christmas season along with the rest of the “whole house” decorations you might have.

    It is my hope that this might provide another small way to be “in this world but not of it.”

    Addendum: You can purchase the candolier and ceramic bulbs through Fr. Z’s Amazon link.

  11. MikeM says:

    I read Pope Benedict’s book on the infancy narratives last year and I found it interesting, insightful and helpful. I’ve been looking around for things to read this advent. Someone gave me a copy of Fr. Groeschel’s “Behold, He Comes,” so I’m probably going to give that a try. Fr. Z is also the second recommendation that I’ve seen today of Fr. Delp’s writings, so I might take that as a sign that I should order that.

  12. Priam1184 says:

    I have read the first volume of ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ by Benedict XVI, but haven’t gotten around to the infancy narrative volume yet. However, I was reading the infancy accounts in Matthew and Luke the other day and it occurred to me that Matthew’s Gospel seems to give the infancy accounts from the point of view of St. Joseph while Luke gives the infancy and young adulthood accounts from the point of view of the Blessed Mother. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Does the Pope Emeritus cover this subject in his book?

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