Advent & Christmas books

Christmas with the Holy Fathers

Last year’s reading goal was 35 books, which I accomplished with five days to spare. “Do one more!” my boyfriend said, a challenge I graciously accepted. I picked up Christmas with the Holy Fathers, which I’d been planning to read during the season anyway. It’s a short book, I thought. I can do that in five days.

This little book is deceiving. I didn’t do it in five days, but not because it’s a difficult read—it didn’t seem right to whip through words inspired by the coming, and birth, of Jesus. These are words to absorb and contemplate.

It contains excerpts of homilies relevant to the season, penned by various popes through Church history. They bring tidings of peace and hope; they reveal something of the world at the time, ranging from the fifth to the twentieth century. Though different wars were fought, and cultures changed, the root of humanity hasn’t changed—and neither has Jesus and the Church’s teachings. In a reflection from 1964, Pope Paul VI spoke of the need for silence in the unceasing noise of modern society. I’d love to hear his thoughts on that today.

The lesson of silence: may there return to us an appreciation of this stupendous and indispensable spiritual condition, deafened as we are by so much tumult, so much noise, so many voices of our chaotic and frenzied modern life.

This makes me wish I’d been part of the Church when Pope John Paul II was around, to hear his words when they were new and bold. It’s given me an appreciation of Pope Leo I, worthy of the name Saint Leo the Great. Now there’s someone I have to read more from.

There’s not enough materials for a “daily reading” format through Advent, but it’s a good one to pick up throughout the season. It also continues through Christmas and Epiphany, so I did end up finishing the book as the season was coming to a close. A worthy book as my first of 2020!