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I’m so pleased to share with you all these Advent Journals. As you may have noticed, Advent is quickly approaching and there are so many wonderful resources available to help deepen and enrich your Advent experience.
For the past few years, I’ve noticed a need for Advent journals that cover a few bases. 1. They are Scripturally based 2. They are simple 3. They are not time consuming but still powerful 4. They are free. I have 2 different journals this year so be sure to read to the bottom to hear about both. One is based on lectio divina, the other is a deeper look at the 4 Sundays of Advent.
Lectio Divina Journal
In the journal I’ve highlighted one or two verses from the daily readings for reflection. There is space to prepare yourself for lectio and think about what’s going on in your life that day. What’s joyful, stressful, exciting or bothering you? Your lectio experience is colored by what’s happening in your life and it is good to take a moment to acknowledge what you are bringing to the table. There is also a place for your Word or phrase that has been highlighted during your reading as well as your prayerful response to God’s movements in your heart. Finally, there is room to think creatively about what God is calling you to do or change as inspired by the day’s prayer.
The journal includes an overview of what lectio divina is, how to pray it and why it’s such a rich experience of prayer. As I said, I have chosen one or two verses for your reflection. However, maybe you already have a habit of reading the daily readings. Maybe a different verse stood out to you. At the very end of the journal is a blank page. It has all the formatting and different writing spaces, but the Scripture portion is blank. You can use this page to write your own verses in.
Remember, this is completely free and is a pdf. So you can print the whole thing if you are going to use the verses I chose. Or you can print that last page 30 times and fill in your own verse every day. Or maybe you’re overwhelmed and already have a daily Advent devotional but want to give lectio divina a try – just print a week and see how it goes. Maybe every Sunday would work better. This is completely customizable to you.
4 Sundays of Advent Journal
This is the brand new journal and I’m so excited about. I was inspired by a few things. First by my long-term writing project on the Philippians 2 Christ hymn. In that project, I am doing a deep study of the hymn, looking at the historical, theological, ecclesial, and liturgical significance and why it is a piece of Scripture that we all should know inside and out. I was also inspired by Every Sacred Sunday and how their Mass journals encourage Catholics to spend quality time preparing for Mass. If you are looking for something long term to help you dig deeper into the Sunday readings all year long, I cannot recommend their journals enough.
My new Advent Journal works like this. The first and super important thing you need to know is that it starts on Nov. 26. Yes, that’s before Advent actually begins. But, if you are going to be preparing for the 4 Sundays of Advent, you’ve got to start before the first Sunday, right?
Ok, got that cleared up. Mondays we spend time with the First Reading. Tuesdays the Psalm. Wednesdays the Second Reading. Thursdays the Gospel. Each page has the reading as well as space for any notes, questions or insights you might have while reading. There is also space for a brief prayer or reflection on what you’ve read. Think of this as lectio divina lite.
Friday’s I offer a theological reflection on the readings. These include any historical information that is relevant, how the readings fit together, and what they can say to us today. It concludes with a quote from a saint that illuminates the overall theme of the Sunday.
Saturday encompasses how we can take what we’ve learned and grow in the week to come. I include another brief reflection, followed by questions or ideas meant to inspire you to apply the readings to your daily life and enhance your Advent experience.
Sunday is a simple page for homily notes or other reflections you have on these readings. Perhaps you have another Advent devotional you are doing side by side and want to write down a special quote or work through a new idea. Here is space to do it, especially in light of the Sunday readings.
I’m so excited for your Advent journey. It would be great to hear from you which journal you chose and why. I love feedback and want to keep developing these into quality, useful tools for you to deepen your relationship with God. Do please share with anyone you think would benefit from these journals.
Today was one of my days to reflect on the Gospel for Catholicmom.com. I hope it encourages your day.
Today’s Gospel: Luke 12:49-53
Looking up today’s Gospel on the USCCB website reveals the title “Jesus: A Cause of Division.” It is challenging to think of Jesus as a divisive figure. It’s easy to imagine Jesus in a field of flowers surrounded by devoted followers, or to envision Him at the Last Supper with His disciples, or as a child helping Joseph in the workshop. We have pictures upon paintings upon statues of Christ in these and other warm situations. But how many of them depict Jesus preaching while followers are walking away? How many depict the crowds trying to stone Jesus, or throw him out of town?
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When two totally random ideas that come together only in my brain like this, it has to be a God-thing. Well, maybe not all the time, all the time. There was that one time I thought marinating pork in red wine was a good idea and yea, that one probably was contrived all on my own (purple pork does not make an appealing plate). But this one is good. I promise.
I have been folding my own clothes since I was probably about 10, plus or minus a year or two. I helped fold laundry in my house until I left home after college and married Ben. The laundry folding saga continues to the present. So, with approximately 20 years of experience folding all manner of clothing, you’d think I’d have it together. But I recently realized I have to rethink something, shirts specifically.
Before diving in, you have to know I fold shirts 3 different ways, depending on who I’m folding for. For myself, I fold the way they do in stores – both sleeves back, sides folded back, then folded in half so you can see what’s on the front of the shirt. When I married Ben I had to learn a completely different way of folding, because he folds his shirts the way he was taught during ROTC, into a small square (it’s complicated, I’m not going to try to explain it). For the kids, I fold the shirt in half hotdog style, then hamburger style.
Why am I crazy, folding shirts 3 ways? I refuse to fold my shirts into small little squares, because like I said, it’s complicated. So there’s 2 ways minimum. I’m not folding the kids clothes in squares, see above. And when they were little their shirts were so tiny it was easier to just do hotdog-hamburger move on (so many shirts!).
Now here’s my problem. The kids are digging and digging through their clothes, looking for specific shirts. Their drawers are so messy, because they unfold a bunch of shirts in search of that perfect one. Why why why!? Because their mother only just realized that when she folds their shirts, she puts the font in the middle of the hotdog, so the only part of the shirt they can see is the back. (insert face-palm emoji and tears of sadness here).
Ok, you’ve endured this far. What on earth does it all have to do with Marian Consecration? Everything of course!
Marian Consecration is the complete and total gift of yourself to Jesus through Mary. One of the more common misconceptions about Marian Consecration is that somehow it’s all about Mary, since it has Marian in the name. Mary is, of course, important, but she is simply the way to the goal, which is Christ. In laundry terms? Mary folds the shirts with the front showing so there isn’t any guessing about getting what we want and where we want to go. She’s so smart that way 😉
What is Marian Consecration, you may ask? Marian Consecration was first brought to the Church by St. Louis de Montfort in the late 1600s. In his book True Devotion, de Montfort lays out a 33-Day Consecration retreat, as well as expanding on his understanding of Mary and Jesus. De Montfort’s basic argument is that Jesus chose to reveal Himself through Mary, and Mary is the one who both knew Him best and worked most perfectly with Him. So, if we wish to know Christ and work with Him, we ought to align ourselves with she who has perfected this path. Mary’s life was set apart, or consecrated, for the holy purpose of bearing Christ to the world. We are called to do the same with our own lives. We make Christ known and we know where to find Christ (i.e. we fold shirts so we and others can see the front).
Some Louis de Montfort Quotes:
“It is through the most Blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus Christ came into the world, and it is also through her that he will reign in the world.”
“If then we are establishing sound devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only in order to establish devotion to our Lord more perfectly, by providing a smooth but certain way of reaching Jesus Christ.”
“Since she is the sure means, the direct and immaculate way to Jesus and the perfect guide to him, it is through her that souls who are to shine forth in sanctity must find him. He who finds Mary finds life, that is, Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life…Mary then must be better known than ever for the deeper understanding and the greater glory of the Blessed Trinity.”
“By this devotion we give to Jesus all we can possibly give him, and in the most perfect manner, that is, through Mary’s hands.”
Marian Consecration is a serious thing, as you may have guessed. This isn’t a part-time thing or a some days but not others. I choose a few years ago to undergo the 33-days and since then I have re-committed myself each year. The way it works is actually pretty simple. 34 days before any Marian feast (The Presentation of Mary, Immaculate Conception, Assumption, etc.) you begin your 33 days. There are 2 main texts that people use to follow. You can use de Montfort’s True Devotion, which I have not used but want to this year (I start my 33 days on Nov. 5, with a consecration day on Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception). The other text is called 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley. This is what I have used up to this point, and it is a great overview of de Montfort’s book, as well as weaving in the theology of John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Maximilian Kolbe – 4 powerhouse Marian saints. I can only say good things about Gaitley’s book, and I’ve only heard good things about de Montfort’s.
If you have more questions about Marian Consecration, I’d love to hear them. If you would like to take the leap this fall, I’d love to journey with you starting on Nov. 5.