THE LITTLE WAY OF ADVENT
Meditations in the Spirit of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
By Father Gary Caster
145 pages, $11.04
Servant Books, 2012
To order: FranciscanMedia.org or (800) 488-0488
Walk with St. Thérèse of Lisieux this Advent by reading The Little Way of Advent.
There’s much of a connection in this book to the full name of Thérèse: Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face.
During a general audience in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of this connection, saying that Christmas 1886 was a turning point for the 13-year-old Thérèse, marking what she called her "complete conversion" from childish moody sensitivities. She called it her Christmas miracle.
When Thérèse was 14, noted the Holy Father, she became closer and closer to the crucified Jesus. Seeing her father suffer illness also led her to contemplate the face of Jesus in his passion.
"Thus, her name as a religious — Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face — expresses the program of her whole life in communion with the central mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption," explained Benedict.
This truth is found in Father Caster’s meditations: "She knew that the attractiveness of the child is meant to draw us into the mystery of redemptive suffering. She knew that Christmas and the cross are inseparable moments. Throughout her life she would learn to recognize in the light shining from the Child Jesus how to cherish what’s essential by embracing what is difficult."
Similar advice is shared in all the meditations — one for each day of Advent, plus many bonus days, including all three cycles (A, B and C) for Sundays. All of the Christmas Masses, the Octave of Christmas and every day through Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord are included as well.
Father Caster has a real talent for weaving each meditation together with the readings for the day and making connections to daily life.
He also makes the relationship between the incarnation of Jesus and his redemption and resurrection alive in the footsteps of St. Thérèse and the Scriptures: "Like those questioning John in today’s Gospel, St. Thérèse of Lisieux asked the Lord, ‘What must I do?’ In the words of St. Paul, she found the answer to her question: ‘the way which surpasses all the others … love’ (1 Corinthians 13:1). She realized that her vocation was to be ‘love in the heart of the Church.’ From that moment on she had no anxiety whatsoever."
Each day’s meditation ends with a quote from the Little Flower, such as: "My vocation — at last I have found it. My vocation is love!"
Sometimes it is difficult to grasp the relationship between the meditation and the quote, but, throughout, hope and God’s love permeate.
At the same audience, Benedict also said of the Little Flower: "The saint wrote these simple words: ‘I cannot fear a God who made himself so small for me! … I love him!" This theme is repeated over and over in Thérèse’s Advent way.
Joseph Pronechen is the
Register’s staff writer.