By Barb Arland-Fye
“The Little Blue Book” for the Advent and Christmas seasons has a reserved space in the caddy on the coffee table in my family room.
I’ll strive each night during the 27 days of Advent and 16 days of the Christmas season to read the day’s reflections on the season and short passages from the infancy narrative of Matthew’s Gospel. On Sundays, instead of the Scripture passages, the Little Blue Book will explore how our faith practices at home are linked to the life of the whole Church.
Reading and reflecting on this Advent booklet, based on the writings of the late Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, Mich., has become a tradition for me and for other family members when they are at home. We also appreciate Bishop Untener’s Little Black Book for Lent.
The Little Blue Book’s introduction explains that it “provides the framework to enjoy one of our oldest traditions of prayer called Lectio Divina — sacred reading. We take a short Scripture passage and simply let God speak to us through the words, guiding us to reflections that sometimes come from nowhere.”
Even though The Little Blue Book doesn’t offer a Scripture reflection for the first Sunday of Advent — or any Sunday — I chose to read the passages for that day and practice Lectio Divina. I was drawn to the second reading, from Romans 13:11-14, especially the last line: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” It’s fascinating, and challenging, to explore what that passage is saying to me about the need to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Knowing that many Catholic Christians are especially busy and preoccupied this time of year, The Little Blue Book asks for just six minutes of our time in reflection before our Lord. For starters, we’re asked on the first Sunday of Advent to contemplate and then write down in the booklet how we’ll make the best of the next 27 days. The suggested categories for our activities are spiritual, practical and charitable. So, here’s my plan of action: Read Scripture each morning before work, purchase Fair Trade gifts for relatives and send a separate Christmas check to each of the main charities our family supports. These activities seem doable, especially donating to charities, but I’m hoping I don’t shortchange Scripture reading because I’m running behind schedule in the morning. As long as I read Scripture at some point during the day, I think my spiritual life will be richer for it.
I purchased The Little Blue Book before Mass last weekend in my parish; our Altar & Rosary Society has faithfully provided the Little Books for Advent and Lent for at least several years. If they’re not available through your parish, you can purchase The Little Blue Book by contacting Little Books of the Diocese of Saginaw, Inc., P.O. Box 6009, Saginaw, Mich., 48608-6009 or by calling (989) 797-6606 or by visiting the website at www.littlebooks.org.
Other reflection materials are available during Advent as well; I happen to have found this one works well in my journey of faith.