Wednesday, November 19, 2008



When you think of Christmas reading you may think of, “The Night Before Christmas,” or some other fictional yarn, perhaps one concerning the plight of an unpopular antlered fauna who finds shame and then glory in his luminous nasal passages. Rarely does someone look forward to digging out the writings of popes to read once more under the glow of the lights of the Christmas tree. For much of Christmas we just want to be entertained. But we have a certain obligation to spend some time in reflection and prayer about this holy season. As John Paul II said, “The lights on the streets remind us of one aspect of this Feast, the most external, which although not negative in itself, nevertheless risks turning us away from the true spirit of Christmas.”

Well, thanks to the my friends at Paraclete Press who occasionally sends books to Adam’s Ale to review for you, this year you can add to your reading list that depth of meaning to this season by sharing time with the Holy Fathers in, “Christmas with the Holy Fathers” Compiled by Peter Celano and Thomas Howard. Now, if this at first does not sound appealing to you hold on! I was not too thrilled at first either. When they offered to send the book I mistakenly thought it was going to be writings of the Early Church Fathers. When it arrived in the mail I saw the picture of Pope Benedict on the cover and thought, “Oh, those fathers. Shucks.” Now, I love reading what the popes put out but usually find it work. John Paul II was a labor of love for me. I knew anything he wrote would benefit me to no end and was always glad that I read him. But I had to prepare myself for the task. There must be quiet, coffee, and plenty of time to sit and think, “Okay, what did I just read?”

Fortunately this book is compiled in such a way as to make digesting the words of the popes easy while preserving that which is thought provoking. We are given little snippets that are rarely longer than a page in length. But the flavor packed morsels are worth chewing on for awhile like this one from Pope Pius X in 1904:

“Therefore all we who are united to Christ, and as the Apostle says we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, (see Ephesians 5:30), have issued from the womb of Mary like a body united to its head. Hence, though in a spiritual and mystical fashion, we are all children of Mary, and she is the Mother of us all. Mother, spiritually indeed, but truly Mother of the members of Christ, who are we.”

Also for those who are historians it is interesting to make note of the years from which each of the passages were chosen. World and Church events call forth the facet of Christ’s message most pertinent to the day and it is interesting to call each epoch to mind as you read the particular passage.

It is short book, about 120 pages and will provide you some focus as we enter into advent when most of the world is celebrating Christmas, and will stay with you during Christmas when the rest of the world is already gearing up for Valentine’s Day.

For more information on this book, look here for the Paraclete Press site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I once went so far as to read the Summa. Until then, I could make both heads or tales (not both) of what the Popes wrote, but even that was only with sustained sweat (and a vat of quiet, followed by a tub of coffee). After hitting page 5 (again) in about 3 years, I finally gave the lovely little thing away to someone with a brain. It was like trying to read Cleveland Amory. I guess I basically understand only Jesuits and Franciscans, so I don't think I'll push my luck with this book, but maybe you could muse upon and reflect here on some more pages that you really liked, or that you think would benefit us in this season.

I must say you're the first person to mention Pius X to me without getting my hackles up. I'm thankful; I don't like not liking Popes.