In the chaos of everyday life, there is nothing we need more than just a little peace. This is exactly what is offered to us in Diane Houdek’s new book, The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Frances. These reflections begin as Advent begins and runs past Christmas day, ending with the celebration of Epiphany. It is easy to read and doesn’t necessarily need daily devotion, but can be picked up to read a reflection or two when you would like to ponder upon the season of Christmas and it’s true meaning.
Each reflection begins with a quote from Pope Francis, and expands upon his idea applying or contrasting it into our everyday lives. The best part is the “present” found at the end of each reflection, “Your Christmas Gift Today.” This encourages us to apply the lesson by given to us with ideas to add to our Christmas preparations and celebrations.
A wonderful example of the beautiful reflections from Pope Francis on the lights of Christmas. Can you imagine a Christmas without lights? Even in the middle of November, the families in my neighborhood will begin putting up and TURNING ON their Christmas lights. Pope Francis tells us,
If you have something dark in your soul, ask the Lord for forgiveness. Christmas is a great opportunity to cleanse the soul! Do not fear, the priest is merciful, forgiving all in the name of God, because God forgives everything. May there be light in your hearts, in your families, in your cities. And now, with this wish, let us turn on the light.
Houdek then continues the reflection writing about how stringing the lights and turning them on brings out the “little bit of magic” in all of us (even if it is weeks before Thanksgiving). Throughout the centuries, light has been used as a metaphor for holiness, joy and peace. She also explains how light can affect our sleeping, waking and mood disorders such as seasonal affective disorder. I know I am not as happy after weeks of short, cloudy days, as I am when the sun comes out. “But mostly, ” she writes, “we’re putting a name to what we already know instinctively: Light makes us happy.”
The gift that Houdek gives us for this reflection is to have a lighting ceremony of our Christmas trees and a blessing to say as we gather together. This isn’t something that we have ever done. My husband will bring up the tree, I put up the lights, my kids will help hang the bulbs, then the Christmas tree is just on for the season. It would be wonderful for this year to actually hold a “lighting ceremony” and celebrate the light of Christ pouring down upon us.
Find Your Peace
This book is a wonderful addition to reflect upon the true meaning of the season and quieting our hearts and minds from the everyday rush to get everything done before Christmas comes and goes, along with our family and friends. The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Frances by Diane Houdek will bring new meaning to the entire Advent and Season of Christmas and will provide our families with a new peace we can only find by seeking the Christ Child in the manger.
September 28, 2017
The Peace of Christmas offers an opportunity to reflect with Pope Francis on the many moods and challenges of one of the central realities of our faith: Our God became one of us, came to dwell in our midst, and began life as we all do, as a tiny baby, needy and vulnerable and dependent on the people around him for his very survival.
Through the pope’s insights and reflections, you will be comforted and challenged, enlightened and reassured. He knows that Christmas is many things to many people, often changing with the times and circumstances, with your experiences in the months since last Christmas. Just as God chose to become one of us, so our lives are shaped and changed by the world around us.
While the book is divided into daily reflections, it’s more a book for browsing than marching through day by day. Keep it someplace handy, pick it up when you have a few minutes of quiet. Turn to its pages when you feel frustrated with the hectic pace of preparations or when you feel suddenly struck by the wonder and beauty of this season. Let the words of Scripture and the words of Pope Francis move you to a new appreciation of the incarnation.