The Little Way of Advent — a Book Review

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Looking ahead, Advent begins in less than a month, so now’s a good time to prepare for how you will prepare.

Just in time for this preparation is Fr. Gary Caster’s new book The Little Way of Advent: Meditations in the Spirit of St. Therese of Lisieux.  Fr. Caster, a priest of the Diocese of Peoria and the Catholic chaplain at Williams College in Massachusetts, is also the author of The Little Way of Lent and Mary: In Her Own WordsPersonally, I was already a fan of Fr. Caster’s writing, and in a spirit of full disclosure I should confess that he was my college chaplain, and I eagerly anticipated his latest book.  Yet even with my high expectations he did not disappoint.

I have used several Advent companions over the years, including the special editions of the Magnificat.  Hands down The Little Way of Advent is the best one I’ve used and I strongly recommend it.  Our secular culture and even other Christians are so passionate about celebrating Christmas the minute Thanksgiving dinner is over and ending it at 11:59 pm on December 25th; I think every Catholic trying to live the liturgical seasons can benefit from this guide to Advent.

Much like The Little Way of Lent, Fr. Caster’s newest book includes a meditation for every day of the liturgical season, each beginning with the day’s Mass readings and ending with a quote from St. Therese.  The meditations are all based on the Scripture readings for the day and therefore encourage you to read your Bible so you can make the most out of every reflection.  The quotes from St. Therese encapsulate the theme of each meditation and can be tucked into your memory, to be pondered and prayed throughout the day.

 In Fr. Caster’s introduction he points out that Therese took the religious name “Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face” and his coupling of her spirituality with Advent is a natural fit.  He uses Therese’s insights into the Babe born in a manger and redemptive suffering to bring new depth and fresh insights to the Bible passages that lead us to Christmas Day.

Fr. Caster also uses the meditations to present the Gospel message.  It may seem obvious that the people reading a book on Advent meditations would be familiar with the Gospel, but Fr. Caster presents it again, each chapter building on what we’ve already considered.

As he leads us to Christmas, he beautifully reminds us that God loves us, and that His love for us is vast, passionate, and unconditional.  We are reminded that Christ came to save us and to reunite us with God the Father.  We are shown that a Christian’s life is filled with joy, hope, and peace.

In The Little Way of Advent Fr. Caster writes, “St. Therese knew that her life was of biblical significance… Every town, every human heart, has become a place for the ruler of Israel to be born.  There is a hill country to which each one of us must make haste.”  All of this builds our anticipation for Christmas and encourages us to truly live the season – to prepare for the Coming of Christ.

Features of book that I especially like are:

– There is a different meditation for each Sunday of the three-year cycle of Mass readings.

– Special meditations written for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

– Meditations for all the Christmas Masses, Vigil, Midnight, Dawn, and Day.

– The book takes you not only through Advent but through the Season of Christmas, including Epiphany and the Baptism of Our Lord.

– Each meditation is around five paragraphs in length, making it easy to read through and retain throughout the day.

Fr. Caster’s The Little Way of Advent: Meditations in the Spirit of St. Therese of Lisieux is available in paperback through Servant Press and costs $12.99

“Once the light of God’s love dawns within our hearts, we too must be heralds of the good news the angels announced and custodians of the events the shepherds made known” (from the meditation for “Christmas Mass at Dawn).

Bonnie Engstrom

Bonnie Engstrom

Bonnie Engstrom is a cradle Catholic and stay-at-home mom. She married her dashing husband in 2006 and they now have five children: one in Heaven and four more wandering around their house, probably eating pretzels found under the couch. Bonnie lives in central Illinois and gets excited about baking, music, film adaptations of Jane Austen books, and the Chicago Bears. She was a cofounder of The Behold Conference and she blogs at A Knotted Life.

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