As you read this you probably either A) have not dived into your Thanksgiving feast or B) just finished. You’re probably also going to say….really Pete…..an article on Advent already? Well I’m here to say yes. Sorry. One of the advantages of being a reviewer is that I get access to books early and in turn get the blessing of letting you know about them in a timely manner. That’s why today I want to introduce you to Rejoice: Advent Meditations with Mary by Father Mark Toups.
This book is actually a journal and it leads you through the four weeks of Advent. The key focus of this particular journal is to provide you with a companion on the journey and that companion would be Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Mary knows exactly what it is like to wait in anticipation for the birth of the savior of the world and she makes the perfect companion for this journey.
The journal can be used as an entire parish, as a small group study or even on an individual basis. Do not have any reservations in using this journal solo. I went through the journal on my own and must say I gained much fruit from the experience. Along with the journal there are accompanying videos for each week’s activities.
Each daily entry includes a reflection based upon scripture. This is followed by a prompt “For Your Prayer”. THIS is where the real depth of this journal lies. The reader is given a Psalm and scripture passage to reflect upon using imaginative prayer. After preparing for reflection by reading the text you are prompted to follow the A.R.R.R. method which stands for Acknowledge, Relate, Receive, Respond. This 4-point method of prayer leads one into a deeper understanding of scripture and ultimately opens one up to a personal relationship with Christ.
How do we arrive at this however? As Father Mark explains there are five key W’s for formulating your prayer habit. Those are:
- When will I spend time with Jesus?
- Where will I spend time with Jesus?
- What are Jesus and I going to do together?
- Who will hold me accountable to my time with Jesus?
- Why am I prioritizing my time with Jesus?
Once we answer those five questions we are well on our way to having an enriching and successful prayer life. I encourage you to formulate that plan starting today. Do it while you are sitting on your recliner recovering from your Thanksgiving indulgences. Don’t wait to make this a New Year’s resolution that you don’t follow through on come March. Start now…in Advent. Create the space in your home and in your day to walk with Mary this Advent and cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He’s waiting….all you need to do is to commit.