Tuesday 2 March 2021

Oriens A Pilgrimage Through Advent and Christmas 2020 - Father Joel Sember

A Pilgrimage Through Advent and Christmas 2020
ISBN 9781681926599
eISBN 9781681926605
ASIN B08D5863B4 

I greatly enjoyed this book. My one regret is that this is a once and done. It is set up to a specific Advent for a specific year. The print edition is set up with space for journaling. The eBook had pictures of those spaced but not much use. The formatting could have been much better on the eBook. But the contents more than made up for that shortfall. I would have preferred if it was more generic so that it could be reused again. Either next year or the year after. 

I do not even recall how I stumbled across this Advent devotional. But in the book the author states:

“Thank you to the priests and people of the Diocese of Green Bay, in particular published authors Fr. Edward Looney and Julianne Stanz, who inspired and encouraged me to see this project through.”

And I have read, loved and reviewed a few volumes from Fr. Looney. We are told about the author that:

“Fr. Joel Sember was ordained a priest in 2007 for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin. He has extensive experience as a parish priest and served two years in campus ministry. He made a thirty-day Ignatian silent retreat and later completed the Spiritual Direction Training Program through the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska.”

The chapters in the volume are:

Suggested Calendar for the Advent and Christmas Season 
Blessing of an Advent Wreath 

WEEK ONE (November 29–December 5) Lectio Divina 
WEEK TWO (December 6–12) Relational Prayer (ARRR) 
WEEK THREE (December 13–19) Imaginative Prayer 
WEEK FOUR (December 20–26) Announcement of the Birth of Christ 
WEEK FIVE (December 27–January 2) When to Use Each Form of Prayer 
WEEK SIX (January 3–9) Well Begun Is Half Done Blessing of the Home and Household on Epiphany 
WEEK SEVEN (January 10–16) When Does Christmas Really End? 
WEEK EIGHT (January 17–23) A Sparkler Send-Off for Christmas 
WEEK NINE (January 24–30) The Feast of the Presentation 
WEEK TEN (January 31–February 2) The Journey Continues 

Once a Pilgrim, Always a Pilgrim 

Each week has an introduction to the week’s theme, then devotions for each day. The daily devotions follow the following format:

Biblical Passage
Journal Space
Time for Reflection


Questions for Journaling

A sample Sunday is:

January 24 — Sunday 
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Preparation: Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten the eyes of my heart. 

Be present to the God who is always present to you. Call to mind his loving care for you, and spend the first minute of your prayer resting in the unearned gift of loving and being loved. 

Set the Scene: Let us return to the shores of Galilee. We meditated already (January 11) with this passage of Jesus’ calling of his first disciples. But in the past week, you may have noticed Jesus calling you to a deeper conversion. He is inviting you to follow him ever more closely. 

Picture the sea and the fishermen as you read the passage. Use your imagination to set the scene. 

Mark 1:14–20 

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” 

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him. 

Action! The Gospel that Jesus proclaims is exactly what we have been learning about: God created the world and made human beings to be in union with him. Through the envy of the Devil, sin entered the world and divided us from God and from one another. But God prepared a Savior for us, the Word made flesh, who sacrificed himself for our sin. 

Read the passage a second time, using your imagination to see Jesus reaching out to you and inviting you into a relationship with him. He wants you to follow him, to remain with him. 

Acknowledge: The fishermen believe; they follow. How do you feel called? Read the passage a third time. What thoughts, feelings, and desires arise in your heart? 

Relate: Respond to God’s call. If you are struggling with leaving your “boats and the nets,” talk to Jesus about it. 

Receive: What does Jesus want to say to you? What does he want to give you? Can you open your heart to the gift of his friendship? 

Respond: You cannot fulfill the mission on your own, but Jesus and Mary will help you say yes to God’s call. Respond in whatever way you are able at this time. 

Questions For Journaling 
1. Compare this week’s meditation to the one on Monday, January 11. 
2. God has been giving me more … 
3. God is asking me to … 
4. My deepest desire is … 
5. I ended prayer wanting …

Close with a brief conversation, giving thanks to God for your prayer experience. Then pray an Our Father.”

Now some might ask why review a devotional that is a once and done. For a few reasons. First it was very well written and deserves that acknowledgement. Second if someone was willing to spend the time, they could use it on a different year and just shift some readings around as needed. Especially after Christmas. And Third because if Father Joel writes another one it will give you a feel for it.

This book was a blessing to read this year. And I loved that it does the whole season of Christmas. And I will be willing to read another volume from him next Advent, or for Lent if one were to become available. An excellent book!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

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