It’s hard to believe but Advent is right around the corner. Are you searching for a meaningful Advent practice to bring more faith and spiritual growth into this busiest of seasons? O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath  (Ave Maria Press, 2012) may be just what you are looking for.
Lisa Hendey, founder of CatholicMom.com  and best-selling writer of The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms, offers a series of twenty-eight short reflections, one for each day of Advent. The title of the booklet comes from one of the “O Antiphons” of Advent: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, son of justice; come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” It is a reminder to reflect on the glory of God’s majesty, a majesty we often miss when we are preoccupied with ever-growing to-do lists.
She has designed the prayers to be used around the Advent wreath. As she writes, “The wreath’s simple circle of evergreens represents the never-ending promise of eternal life. Upon the wreath or in its middle we arrange four candles – three purple and one rose. The purple candles mark the solemn tone of the season and call us to wait patiently, eyes set on Christ. The rose candle marks our great joy as Christmas approaches.” While an Advent wreath is a beautiful symbol (with small children, my family uses a paper version), the prayers contained within this book can certainly be used without one.
The prayers and reflections can be used by individuals or by families. Each day offers a short gathering prayer, a relevant Scripture passage, a reflection and closing prayer. An added bonus is that Hendey offers a separate reflection for those with younger children. For those able and wishing to spend more than five minutes, the questions for reflection can offer much to ponder and perhaps journal about.
O Radiant Dawn is truly a great gift in a small package. It would be a perfect devotional to make available in large numbers to parish communities. Those who use it will find their Advent season to be greatly enhanced, with the emphasis placed first where it rightly belongs – on the coming of Christ.