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Elizabeth Foss releases a book for Advent prayer

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Advent may be shorter this year — Dec. 3-24 — but there is a new resource available for people to get the most out of the liturgical season.

Elizabeth Foss, a columnist for the Catholic Herald, has released a new book, Rooted in Hope, just in time for Advent. The book is dated and specific to 2017. It is part of the Take Up & Read ministry, which Foss founded in Spring 2017 to encourage women to read and ponder the word of God. The organization provides an outlet for women to share their faith in community. She has provided an online guide for women who want to gather in groups to pray throughout Advent.

The book begins Nov. 30 on the feast of St. Andrew.

“To me, no matter when Advent begins, it is the feast of St. Andrew, when we begin to pray the prayer that places us beside the manger, when I begin in earnest to prepare my heart for Christmas,” Foss said. “Advent begins very late this year.”

The book’s design encourages lectio divina, a prayer process in four steps — reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation. In Rooted in Hope, each day includes a page for people to approach the day with these questions: What is the meaning of the text? What does the Biblical text say to me? What do I say to the Lord in response to His word? What conversion of mind, heart and life is He asking of me today?

According to Foss, a fifth step, actio, encourages the reader to make an action plan to bring God into every part of the day, through tasks, meals, giving and preparing, keeping home and acts of kindness to yourself.

The book includes hand-lettered pages and hand-drawn art, a daily Scripture passage and additional Scriptures for further reading. A devotional essay and focused lectio divina page follows Scripture and an action page to sketch out a plan to live in God’s grace a day at a time, according to Foss. There also is a weekly planner.

“Our actio page asks a woman to ask herself, ‘What does God want me to do today?’, and then to put pen to paper and make some actual plans,” said Foss.

Additional items are available on takeupandread.org — versions of the journal for younger and older children; a group guide with discussion questions; pages of calligraphy from the book to download and frame; and calendar pages designed especially for Thanksgiving week. The website, Twitter and Instagram pages include discussion of the day’s essay.

Foss said self-care begins with prayer. “This journal gives women a place to keep their prayers and their plans,” she said. “If they do that — pray and plan — they come to Christmas recollected and hopefully rested. Ultimately, we want women to take the peace of Christ from this book.”

Advent is in the midst of one of the busiest seasons of the year. Foss said it is counterintuitive, when we have so much to do, to stop and spend more time in prayer, but it is key to doing what is necessary with a sense of peace.

“Prayer is an investment. When we invest time with Our Lord and we seek His grace, He will not keep Himself from us,” she said. “The time we spend in conversation with Him is time we offer to Him, knowing that He can and will work miracles with it.” 

Find out more

Go to takeupandread.org, Instagram @takeupandread or Twitter @totakeupandread.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017