Fr. Cedric Pisegna, a Passionist priest, posted the following prayer on Facebook recently. In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and perhaps as you live through the illness or death of loved ones, you might find the words helpful.
“Dear Lord, sometimes I feel like I am imprisoned by my fears. I fear the future, I fear the unknown, I fear failure, I fear embarrassment, I fear suffering, I fear loss, I fear death. Such fears have kept me from moving forward in many areas of my life. I pray that you can forgive me for this lack of faith. I know in my heart that no fear is greater than your love for me. I long for the inner peace and serenity of being free from my unnecessary anxiety about so many things. Teach me that even when I am fearful, I can still move forward. Let me have the courage to face my fears. Help me to live the life that you want for me, a life of peace.”
During Advent we focus on Mary, remembering how she waited nine months for her baby, the Son of God to appear. At the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel had to say to her, “Do not be afraid!” She had cause to be afraid that day—and many times in her life. Afraid when Joseph learned she was pregnant and considered divorcing her, afraid when she had to bear a child in a strange town, afraid when Herod sent soldiers to kill her Son, afraid when preteen Jesus was missing in Jerusalem, afraid when Joseph died, afraid when a mob of neighbors tried to throw her Son off a cliff, and afraid when Jesus was arrested by the Romans. Our Blessed Mother is as human as we are.
Yes, Mary knew fear. For that reason, and because she is our loving Mother who cares about us, she makes a good companion as we make our way through rough spots in life. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.”
BOOK REVIEW: The Gift Counselor, by Sheila M. Cronin
Self-published, $13.95, 324 pp.
The Gift Counselor is a good, gentle book to curl up with as we await Christmas, when we celebrate God’s perfect gift. The heroine, Jonquil, is a young widow with a precocious son who dreams of owning a dog, something she is adamant against. As a graduate student, she is completing a research project on children in a Children’s Home where she works. After she is suddenly let go, she secures a new job at a department store selling perfume. There she begins “counseling” people to find the right gift—even if it isn’t perfume. She conceives the idea of setting up a counseling department in the store for gift-givers. This service is a success, especially at Christmas, and provides a new topic for research.
Reading about Jonquil’s interactions with customers, the reader considers the reasons people give gifts, for example, to impress someone, because a favor is needed, or to repay someone who gave a gift. Of course, what makes the best gift also appears in the book.
Romance runs through The Gift Counselor as Jonquil learns more about a French painter who befriends her son. Mystery is also an element because the reader wonders how Jonquil’s husband died and why she is so averse to dogs. An ambitious and jealous woman who intends to be president of the store serves as the villain.
Everything comes to a sweet conclusion.