Regnum Christi

Advent Prep Reading List: Part 1

advent purple robes
advent purple robes

It’s getting busy around here at the church where I work. There’s a buzz in the air as a new liturgical year approaches; we’re preparing to put away the green cloths and robes for a while, and pull out the purple for Advent.

At home, however, I haven’t had much time to think about Advent coming up. Besides my job as sacrament prep coordinator at the church, where I’ve been busy preparing 90 kids and their families to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation in just a couple of weeks, I also teach at one of our local universities, and outrageously agreed to not only teach two new classes, but also to somehow teach them both within a six-week time frame at the end of the semester. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind just keeping up.

And my house is bearing witness to the overwhelming busyness of my life right now. The kitchen is in a perpetual state of chaos and the laundry chute is so full that there’s not even room for a single sock to be jammed inside (that’s two full stories of laundry waiting to be washed). With an extremely efficient husband and four children old enough to be of help, you’d think we’d be able to manage, but only the former is pulling his weight. The house remains a mess.

And I hate going into Christmas with a messy house. I’ve got no desire to set up a tree amidst the clutter in the living room (and I’d have to clear a path in the mud room in order to access the Christmas decorations first, anyways), and the thought of bringing new gifts into the house to add to the stuff that’s already not put away makes me cringe. Something must be done.

Advent is a good time to bring order to the chaos, and this year, the chaos is my house. These four weeks before Christmas are a space-making time, making space for Christ in our lives (and our home!) just as our Blessed Mother made space in her self for God to dwell within her. In the utter busyness of the semester, I hope to find time to pause, to breathe, to make some room for more time for Christ, and more room in my schedule and in my house to relax and be present with my family.

If making more ordered space in your life this Advent looks a bit like mine (cleaning up the mess), here are three books I’ve read, am reading, or plan to read about bringing about order in the home:

How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing, by KC Davis.

This is definitely a secular book, but lots of the themes speak to me as a busy Catholic who has recently dealt with mental health issues that have made taking care of myself and my space challenging. Davis’ approach to keeping house is one of mercy, recognizing, first of all, the innate dignity of every human, even the messy ones. “Humans are born with the birthright of worthiness, but you know what? They are also messy, fallible, imperfect creatures who cannot and will not every get everything right all the time. And this messy, fallible imperfection never detracts from our inherent worthiness.” The author also basically paraphrases Mark 2:27 when she promotes the importance of taking Sunday off: “You deserve a beautiful Sunday,” Davis says, “This is the life-changing result of internalizing that you do not exist to serve your space, your space exists to serve you.”

The Little Way of Living with Less: Learning to Let Go with the Little Flower, by Laraine Bennett.

This is a lovely book by Laraine Bennett, co-author of The Temperament God Gave You series. Each chapter is dedicated to a different “Rose”: in the first chapter, Bennett tells the story of selling everything their family owned and moving across the Atlantic to Germany, where they suddenly had to learn to live with less space, and less stuff, and how, in doing so, also learned to cultivate the “Rose of Detachment.” Each chapter is seen through the lens of St. Thérèse of Lisieux’ Little Way, beginning with a relevant quote from the saint (“The world’s thy ship and not thy home.”) and ending with reflection questions to help you cultivate each “Rose.” For example, the Rose of Humility invites us to ask how we might incorporate into our homes the humility of St. Thérèse; do we focus a bit too much on making things “perfect” before we invite people over, or could we focus more on creating a place where, as Thérèse says, “peace, poverty, and joy reign supreme”?

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown

This is the book sitting on my bedside table right now, silently judging me for watching Netflix at the end of the night instead of reading. But it promises to offer advice on how to prioritise the right things, especially when we feel like we’re doing all the things (hello, it’s me), and declutter and organize our lives by reclaiming control of our time. But of course, I haven’t had time to read it yet….

 

 

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Alex Kucera

Atlanta

Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!