Lives of the Saints Christmas GiftYikes! Christmas is seven weeks away! I was abruptly reminded that the holidays are on their way as my family and I made our very first Advent Wreath with other families at our parish over the weekend. We have a few weeks until Advent begins, but we all know how fast that time flies this time of year.

I recently came across what I thought would be a great Christmas gift for any Catholic this year. The saints were, and still are, one of the most intriguing aspects of Catholicism for me as I was drawn to the Church. I love how the saints are sinful humans, just like us, who overcame their sinfulness to live a life of holiness. If they did it, we can do it!

To learn more about the saints, I would search for books that delved more deeply in the life of a particular saint that caught my attention at mass, RCIA or in another of my studies. I also made use of the saint of day feature on my favorite free Catholic app Laudate. But that feature and most of the other online resources I found about the saints were fairly academic, full of dates and fairly difficult to relate to. It was a bit like reading a history book ;-).

I could handle that, but I wanted my kids to know the amazing lives led by the saints, as well, so I found a few books geared toward kids at the local Catholic book store. However, those felt pretty stodgy to me too — not something kids could relate to, at least not in the year 2014 :).

Recently, I requested a review copy of Lessons from the Lives of the Saints: Daily Reflections for Growth in Holiness by Father Joseph Esper (Basilica Press, $12.95) to see if perhaps it offered a more relatable perspective for Catholic newbies — and kids. It does!

The book is set up as a series of daily readings and focuses on the saint whose feast day is celebrated on that date. Fr. Esper’s look at the saint is a much more personal and readable description of the lives of these saints and their key virtues. He also offers some helpful information, as appropriate, about the Church’s teachings as they relate to these saints, such as explaining purgatory on All Souls Day.

At the end of each saint description, he offers lessons to learn from these saints — a wonderful thing to share with children. For example, for St. Teresa of Avila, he writes that having a lively personality isn’t an impediment to holiness, and for St. Therese of Lisieux, he offers that we don’t have to do great things to glorify God, but rather can do so through living our daily routine faithfully and lovingly.

These are quick reads that you can complete each morning before beginning your day, at lunch or before you drift off to sleep. Keep these virtues in mind and see if you can imitate that saint’s virtue even if for one day. I highly recommend reading it as a family each evening and discussing what we could do in our own lives to live more like these saints in heaven.

Do you have a favorite saint? Please share and tell us why!

Note: This book was provided to me at no cost in exchange for an honest review.