This Advent I’ve been using Phyllis Tickle’s The Night Offices: Prayers for the Hours from Sunset to Sunrise. I’ve been doing The Office of Dawn every morning, and the Office of Midnight before I go to bed (which is never as late as midnight). The Office of the Night Watch (between 1:30 and 4:30 a.m.) is beyond me, but Tickle includes a reading from the Church Fathers in that office, which I’ve been making a point of reading every morning.
Here’s today’s, from St. Augustine (On Christian Doctrine): “For a possession which is not diminished by being shared with others — that is, if it is possessed and not shared — is not yet possessed as it ought to be possessed. The Lord says, “Whosoever has, to him shall be given.” He will give, then, to those that have. That is to say, if they use freely and cheerfully what they have received, He will add to and perfect His gifts. The loaves in the miracle were only five and seven in number before the disciples began to divide them among other hungry people. But once they began to distribute them, though the wants of so many thousands were satisfied, they themselves still could fill baskets with the fragments.”
I’ve read this every Monday for four weeks, and I still have to read it more than once every time. It’s not your typical Internet quote to skim over. You might want to print it out to ponder over the next few days, as you think about your own giving this Christmas.