Fill Us With Joy: A Review of ‘The Most Beautiful Christmas Story’

 “And in the end, everything else will turn out to be unimportant and inessential; except for this: Father, Child, and Love.” – Pope Saint John Paul II

Interest Level

3 years+

Review and Comments

The Most Beautiful Christmas Story is a wonderful book for young children about Jesus’ birth beginning with the Annunciation and ending with the Holy Family in Nazareth after their time in Egypt.  I was struck by two things while reading this book.  First, the large illustrations, each covering two pages, are filled with wonderful details that truly enhance the story. The second thing that stands out for me is the words and phrases interwoven throughout the story that express the miracle of Christmas.   The first sentence proclaims beautifully that “God sent the Angel Gabriel…”  What a wonderful way to introduce the story of God’s amazing plan.  Then, Mary waits for the Savior with hope,  St. Joseph tenderly whispers to Jesus that their hearts are full of love, the shepherds are filled with peace and joy, the Wise Men feel the light of the star as a sign, and when the Holy Family travels to Egypt, Mary declares that God is with us.  All of these expressions of God’s beautiful love truly convey the Christmas message.

Because the story includes the Flight into Egypt, I was interested to see how the massacre of the innocents would be handled – not an easy task when telling the story to young children.  I feel this book does a good job.  It describes the danger the Holy Family faces when a jealous Herod commands that Jesus be killed. The text reads, “Kill that baby, and any others that might be him!” The story does not go into further detail.

The book concludes with the words of Mary. “Jesus, you fill us with joy and you show us that happiness means having a heart full of love.”  That’s the message of Christmas we certainly want our children to remember.

Be sure to check out Christian Book Fair to get some of these great books!

Possible Concerns

There are no concerns with this book.

Further Discussion

Map skills:

  • Make a simple map and label Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Egypt.
  • The distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem is 80 miles (about 120 kilometers).
  • The distance between Bethlehem and Egypt is about 690 kilometers (about 429 miles).

Vocabulary:

  • Art – Choose a “Christmas word” from the story and illustrate what it means in the Christmas story. (examples: hope, love, peace and joy, sign, God is with us)
  • Writing – Write about one of the Christmas words and explain how it conveys God’s Christmas message.
  • Examine Christmas card verses and find the words or phrases used in the story.

Art:

  • Design a Christmas card that tells the story of Jesus’ birth.
  • Design a birthday card for Jesus.
  • Draw or paint your favorite scene from the story.
  • Make place cards for Christmas dinner that display the messages of Christmas: joy, peace, love, hope, Jesus, God is with us, Emmanuel, etc.

Timeline:

  • Make a timeline using the major events in the story: Annunciation, Mary and Joseph’s Wedding, Journey to Bethlehem, Birth of Jesus, The Visit of the Shepherds, Journey of the Magi, Visit of the Magi, King Herod’s Order, Flight into Egypt, Return to Nazareth
  • Draw a simple picture or use Christmas cards to illustrate each event in the story.

Catholic Resources

Angel Gabriel:

  • Angel Gabriel shares a feast day with St Michael and St Raphael on September 29.
  • Information about Angel Gabriel:

http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=279

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06330a.htm

Litany of Mary of Nazareth

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=457

This story is told according to the Gospels of St. Luke and St. Matthew

  • The Birth of JesusMatthew 1: 18-25, Luke 1: 26- 38, 2: 1-20
  • The Visit of the Magi and the Flight into EgyptMatthew 2: 1-15

Catholic Vocabulary:

Hope – The confident desire of obtaining a future good that is difficult to attain. It is therefore a desire, which implies seeking and pursuing; some future good that is not yet possessed but wanted, unlike fear that shrinks from a future evil. This future good draws out a person’s volition. Hope is confident that what is desired will certainly be attained. It is the opposite of despair. Yet it recognizes that the object wanted is not easily obtained and that it requires effort to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way.

 

Peace – the tranquility of order. Peace is first of all the absence of conflict. But it is also the serenity experienced because there is no conflict. It is the calm that accompanies agreement of human wills, and is the foundation of every well-ordered society.

 

Joy – In spiritual literature, the feeling aroused by the expectation or possession of some good. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Joyful emotions affect the body, but they are essentially in the higher faculties of the soul. Differs from pleasure, which may affect the human spirit but originates in some bodily sensation. Thus joy is possessed by angels and human beings, and its source is the rational will.

 

Information about the Holy Innocents

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07419a.htm

 

CCC 522 The coming of God’s Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God willed to prepare for it over centuries. He makes everything converge on Christ: all the rituals and sacrifices, figures and symbols of the “First Covenant”. He announces him through the mouths of the prophets who succeeded one another in Israel. Moreover, he awakens in the hearts of the pagans a dim expectation of this coming.

 

CCC 525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:

The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!

CCC 530 The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.” Christ’s whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him. Jesus’ departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God’s people.

 

 

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