Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advent: Our Lady

Last week one of the Brothers invited us to consider the image of Our Lady of Advent. In the season of Advent, Mary calls us to prayer and meditation on the mystery of the Word made flesh within her. So often, Advent is a season characterized by rushing about, filled with hectic preparations for Christmas, as well as premature celebrations of the feast. It can be anything but reflective. This feast and this icon call us to imitate Mary who stands in silent contemplation of the mystery that is within her, and within us, Christ Jesus himself who came to dwell with us and will come again to take us to dwell with him.

Mary "kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." Through the ages this has been Mary's role, calling us to prayer, to ponder these things in our hearts. It would make a good starting point for an Advent rule of devotional reading and meditation.

Pope Benedict encouraged Catholics to look to the example of the Blessed Mother in order to understand both the nature of Christ's coming and what we must do to prepare for it:

"Mary belonged to that part of the people of Israel who in Jesus' time were waiting with heartfelt expectation for the Savior's coming. And from the words and acts recounted in the Gospel, we can see how she truly lived steeped in the prophets' words; she entirely expected the Lord's coming. She could not, however, have imagined how this coming would be brought about... The moment when the Archangel Gabriel entered her house and told her that the Lord, the Savior, wanted to take flesh in her, wanted to bring about his coming through her, must have been all the more surprising to her.

"We can imagine the Virgin's apprehension. Mary, with a tremendous act of faith and obedience, said "yes": "I am the servant of the Lord." And so it was that she became the "dwelling place" of the Lord, a true "temple" in the world and a "door" through which the Lord entered upon the earth."
Like Mary, we must prepare our souls to be "fitting abodes for the Redeemer," a daunting task, indeed; but let us not be discouraged, for we may find consolation in the knowledge that Christ and His Mother accompany us on our journey.