Mary inspires us to live a fruitful Advent Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes

The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming”. During Advent we wait patiently for the coming of Jesus.

According to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar, Advent has a two-fold character. It is a season to prepare for Christmas when we remember Christ’s first coming to us.

It is also a season when that first remembrance directs our minds and hearts to remember Christ’s second coming at the end of time. Advent is thus a season of devout and joyful expectation.

Model of Advent waiting

Mary is the model of Advent waiting for us, because she joyfully, prayerfully, and patiently waited for the birth of Jesus whom she carried in her womb close to her heart.

One of my grade school classmates was born on Christmas. His mother could identify with Mary. Both longed to give birth and share their son with the world.

Fr. Kevin O’Shea, a Marian expert, said that Mary was so in love with Jesus that she conceived him in her heart before she conceived him in her womb.

It was the dream of devout Jewish girls to be the mother of the messiah. God the Father chose Mary by asking her to be Jesus’ mother. Mary’s consent enabled her to be the mother of Jesus, who would redeem us from sin, offer us the gift of eternal life, and send the Holy Spirit to help us to live a Christ-like life.

Radiating joy

Some say that expectant mothers’ faces are beautiful. Mary’s face surely radiated the joy of carrying Jesus in her heart and womb. Her beauty touched stony hearts. Even unborn John leaped with joy in his mother’s womb.

Mary’s Immaculate Conception has become one of the most popular Marian devotions. Many dioceses and churches have Mary as their patron saint under the title of the Immaculate Conception as does my home parish in Kieler, Wis.

In 1846, the First Council of Baltimore declared Mary to be patroness of the United States under the title of the Immaculate Conception. The patronal church of the United States is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, dedicated to Mary, and located in Washington, D.C. It is the largest Roman Catholic church in North America, and one of the 10 largest in the world.

Preparing for Christmas

Mary’s patient waiting can inspire us to patiently use Advent to prepare for Jesus’ birth at Christmas. Above all, Advent can help us come closer to Jesus. Confession, devotions, prayer, spiritual reading, visiting shut-ins, participating more fully in Mass, and other good works help us to prepare for the coming of Jesus. The Holy Spirit will show us other ways if we ask.

Advent listening in faith helps us to let God guide us in our journey through the sometimes-dark days of December to the light of Christmas hope.

It helps us to prepare a crib in the inn of our heart, so that we can joyfully receive Jesus, the Word made flesh, at Christmas and then keep him by giving Him away.

May we enjoy a blessed Advent of hope that helps us to celebrate one of our best Christmases ever!

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.