Author: Sean Barth
So here we are, knee deep in the season of Advent. The interior of my house is smeared with homemade snowflakes and pipe cleaner reindeer, my browser history is 99% Amazon searches, and I've already eaten 31.7 gigatons of Christmas-themed dessert items. But perhaps more than anything, I've been trying to focus on the coming of Christ. Along with that I've been reflecting about how Mary, the Blessed Mother fits into all of this. Having recently taken up the discipline of praying the Rosary every day, I noticed that the "Joyful Mysteries" reveal that the season of Advent is actually ALL ABOUT MARY! Let's take a look, shall we?
First Mystery: The Annunciation (Lk 1:26-28;31), through her "fiat" Mary accepts God’s plan for her. Even though she was probably scared and confused she responds to the Angel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). This Advent, spend time meditating on what God is asking of you. Advent is the perfect time to prepare a place for Jesus in your heart so that you’ll be able to show the same courage Mary showed when God comes knocking on your door.
Second Mystery: The Visitation (Lk 1:41-42), Mary exercises God's Grace by helping her older cousin Elizabeth during her pregnancy. Advent is a time when we can prepare ourselves to best receive God’s grace through good works. In helping others, we are helping Jesus. When we offer comfort those who are less fortunate we are following God's Will; and we are actually comforting Jesus Himself. In this season prepare the world for Jesus by providing others the comfort, respect, and honor they deserve.
Third Mystery: The Birth of Jesus (Lk 2:7), upon hearing of Jesus' birth, shepherds left their flocks to find and honor the newborn Christ-child. Later, we see that a number of wise men traveled a great distance to offer Him gifts. Throughout her life, Mary sacrificed everything in order to care for her Son, even following Him during his Passion. In Advent, why not look for ways to offer sacrifices in your own life. Participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, is an excellent option. The Christmas season can be a time of joy, but don't forget that is an important time to grow in faith.
Fourth Mystery: The Presentation of the Lord (Lk 2:22), Mary and Joseph become one family in the eyes of God. Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem, but the Holy Family was unified under God in the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem. It's an unfortunate fact that some of us might have difficult relationships with our families. Make Advent a time for reconciliation and peace. Pray and meditate on how to heal the wounds that have damaged your relationships. Not only will it bring peace to your soul, but it will make gathering together so much better!
Fifth Mystery: The Finding of Christ in the Temple (Lk 2:49), Mary and Joseph traveled for many days thinking that Jesus was with them when he actually wasn't. This reminds me of the modern mindset that assumes we are close to Jesus no matter what we do. In preparing for Christmas this Advent, stop assuming and start examining. Have you done anything that has moved you away from God’s grace? Another good question to reflect on is how you have honored Jesus. Advent is the start of a new liturgical year. So like a New Year’s resolution, Advent is a time to analyze where you are in your faith and make a spiritual resolution to improve it.
Let Mary guide you through what is left of Advent in the Joyful Mysteries of the holy Rosary. It only takes about 25 minutes. Spend the time. You won't be sorry.