I'll admit it: I've been in a sort of "spiritual funk" this Advent. It's not been at all what I anticipated, which was nothing short of quiet contemplation and soaking in the hush of solitude. What did I expect with two small children, both with special needs, and one on the way? (Oh, and I have a sick dog who contracted a fungal infection, too. Gross, I know.)
To say I've been sorely disappointed in how I've experienced Advent so far is an understatement. I've done everything I can think of - novena prayers, reading Advent reflections, participating with our kids in Jesse tree activities and Advent wreath readings, extra Masses and Confession, etc. But I still feel the same inside - empty, hollow, and a bit annoyed.
At the beginning of the liturgical season, I attended a beautiful women's evening of reflection, where Heidi Hess Saxton spoke about her new book, Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations. Her talk, so rich with the wisdom of this simple saint, was refreshing and enlightening. But I still felt nothing inside, which was peculiar to me...until she spoke these words:
Take Mary with you.
Being pregnant with our third child, I wanted to journey through Advent with the Blessed Mother, but I've neglected to really enter into that meditative state that is conducive to "pondering these things in her heart." Somehow, though, those words were meant for me - and they are meant for you, too.
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As moms, we need to take Mary with us everywhere we go, in all that we do, every day. Consider it an informal renewal of your Total Consecration to Mary commitment. Essentially, it means that she must be the impetus who leads us beyond that spiritual funk, as I mentioned.
Whenever I get a little bit wary of praying too much to Mary, I remember the wisdom of the saints: "You can never love Mary too much, because you will never love her as much as God does." If you take Mary with you this Advent, try not to worry about whether or not you are focusing "too much" on Mary, because you cannot do so with true devotion.
Case in point: As soon as I began taking Mary with me - into the daily irritations of cleaning up dog puke, attempting to potty train my preschooler, breaking up cat fights between the girls, and managing other minor fiascos - I was actually gleaning new insights into how I could love Jesus more fully. In the midst of such spiritual aridity, what became my temporary oasis was a simple solution: Go to Eucharistic Adoration.
I do not live in a geographical area where Eucharistic Adoration is offered perpetually. In fact, our parish only offers it on First Fridays for about 8 hours. But the day before, I had chosen to talk more to the Blessed Mother by sharing with her what was on my heart, including my disappointment in how lamely I was "celebrating" Advent. And the thought immediately came to me: Go to Eucharistic Adoration.
I tucked that thought away with some vague plans to arrange it when I picked up Heidi's book and read the daily reflection: Go to Eucharistic Adoration. Acknowledging this as providence rather than coincidence, I resolved to make solid plans later in the day. Then I happened to watch a video about making your Advent holier. The first message? You bet - Go to Eucharistic Adoration.
You see, the Blessed Mother was leading me to her Son, hidden in the Eucharist, so that I might be consoled by the fact that I have felt spiritually desolate and weak for quite some time. Loving her led me to adore her Son in this way, a way I likely wouldn't have otherwise carved time in my busy day to do.
But that's the beauty of taking Mary with us during Advent and beyond. She speaks to us in simple messages, always inviting us to come closer, moving us away from fear and toward a greater faith.
Copyright 2016 Jeannie Ewing
About the Author
Jeannie Ewing believes the world ignores and rejects the value of the Cross. She writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. As a disability advocate, Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters and is the author of From Grief to Grace , A Sea Without A Shore , and Waiting with Purpose. Jeannie is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and contributes to several online and print Catholic magazines. She, her husband, and three daughters live in northern Indiana. For more information, please visit her website lovealonecreates.com.