– Miguel Augusto
We began a new liturgical year (Year C), with Advent before Christmas. Four weeks to meditate on the mystery of the Incarnation, where there shine forth the Blessed Mother Mary and Our Lord Jesus Christ, God who became man. In these weeks, we await the glorious coming of the Lord, and we remember the waiting of the prophets and Our Lady, for the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem. The word “Advent” (Latin Adventus) was translated from the Greek parousia, means “presence”, “arrival”, “presence started.”
Many of us, when the month of December begins, we remember that Christmas is at the door. When we were children, we were anxious to open the gifts that were accumulating next to the Christmas tree, the great protagonists in Christmas together with the sweets and festive foods. The crib with the Holy Family, the Magi and the animals, seemed to serve only as decoration, although the baby Jesus, lying in the manger (Luke 2:7), always awakened our attention.
Many of us, unknowingly, with the bustle of consumerism, miss the opportunity to focus on the real Christmas and meditate on it. And what is the meaning of true Christmas? True Christmas should focus on the birth of the Child Jesus, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word and the precious gift of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the plan of Salvation of God for all humanity. The meaning of our Christmas should be our union with the Holy Family – St Joseph, Our Lady and the baby Jesus, a “trinity” of holiness in the form of a family, because God wanted to come to the world to show us the importance and value of family and show His love for each of us.
At Christmas, let us learn from the material poverty of the holiest couple that dwelt among us, so that they may encourage us to reach out to the neediest.
The Holy Family, planned in advance by God for Jesus to come into the world, had no worldly wealth which is worthless to God, but had an immense richness in the soul and spirit, capable of accepting everything according to the will of the Lord and following Him. Detachment from the world is essential for us to touch Heaven while here on earth.
Our Lady gave us an example of her dedication to the Lord, of her faith and humility even at a young age, when at the angel’s annunciation she said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). We too must say the same words to the Lord, to be done in us, in our lives, according to the Word, and God’s will. Our Lady is an inexhaustible source of wisdom and example for the living of our faith.
Recently on December 8, we celebrated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception proclaimed by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854. The Virgin Mary herself, in her apparition at Lourdes (France) in 1858, confirmed the dogmatic definition and faith of the people by saying to St Bernadette and to all of us: “I am the Immaculate Conception”.
Mary, the woman of Genesis who treads the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15), the Virgin prophesied by the prophet Isaiah who gives birth to “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14), runs through the scriptures until Revelation; there the woman clothed with the sun (Revelation 12:1), crucial in the Plan of Salvation, thought and designed by God from all eternity, appears triumphant.
This Advent should be a source and inspiration for us to meet the Blessed Mother who was given us by Jesus on the cross when He said to the beloved apostle – to all of us – “‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother’” (John 19:26-27). Then we read in this biblical narrative that the disciple from that hour took the Blessed Mother into his home, so we too must do, take Our Lady into our hearts.
No one takes us to Jesus as Mary Most Holy. No one intercedes for us as the Holy Mother. Mary is the bride of the Holy Spirit (Third Person), and Mother of Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Mother of God. Conceived in the womb of her mother (Saint Anne) free from sin, from her immaculate flesh, she begot the flesh of Jesus that is given us today in the sacramental bread, mystery of faith and the real presence of the Lord – body, blood, soul and divinity, at Holy Mass and in all the tabernacles, until His glorious coming, where all will see Him come in His glory (Matthew 16:27; Revelation 1:7).
Every Catholic Christian should take advantage of Christmas to renew his consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and, if he has not yet done so, to feel this inspiration, and likewise to consecrate himself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who came into the world to give His life as a ransom for all.
At Holy Mass, at Calvary – the altar of the Lord – let us stand there beside Our Lady, praying to God and to the Holy Mother, so that we do not “run away” like the rest of Jesus’ apostles – confused, restless and lost.
It is alongside Mary Most Holy that we must always be, she is the safe harbor where we will find our salvation.
St Augustine (354-430) said: “The Blessed Virgin is the means by which Our Lord has served to come to us, and it is the means by which we should go to him.”
Many saints and doctors of the Church had Mary by their side, with their eyes fixed on Christ, they lived united in the love of the Holy Mother and the Son.
St Germain of Constantinople (610-733), shows us in his thought the value and grace of union with the Blessed Virgin Mary: “For no one is filled with the thought of God except through her.”
Holy Mary, Mother of God, is the Mediatrix of all graces, she is the succor of the afflicted, the refuge of sinners, the safe shelter in the storms of life and faith.
Mary is an example of saying yes to God. With her, we begin a process of transformation, of acceptance of all that the Lord allows in our lives, with our eyes set beyond what our mere pupils can achieve.
Our Lady has appropriated and assumed the words of Jesus spoken on the cross, receiving each of us intimately as beloved children, until the perpetual consummation of all the elect (see Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium).
From the moment we enter this world, she follows us and awaits us with her maternal love, she longs to bring us to her Son, our salvation, for she knows that we were not created to befriend the world, but to live in communion and intimacy with God, our Creator.
This Advent, let us ask Our Lady for the grace of her presence in our lives, the gift of Jesus, unfathomable Celestial jewel. May Mary Most Holy, do with us as she did with Jesus: educate us, guide us, sanctify us, and keep us as his property.
“Do not be afraid to love the Immaculate too much; we can never match Jesus’ love for her: and to imitate Jesus is our sanctification,” said St Maximilian Maria Kolbe (1894-1941), a great devotee and apostle of Our Lady.
The Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830, asking that a medal be made as she saw Our Lady surrounded by this prayer: “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Let us take keep close to our breast this medal and prayer, and let us allow Our Blessed Mother to enter our hearts.