An Advent Reflection

By Katie.

I have always seen Advent as a beautiful season of hope and joyful expectation.  I fell in love with Advent when I entered my religious community.  There’s something about the quiet waiting of our Blessed Mother that has resonated so deeply with me.

              For the first time in eight years, I am spending Advent at home with my family, instead of in the convent.  I made the decision to leave the community six months ago, after more than seven years as a religious Sister.  I chose to leave during a period of intense desolation, and looking back, I see that I acted in haste, without any true discernment.  At the time, I was sure I was at peace with my choice, but my former postulant directress very wisely told me, “What you feel is relief, not peace.”  I brushed her off as not understanding my situation, but after six months, I see the truth in what she said.  I have yet to find the peace I thought I had.  Instead, I came very quickly to deeply regret leaving the convent, and do not yet know if it would be possible for me to return.

              This Advent, I find myself seeing Mary in a new way.  I reflect upon her months of pregnant expectation, and for the first time, see more than just her joy.  It must have been a time of great uncertainty for her, and also of learning whole-hearted trust in the God of the impossible.

              How critical are hope and trust during the pregnant pauses in our own lives.  In times of “limbo,” pain, or uncertainty, the temptation can be to fall into anxiety and even despair.  Blessed are we to have Mary to guide us and be our example in these times.

              As we enter the final days of Advent, I picture myself sitting alongside Mary in the later months of her pregnancy.  The initial excitement has passed, and in the silence, perhaps Mary’s heart has begun to fill with questions of what the future will bring.  I acknowledge the questions rising up in my own heart…questions of discernment, of God’s will, of doors that may or may not be closed before me.  But rather than give in to the fear and uncertainty, I fix my gaze on Mary.

Very gently, she takes my hands in hers.  She places my right hand over her heart, and the steady beating makes her hope, faith, and trust almost tangible to me.  I cling tightly to Mary’s hope and trust, as I seem to have so little of my own right now.  Then she presses my left hand to her belly, and as I feel the movement of the baby within her, I am reminded that times of uncertainty and waiting are really moments pregnant with God Himself.  It is only by being faithful in the waiting that the sacred new life can be born.

              If you, too, find yourself in a season of uncertainty, take heart.  Hold tightly to our Blessed Mother, and know that something new and beautiful is in the waiting.

The Rosary: A Prayer for Comfort

By Lucia Delgado.

For most of my life, I prayed often. I prayed for my family, friends, the country, and the whole world.

When I entered the Catholic Church in 2004, my prayer life was under development. I was introduced to the Rosary by the Dominican friars and they helped me understand the Blessed Mother more fully.

I guess that is why I decided to aspire with a Franciscan community under the protection of Our Lady of Sorrows. I was attracted by their desire for prayer. After a brief aspirancy period, I left the community after praying and asking the Blessed Mother for help. It seems that I was entering religious life to please others. Six months later, I met my fiancé and we have a wedding date set.  During the discernment process I lived in fear; the marriage vocation scared me because of past family experiences. The Lord told me that everything will be fine… just follow Me. I sat up and accept the call to marriage and eventually motherhood. May God’s will be done.

The Virgin Mary was called not only to be a mother to the Lord; she was called to be a mother to all of us. Her fiat changed everything; she had peace know that God’s will be done.

In the month of the Rosary, I decided to reflect on this beautiful prayer which St. Dominic prayed in order to bring others to the Lord. I would that the brief aspirancy helped me to pray the Rosary and have a greater love for the Blessed Virgin Mary who leads us to Jesus.

By praying the Rosary, my fears are diminished. Mary was courageous enough to travel to visit her cousin Elizabeth; she trusted God throughout the pregnancy and the birth of Jesus.

She was sorrowful during the Passion but she knew that joy was coming.

For those who have left religious communities, know that joy is coming soon. We are not abandoned by our Lord and His Mother. He gives us His Mother to comfort us.

Hence each Ave Maria is a prayer for comfort.

Friends Under the Same Sky

By Cecilia Therese.

As I transition after leaving the convent after 10 years,the hardest thing has been to miss everyone that I had meet in the apostolate in the parishes where I worked. I was at a parish for 6 years and in that time I met families, parishioners that became like family. Not being able to see them or talk to them is very heavy in my heart. Today I was reading the Bible and I came across this verse:

Genesis 31:49 “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight.” This could be a great prayer to lift up to God while we are missing them.  I also came across this : “Whenever I miss my friends, I look in the sky although I can’t see them there. But I feel happy because we are under the same sky.”

The great thing is we have a Mother -The Blessed Virgin Mary. We can ask her to keep all those we had to leave from under her mantle.  Recently I heard that a parishioner I was close with died of cancer this past month. She was 28 years old and a mother of 3 little children. I had the grace to sing and play organ at her wedding a few months ago and in her wedding she was baptized, received first communion, confirmed and made her wedding vows all in the same ceremony! It was beautiful to see her baptized in her wedding dress. She died on a Saturday (the Day of the Blessed Virgin Mary close to 3pm).I am sure Mary was waiting for her in heaven.

So when we are in those moments where we miss the convent and people we left behind, we can turn to Our Lady and ask her to be with us and with those we care about. She went to Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana in her concern and said they have no wine. She is always interceding and she is the queen of heaven and earth.  We are under the same sky as those we left. The Blessed Mother is also there. When you look up at the sky see your friends and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“If you ever feel distressed during your day call upon our Lady and just say this simple prayer: ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.’ I must admit this prayer has never failed me.”
–Blessed Mother Teresa

“Love our Lady. And she will obtain abundant grace to help you conquer in your daily struggle.” –St. Josemaria Escriva

May Our Lady of Guadalupe Pray for us!!!!