Advent is such a special season, a beautiful, grace-filled time in which the Church prepares for the Coming of the Lord — both at the end of time and in the present Christmas Season. And one of the primary biblical characters who emerges to guide us through the season is our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary. Her Advent influence is found at several key points.
The first is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th, when Catholics proclaim that Mary, from the first moment of her conception in her mother’s womb, was preserved from all stain of original sin. This was a special privilege granted to Mary because of her unique role as the Mother of God. But in following her example, we also long to be free of sin and full of grace.
The second moment comes a few days later on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on December 12, which commemorates the appearance of our Blessed Mother to the Aztec Indian, Juan Diego in 1531. The apparition had enormous impact on the native peoples as it revealed God’s love for them and reminded them that they too were his beloved children. In the years that immediately followed Mary’s appearance, millions of people converted to the Christian Faith. While the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is revered especially by Latino Catholics, it is for all of us a stirring reminder of Mary’s maternal care.
And finally, on the 4th Sunday of Advent each year, as Christmas approaches, our Blessed Mother takes her rightful place in the center of the liturgical stage. On those Sundays the Gospels explain “how the birth of Jesus came about,” or they present the accounts of the Annunciation or the Visitation, both critical events in the Christmas story. The appearance of Mary in the liturgy leaves no doubt that the birth of Jesus is now very near.
Mary is the patron saint of Advent. She is present throughout the season. From her we learn the virtues of faith, trust, courage and devotion as we, too, await the coming of the Lord. When you pause before the Nativity scene this Christmas, look into Mary’s eyes. She is looking at Jesus. That’s Mary’s eternal vocation — to lead us to Jesus.
Something to think about: “No one has ever been so devoted to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary.” (St. John Paul II)