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Seasonal Meditation

Consider the rock... Society of Mary USAADVENT
Mary, Bearing the Light to the World and Hope to an Advent People
By Joel Konzen, S.M.

We are sometimes able to add to our Christian understanding through the sayings of Jewish rabbis that have come down over the years.

One such tale asks how one might tell when darkness ends and day begins. After students make several vain attempts to answer, the rabbi reveals his answer: It is when you can look into the face of others and recognize them as brothers and sisters; until then, the darkness has not lifted and we do not truly enjoy the light.

The season of Advent is all about light and hope. In the Prayer of the Church, the daily breviary we recite, I am interested to see the many references, even in Ordinary Time, to light, such as “We are called to remember the Light of the World as we see the first light of day.” Each day, then, is a small Advent, its dawn recalling “God come down” and recalling the redemption wrought in Jesus Christ.

As we are reminded by the rabbi, the Light helps us to see and to love each other much as we see and love God. The rich symbolism of the season—including evergreens and candles—speak to us of banishing the darkness and of celebrating the newness of life that Jesus represents. For us Marists, the symbols are deeper still, as the “vessel” of Christ’s coming, the Mystical Rose, was Mary. It was Mary whose example inspired the first Marists to follow her and who shows us the way to her Son.

The Pregnant Virgin from Németújvár 1410
The Pregnant Virgin from Németújvár
1410 • Artist Unknown
Hungarian National Gallery

So, of all the symbols of the season of Advent, the person of the Mother of God stands as the largest—the “door of Heaven’s High King.” It is she who bears the Light to the world and, in doing so, bears hope to all who await “the Good News.”

We may well feel these days that good news is in short supply. We await glad tidings on the economic front. Our armed forces are still giving their lives on foreign soil. Catholic schools are closing, and state and local laws are at variance sometimes with Catholic teaching. For all that, France in the days of the founding of our Marist “family” of congregations was reeling from even harder times. The faith had been dealt a blow by the state, and families had suffered greatly at the hand of their own government. Where was hope to come from?

Father Colin said of the very name of Mary, which Marists bear: “What a source of hope, of reassurance!...I shall say to her, ‘Blessed Virgin, help me, I falter.’” When we are feeling the rushing tide overtaking us, it is our challenge to know where to turn. For Father Colin, it was clearly to the one who had called him into her “little company,” where he would joyfully serve her Son and gather others for the same purpose. It was she who was there at the foot of the cross and she who was at prayer with the Apostles. Surely she will sustain those who depend on her loving assurance.

The joy of Advent is the joy of expectation. It is just before dawn, and we await the Light. What has Mary brought to the world except that which was good, was our greatest good? We can wait in silence or, as Father Colin suggests, we can wait by calling on the Mother of Grace, who desires what is good for us no less than what was good for Jesus, her Son. If we are of her family, should we expect any less?

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The season
of Advent
is all about
light and hope.

The joy
of Advent
is the joy of
expectation.

 

Advent Candle being Lit

 

So, of all the symbols
of the season of Advent,
the person of the
Mother of God stands
as the largest—
the “door of Heaven’s
High King.”

It is she who bears the
Light to the world and,
in doing so, bears hope
to all who await
“the Good News.”

 

 

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