Dear Friends in Christ,
It is often difficult to prepare well for Christ's coming with all the various things we need to do and places to be. However, with the right perspective, all the things that may cause us stress can be gifts from God to bring us closer to Him. We need to take a moment to recognize that He is inviting us to invite HIM into all aspects of our lives.
To better understand this, let us take a closer look at the Feasts of Mary that we celebrate during this time of Preparation and within the Christmas Season.
On December 8th (though this year it was the 9th because it fell on Sunday) we celebrated Mary's Immaculate Conception. We recognize that God prepared for His Incarnation by granting a singular grace to Mary from her very beginning to be free from the stain of original sin. This gift gave Mary an abundance of grace to be able to say “yes” to God. Though Mary is the only one to receive this unique privilege of grace, God offers each of us graces to be able to respond to His invitation to us in our life, but we must be willing to cooperate.
December 12th was the Feast of Our Mother of Guadalupe, Mary's appearing to Saint Juan Diego. Why does Mary appear to some people? What is her role? We are not required to believe in apparitions, but the Church will grant approval, after an intensive investigation of its authenticity, as a belief worthy of of helping one's faith. Mary's appearing to St. Juan Diego led to the conversion of millions of people in a short time. All of us are called to conversion. Mary helps bring us closer to her Son, just as she told the servants at the Wedding Feast of Cana to do, “What ever He tells you.”
On the Octave of Christmas, January 1st, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Church already began the New Year back on the First Sunday of Advent. Now as we begin the Secular New Year, we recognize Mary's role in God's Plan of Salvation. She brought Christ forth. As unbelievable as Gabriel's message was, she believed in God's Word, and the Word was made incarnate in her womb by the Holy Spirit. We too are call to trust in God's Word, to follow Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
As we continue through these final days of Advent, and celebrate Christmas (which doesn't end until January 12th with the Baptism of Our Lord), let us take moments to recognize God's working's in our heart, accepting the graces He offers, recommitting ourselves to follow Him more closely. May Our Blessed Mother always guide us along the way.