December 24, 2016 – Silence

Words cannot describe how excited my children are for tomorrow. Their eyes are glowing and they are twitching and bouncing all over the house. While we aren’t experiencing many “Silent Nights”, their joyful energy is filling the house with special emphasis on our nativity scene.

Advent Prayer Reflections - Christmas Eve.
Traveling Mary and Joseph – Fontanini Nativity set. CC Kate Taliaferro 2016.

Last year for Christmas Ben gave me a “traveling” Mary and Joseph. Mary is pregnant and sitting on the donkey while Joseph walks beside her. I love the realism. Mary looks exhausted and is barefoot. Joseph also looks weary but still shows the way. They have been traveling to the manger scene since we set up the nativity. We put up the the more traditionally posed Mary and Joseph along with Baby Jesus and the kids know that today Mary and Joseph will finally arrive at the stable. At first, they kept asking “Where are the real Mary and Joseph? The ones who sit by Jesus?” It was interesting to see how even at 5 and 4 years old they already have impressed in their minds the image of the Holy Family peacefully sitting in the stable.

This got me thinking about our past 4 weeks of Advent prayer experiences. We exposed ourselves to a variety of prayer forms, reflections and methods. Prayer is so many things! It is preparation and petition. It is reflection and listening. Prayer has the power to transform and stabilize. Ideally, prayer is our relationship with our God.

Look at Mary and Joseph on their journey. Because of their relationship with God they were open to His divine presence working in their lives. When the angel came to both of them (Mary at the Annunciation and Joseph in his dream) they were given the opportunity to say “yes” to God’s Will for their lives. They continued to say yes each day that followed, all the way to this day, the day before the Day.

We, too, have been preparing our hearts and minds this Advent to welcome the Christ child. We have shouted with John the Baptist, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” and we have quietly offered our own yes to God’s Will. For today, I’d encourage you to spend your 3 minutes in silent union with the Holy Family. Spend your time in silence, finding the tension between peaceful trust and anxious anticipation that Mary and Joseph must have felt on this morning.

It is the last day of travel and unbeknownst to them, the last day of Mary’s pregnancy. They probably shared their breakfast together and I would bet they prayed together. Ahead of the them the road was probably becoming crowded and noisy. They may have been worried about where they would stay that night. Would today be the day their precious baby, God’s son, would be born?

In the midst of all the excitement, noise and celebration today brings, allow yourself a few minutes to be united with Mary and Joseph as they awaited the coming of their Savior, their son.

*** Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook pageDaily Graces.


Advent Reflections – December 21, 2015

Living in Harmony: Mary in Scripture

When God first spoke to Mary and she accepted His will into her heart and womb, she embarked on a rocky road. She must have told Joseph about the experience, since Scripture tell us he was going to quietly divorce her. Mary and Joseph experiences a period of complete discord and disunity. Perhaps she tried to explain what happened – but how can you really explain “an angel told me, how could I say no?” She may have appealed to his goodness and compassion, asking him to protect her from the severity of the law which could have been lethal if she was not married. At least, that’s what I would have done.

I, however, am not Mary, who was full of grace and lived in unique and perfect harmony with God. When I imagine how Mary would have handled this time of disunity, I find something rather different than my own attempts to fix the problem. Actually, I don’t think Mary tried to fix the problem. I think sat Joseph down and explained as best she could what had happened. She understood that what she was telling him was difficult, impossible even. And yet she would have trusted in his faith in God and in her. She probably told him to pray about it and listen for God’s whispers in his heart. Even when he moved to divorce her, I believe she kept her peace and patience.

Even though Joseph may not have been in unity with Mary during this difficult time, she was with him. She maintained her patience, her compassion, her understanding and her faith in God’s will. She supported Joseph as he struggled to understand what was happening to him through her choice to be the Mother of God.

Being in unity with someone does not mean perfect understanding exists between the two of you. Sometimes, unity is difficult and requires sacrifice, patience and compassion. How can you build greater unity and foster harmony with someone you have a tendency disagree with?