Be born, sweet Child

Advent Summons

Come forth from the holy place,
Sweet Child,
Come from the quiet dark
Where virginal heartbeats
Tick your moments.

Come away from the red music
Of Mary’s veins.
Come out from the Tower of David
Sweet Child,
From the House of Gold.

Leave your lily-cloister,
Leave your holy mansion,
Quit your covenant ark.
O Child, be born!

Be born, sweet Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Come to our trembling,
Helpless Child.
Come to our littleness,
Little Child,
Be born unto us
Who have kept the faltering vigil.
Be given, be born,
Be ours again.

Come forth from your holy haven,
Come away from your perfect shrine,
Come to our wind-racked souls
From the flawless tent,
Sweet Child.

Be born, little Child,
In our unholy hearts.

~Mother Mary Francis

Mary words

The wonderful truth about our Mother . . .

“It is very important that we do not allow Our Lady to be distanced from us by her Immaculate Conception, but to be brought closer to us.  She is the one to teach us poor sinners because she is called the Refuge of Sinners.  Our Lord did not give her to Saint John and say, ‘Now I am giving her to you, and she is the Mother of all the flawlessly holy ones.’  But he gave her to be the Mother of all persons . . . and he knew what was in man, what is in each one of us, our weaknesses as well as strengths.”  (Mother Mary Frances)

Advent journey (repost)

This morning I was meditating on Joseph and Mary’s Advent journey to Bethlehem.  So often, I think, we would like our own Advents to be peaceful and calm and balk interiorly–if not exteriorly as well–at inconveniences and grouchy children (and husbands), at interruptions and long lines, etc.  And then there are those even more serious situations that we may be facing: the death of a loved one, possible foreclosure on our house, unemployment . . .  When we think about what the journey to Bethlehem realistically consisted of, we might do well to join ourselves spiritually to Mary and Joseph in their journey, begging God to give us those same graces.

Here is an excerpt from Come, Lord Jesus–Meditations on the Art of Waiting, by Mother Mary Francis, published posthumously:

We think about our Lady on the way to Bethlehem.  Do we really think deeply enough about what she suffered?  And about Saint Joseph’s suffering?  How do we think he felt to take her off in her condition of expectancy, riding the mule to Bethlehem?  Her heart must have been tempted to question, “Why is this?”  And surely his heart was tempted to question.  Neither was supine; these were real people.

There are struggles asked of us, as were asked of them.  And the answer is faith.  We will see later on, of course, in the Scriptures, that it says very plainly that she didn’t understand what Jesus said to them after those three days’ loss.  And she asked him, “Why did you do that?”  Those words, in a sense, sum up her whole relationship with the Son of God, who was the Son of her womb.  And he gives her an answer that she doesn’t understand at all.  He says to all of us, in a different place in the Scriptures, “What I am doing you cannot understand now, but later you will understand.”  That is a precious thought to hold in our hearts.  How many times we say, “I just don’t understand this”, and he says, “One day you will understand.”

In the inevitable struggles of life–and the struggles of these special days–we don’t need to understand.  We just need to respond, and then to hear him say, “One day you will understand.  One day I will explain everything to you–except when that day comes, you won’t need to ask.”  (pp. 103-104)

The Unexpected

This season always seems to bring the unexpected.  Obviously that was the case for Mary: to have to travel to Bethlehem so late in her pregnancy.  This excerpt from a meditation by Mother Mary Francis underscores the truth that nothing is unexpected to God.  May we continue to travel with Mary through the rest of our Advents.  (This is a bit lengthy, but well worth reading the whole of it.)

God has a great plan also in what we call the unexpected.  It isn’t unexpected to God.  He planned it from all eternity.  There is no happenstance in life, certainly not in the spiritual life.  So often we say, “Oh, I didn’t expect that to happen!”  Well, God did.  We could think, “Oh, that is what caused everything to go wrong”, but actually that is what is supposed to make everything go right.  There is nothing unexpected in all of creation.  There is a plan in what we would call the unexpected.  Wasn’t the Incarnation the most unpredictable thing that could ever have happened?  God has his whole master plan for each of our lives. . .  for the whole Church, and we should delight to remember that nothing should ever take us by surprise, except the wonder of God’s plan.

Our Lady was certainly not expecting the Annunciation, and the whole plan of redemption was most unexpected to humanity–the whole idea of it, that the Father’s Divine Son, himself God, should become man, should be incarnated through the agency of this young, unknown girl in a city of which someone was to say, “Can any good come out of that little place?”  What was more unexpected?  This was the whole plan.

God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, says, “I know well the plans I have in mind for you” (Jeremiah 29:11).  We don’t, but that’s wonderful.  If we trust a human being very deeply, we would accept that.  If you were to say to me, “I just don’t get this at all”, I would say, “I can’t explain it to you now, but take my word for it: it’s going to turn out right if you will just do what I’m asking you.”  And I would venture to say you would believe me.  Can we do less for God, who is saying exactly this to us?  “I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare, not for woe!  Plans to give you a future full of hope.  I don’t reveal all the details of those plans because I cannot deprive you of faith.  I cannot deprive you of hope.  I cannot deprive you of the glory of trusting in me.  I cannot deprive you of the wonder of seeing my plan as it unfolds.  I don’t want you to read the whole story and the last page, I want you to keep reading and to enjoy the wonder of what’s coming next in the way that children say, ‘And then what?  And then what?'”  God knows the next page, the next chapter, and even the last page.  It is a plan, and all we have to do is place our lives at the service of that plan so that without presumption we can say, “Yes, the Word will be made a little less unutterable through the word of each of our lives, a little more manifest because we have placed our lives at the service of his plan.”

It is sufficient that God knows this plan.  When it is hard to accept things, we should make that part of our prayer.  We want to become very intimate with him as the great mystics were in very simple, humble ways, saying, “Dear God, I don’t get this at all, but I’m so glad that you do.  And I know that you have a plan and I only want to be at the service of your plan.”  And who of us, in her own life, has not had experience of htat?  The very things that sometimes seemed so hard, so suffering, so puzzling and bewildering, were the very things out of which would come a wonder that we could never have dreamed of.

In our personal lives there is a wonderful unfolding.  It is wonderful to keep going forward.  Even our Lady did not know the last page.  The morning of the Resurrection was not the last page.  She still had much work to do with the infant Church, which held together around her, her life still being placed at the service of his plan.  Why didn’t the Lord take her with him right away?  Nor was her life at the service of his plan completed at her own Assumption, because she still is the Mother of the Church.  The Church is still living and it will go on until the end of time.  And even then her work will not be done, because then it becomes the Church triumphant of which she is still the Queen.  And so, let us determine in all the events of each day to place our lives at the service of his plan.  This is the Happiest way that a person can live.  (from Come, Lord Jesus, pp. 198-200)

Advent journey

This morning I was meditating on Joseph and Mary’s Advent journey to Bethlehem.  So often, I think, we would like our own Advents to be peaceful and calm and balk interiorly–if not exteriorly as well–at inconveniences and grouchy children (and husbands), at interruptions and long lines, etc.  And then there are those even more serious situations that we may be facing: the death of a loved one, possible foreclosure on our house, unemployment . . .  When we think about what the journey to Bethlehem realistically consisted of, we might do well to join ourselves spiritually to Mary and Joseph in their journey, begging God to give us those same graces.

Here is an excerpt from Come, Lord Jesus–Meditations on the Art of Waiting, by Mother Mary Francis, published posthumously:

We think about our Lady on the way to Bethlehem.  Do we really think deeply enough about what she suffered?  And about Saint Joseph’s suffering?  How do we think he felt to take her off in her condition of expectancy, riding the mule to Bethlehem?  Her heart must have been tempted to question, “Why is this?”  And surely his heart was tempted to question.  Neither was supine; these were real people.

There are struggles asked of us, as were asked of them.  And the answer is faith.  We will see later on, of course, in the Scriptures, that it says very plainly that she didn’t understand what Jesus said to them after those three days’ loss.  And she asked him, “Why did you do that?”  Those words, in a sense, sum up her whole relationship with the Son of God, who was the Son of her womb.  And he gives her an answer that she doesn’t understand at all.  He says to all of us, in a different place in the Scriptures, “What I am doing you cannot understand now, but later you will understand.”  That is a precious thought to hold in our hearts.  How many times we say, “I just don’t understand this”, and he says, “One day you will understand.”

In the inevitable struggles of life–and the struggles of these special days–we don’t need to understand.  We just need to respond, and then to hear him say, “One day you will understand.  One day I will explain everything to you–except when that day comes, you won’t need to ask.”  (pp. 103-104)