Advent: Women of Faith and the Domestic Church

Wallace Advent Wreath

O Come O Come Emmanuel!

A few years ago, I was introduced to the term, the “Domestic Church.”  It was really something the hubby fell in love with, and he constantly spoke of our little domestic church.  We were able to easily see this through Marriage Encounter.  For those of you who would like that booster shot for your marriage, Worldwide Marriage Encounter is the place for you to be.  This is where our family really found its home, and where our domestic church was brought into the fullness of faith.  Praise God, btw (as the kids say).

As I was reflecting on Advent, the domestic church continued to come into prayer and focus.  What is this Domestic Church, what does it have to do with Women of Faith, and Advent??  Well, hold on to your skirts, sisters!  We are about to take a journey…leading us back to our beloved Papa John Paul II, as he reiterated the dignity of women, and the unique and BEAUTIFUL role women play to “aid humanity in not falling.”

What is Advent?  Advent is derived from the Latin (of course) meaning “coming.”  The Lord is coming.  In particular, the Lord is coming as that beautiful Baby, born of a virgin, in a stable, in a very simplistic, yet completely earth shattering birth.  We are waiting in joyful hope!  Joyful hope for the coming of the Lord.  (This should all start to sound familiar…)…

This leads me to something I heard from a guest today on our Faith and Good Counsel radio show on Baton Rouge Catholic Community Radio.  Janice Carbon, Catholic Psychotherapist, was talking today about women and how women can prepare for Advent.  She stated how Advent is a time to focus on the baby Jesus, and then she related how this is so very real for women because of our life-giving nature, and the role women play in taking care of babies…holding babies closely.  POWERFUL VISUAL FOR ALL WOMEN TO PONDER…We rock the babies…(I mean, men do too, but I think women CRAVE this connection with babies).  This visual brought me to tears…I have never thought about rocking the baby Jesus…of course, that’s always been our Mother’s job.  But if I stop and reflect on this…our spiritual motherhood, as we are all called to in our gender, is captured so beautifully in this statement.

Think about a time when you CRAVED connection with a baby…to hold and rock a beautiful creation of our Lord.  I did just this past Thanksgiving.  My brother-in-law was married over the break, and our whole family was together.  My sister-in-law, who was married last year, brought her 8 month old baby to the wedding.  I couldn’t get enough holding the baby.

Me with my beautiful baby niece, Addi.  She was a joy to rock and hold.  What a gift from God!

Me with my beautiful baby niece, Addi. She was a joy to rock and hold. What a gift from God!

Her smell…her sweet coos…her happy smile…her beautiful life…I just couldn’t get enough.  I anticipated her arrival all week…it was her arrival I was most concerned with…I thought day and night about how it would feel to hold her, and to connect with hear again…and I mourned a little when she left.  And the time with her was just HEAVEN!

Advent is like this…and it came through a woman…Mary was chosen as the way God would reveal himself, through His Son to all of humanity.  God came through a woman…Mary PREPARED for Jesus’ birth (of course with St. Joseph by her side).  We are reminded in the Bible that she kept all these things in her heart.  Don’t we all, as mothers and spiritual mothers, keep these things in our heart.  Our children are never far from our heart, and our spiritually adopted children are there as well.   Our preparation for Advent as women of the New Evangelization, must be a time of anticipation…as though we are anticipating the most exciting event in our lives…Because we are…We are waiting in joyful hope for Emmanuel!  The hope of everything suffering and ugly in this world.  Emmanuel…I can just hear the cantor singing this…it soothes the soul, as the waiting continues.  Knowing that in a few short weeks, we will be holding the baby Jesus in our lives…learning from Mary’s humility and amazing “yes” to our God.  Advent is just the way I want to spend my days this December, after such a political year, such a year of despair financially, such a year filled with doubt and uncertainty.  Advent is such the reality…

Our Blessed John Paul II reminds us as women that we have a role in this church, and that role is paramount.  His letters to women are written in beautiful language, reminding us of our true dignity.  In his letter to women, Blessed John Paul II writes,

Necessary emphasis should be placed on the “genius of women”, not only by considering great and famous women of the past or present, but also those ordinary women who reveal the gift of their womanhood by placing themselves at the service of others in their everyday lives.  For in giving themselves to others each day women fulfill their deepest vocation.  Perhaps more than men, women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts.  They see them independently of various ideological or political systems.  They see others in their greatness and limitations; they try to go out to them and help them.  In this way the basic plan of the Creator takes flesh in the history of humanity and there is constantly revealed in the variety of vocations, that beauty-not merely physical, but above all spiritual – which God bestowed from the very beginning on all, and in a particular way on women.”

What a beautiful way to remember that as women, we are called to give life to the New Evangelization, and to bring the “baby Jesus” to others this Advent season.  Blessed be the name of the Lord!  Emmanuel!  Let us start with our “domestic church.”  Our beautiful families, physical and spiritual, need our examples, traditions, and love at this time, maybe now more than ever.

3 Strategies in Waiting for the Baby Jesus this Advent

The Creche is an amazing way to reflect on during the Advent season.

The Creche is an amazing way to reflect on during the Advent season.

1.  Spend some time in front of an empty creche…The empty creche is a way to remember that something is coming.  It is not here yet, but He is coming.  When I am before the empty creche, my mind turns to prayer.  It is normal and natural.  Just talk to Jesus.

2.  Do something for others.  If you have children, include them in doing something for others.  Visit the widows and widowers of your parish from the last year.  This can be a particularly upsetting time of the year for them.  Listening to them, comforting them, and just visiting is important for them.

3.  Set up an Advent wreath in a prominent location in your home.  The Wallace’s have an Advent wreath on the table.  Make plans to bless the wreath as a family.  There are so many books right now with Advent prayers and reflections.  I recommend, “O Radiant Dawn,” by Lisa Hendey.  This Advent reflection has a reflection for older and younger members of the family.  They are short, but very meaningful, especially for dinner time conversation.

Bonus strategy:

For those of you with children, here is a strategy we are using this year.  We had a conversation with all of our children pre-Advent.  We told them we are minimizing their nights away from the family this season in order to go through the season together.  Their friends are totally welcome at our home, but we want to maximize our time together.  Our oldest is going away to college next year, and this may be the last year we can really do this together all season long.  We want to create those memories together.

Have the greatest Advent ever!  Let’s all welcome the baby that changed the world.

Peace of Christ to you!

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