I love Christmas too. But, I think I love Advent even more. I love thinking about Mary, and how the angel visited her to tell her she was to have a son. I have always wondered if she felt confused and lonely, and unsure as to her future. The great thing about Mary to me is how she blindly trusted God and let him take control. Every year I try to remember and reflect upon how her faith and obedience to God's plan for her became his ultimate plan for us all.
I know what others say about how we "worship" her, and nothing could be farther from the truth. We revere her - God revered her too. He chose her to be mother of his son. She was the one that was chosen out of every woman who ever lived to be the mother of his son. How can we not give her our love and respect?
My journey with Mary began long before I converted to Catholicism. Even as a child growing up in a Southern Baptist home, I always wondered why we only talked about her at Christmas. I almost got in trouble once when I was about 6 years old because of my little "devotion" to Mary.
We were in a Sunday School assembly right around Christmas in my little hometown church and the preacher came in to visit. He gave us an opportunity to ask questions, and it was the opportunity this shy little girl was waiting for. I innocently asked why we never mentioned Mary except at Christmas, and even though I have no recollection of how he answered me, I do remember feeling that I had brought up an uncomfortable issue. Instead of making me forget her, it made me more interested in her.
Somehow, I got a statue of Mary when I was a kid. When I think of it now, I realize it is something of a mini-miracle. I was in a tiny town in South Carolina with no Catholic church and especially no Catholic gift shop anywhere near me. But I had that statue in my room for the longest time. I just looked at her and thought about how special she must have been to be the mother of the son of God.
Of course, now I realize God was preparing me for my conversion to Catholicism. I know he knew already that I would meet and marry an Italian Catholic boy and I would convert with my first child, my son, in my womb.
He knew I would need his Mary in my life when I faced my hardest trial. She lost her child and so did I. Her loss became our gain. Because of her loss, I will see my child again.
"Savior of the nations, come; Virgin's Son, make here your home.
Marvel now, both heav'n and earth, That the Lord chose such a birth.
Not by human flesh and blood, by the Spirit of our God
Was the Word of God made flesh, Mary's offspring, pure and fresh.
You, the Father's only Son, Have o'er sin the vict'ry won.
Boundless shall your kingdom be; When shall we its glories see?
Brightly does your manger shine; Glorious is its light divine.
Let not sin o'er cloud this light; Ever be our faith thus bright. "