The Joy of a Merciful and Marian Advent

Have you ever considered that being joyful can be both an act of mercy and a way of preparing for the coming Messiah? When we chose to be joyful, we are choosing to imitate Mary’s example, a woman who was fully prepared to welcome Christ.

By Br. Eliott, MIC

The holy season of Advent begins this Sunday, Dec. 3!

There so many meaningful traditions in the season of Advent — and it’s hard to do them all! Some families have an Advent wreath and light the appropriate candles every night. Some families pray special Advent prayers during dinnertime. Other families prepare an empty manger for the Christ Child. Some families make a “Jesse Tree.” Some choose to learn about the original tradition of the Christmas tree. Other families like to celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas (Dec. 6). Some families like to listen to Advent music instead of Christmas tunes. 

All of these traditions are wonderful, but what about those who want to live this Advent mercifully and, in a way similar to Mary? 

Good examples
This Advent, we have the opportunity to learn from the examples of Our Lady, the Mother of God, and St. Faustina, the great saint of Divine Mercy, to make this year’s Advent the best we have ever had.

In my humble opinion, I believe that it would be fantastic to choose one or more of the aforementioned Advent traditions, but also above all to focus on being joyful this Advent. 

Both Mary and St. Faustina give us the example of joy. When the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, Gabriel said, “Hail [or “Rejoice”], full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). The Greek word for “Hail” or “Rejoice” is chaire. The word chaire is found in the Greek version of the Old Testament, and it is always used as a proclamation of joy in the coming Messiah (see Zeph 3:14, Joel 2:21; Zech 9:9; Lam 4:21). 

Pope Benedict XVI said in the Advent season of 2012, “The Angel’s greeting to Mary is therefore an invitation to joy, deep joy. It announces an end to the sadness that exists in the world because of life’s limitations, suffering, death, wickedness, in all that seems to block out the light of the divine goodness.” 

Profound correlation
Have you ever considered that being joyful can be both an act of mercy and a way of preparing for the coming Messiah? When we chose to be joyful, we are choosing to imitate Mary’s example, a woman who was fully prepared to welcome Christ.

In fact, there is a profound correlation between Mary’s joy and her Immaculate Conception — her being free from all sin. When the angel Gabriel said, “Hail [rejoice], full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28), the term “grace,” charis, has the same linguistic root as the Greek word for “joy.” 

Benedict XVI said during the Advent season in 2012, “In this term too the source of Mary’s exultation is further clarified: her joy comes from grace, that is, from being in communion with God.” Inasmuch as Mary was joyfully in communion with God to the fullest extent, she was given the grace to be free from all sin. 

Joyful despite trials
Saint Faustina was also incredibly joyful despite her trials in the religious life. Saint Faustina used the word “joy” or “joyful” over 200 times in her Diary. Faustina understood that being joyful is an act of mercy.

In the very first entry in her Diary, Faustina writes: “O Sweet Jesus, it is here that You established the throne of Your mercy. To bring joy and hope to sinful man” (Diary, 1). Faustina’s spiritual director once gave her the admonition to “ Act in such a way that all those who come in contact with you will go away joyful… They should take leave of you with their hearts filled with joy …” (Diary, 55). 

Living joyfully during this Advent might seem like a daunting task. However, with the help of God’s grace, all things are possible. I will leave you with the words of Pope St. John Paul II in the Advent season of 1998: “Let us walk with joy and watchfulness, as we wait for the season that recalls God’s coming in human flesh, a time which reached its fullness when Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem.”

Amen! 

Brother Eliot, MIC, is a seminarian for the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.
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