Saturday, December 19, 2015


My niece just gave birth to a baby boy, right in the middle of Advent. Pretty cool timing, right? It was certainly becasue of her that I was moved by a meditation read at vigils this morning. It was taken from the Christian spirituality classic written in Britain in 1944, The Reed of God, by Caryll Houselander, a British Catholic mystic, artist and writer. I enjoyed it so much that I’d like to share this excerpt with you. I found it online on the web site of Notre Dame University. I hope that my first Publisher, Ave Maria Press, won’t mind a little free advertising as I borrow this excerpt from their edition of The Reed of God.
When a woman is carrying a child she develops a certain instinct of self-defense. It is not selfishness; it is not egoism. It is an absorption into the life within, a folding of self like a little tent around the child’s frailty, a God-like instinct to cherish, and some day to bring forth, the life. A closing upon it like the petals of a flower closing upon the dew that shines in its heart. 

This is precisely the attitude we must have to Christ, the life within us, in the Advent of our contemplation.
We could scrub the floor for a tired friend, or dress a wound for a patient in a hospital, or lay the table and wash up for the family; but we shall not do it in martyr spirit or with that worse spirit of self-congratulation, of feeling that we are making ourselves more perfect, more unselfish, more positively kind.
We shall do it just for one thing, that our hands make Christ’s hands in our life, that our service may let Christ serve through us, that our patience may bring Christ’s patience back to the world.
By his own will Christ was dependent on Mary during Advent: he was absolutely helpless; he could go nowhere but where she chose to take him; he could not speak; her breathing was his breath; his heart beat in the beating of her heart.
Today Christ is dependent upon us. In the host he is literally put into our hands. We must carry him to the dying, must take him into the prisons, workhouses, and hospitals…
The modern world’s feverish struggle for unbridled, often unlicensed, freedom is answered answered by the bound, enclosed helplessness and dependence of Christ – Christ in the womb, Christ in the host, Christ in the tomb.

This dependence of Christ lays a great trust upon us. During this tender time of Advent we must carry him in our hearts to wherever he wants to go, and there are many places to which he may never go unless we take him to them.
May you spend these last days of Advent in calm, fruitful waiting for the coming of the Lord.

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