This weekend I went on an adventure — a weekend camping retreat in the desert. Two priests and one sister from the Community of Saint John put on the retreat through their Marian Faith Network. The retreat was an advent retreat to help us prepare for Christ’s coming. The theme was meeting Mary in the desert.
One of my favorite things about the retreat was how everyone shared a common experience of hiking, camping, and freezing together. Waking early each morning for an hours of silent prayer drew us into adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and prepared us for community with each other.
Everyone bore the early mornings and difficult hikes with joy and consideration. Few complaints were had and everyone sought to assist each other through hikes as they shared food, clothing, blankets, and a helping hand in order to climb the mountains.
Now as we step back into the busy weeks before Christmas it is time to maintain the preparation for the advent of Christ. On the retreat we were encouraged to turn to Mary’s life as one way to prepare for advent.
After Mary discovered she had conceived by the Holy Spirit she immediately went to care for her cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant in her old age. Father Nathan on the retreat talked about how it was immediately after saying yes to God that Mary went to care for her cousin. As we prepare for the coming of Christ remember Mary’s life in both her adoring yes to God and her service to others.
The Holy Father Pope Francis in his first Papal Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium says, “Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” (2)
Later Pope Francis continues, “Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother’s womb (cf. Lk 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:47). When Jesus begins his ministry, John cries out: “For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled” (Jn 3:29).” (5)
As we prepare for the birth of Christ let us (advent)ure to silent times of prayer and step out with joy to serve others.
Suggested Bible Passages to reflect on:
1. Luke 1
2. Isaiah 7:10-17