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What Advent means to the Sisters of Life (moving testimony and pics!)


Sr. Mary Margaret Hope, SV - published on 12/21/21

A child in the womb changes everything, and suddenly the world is new ...

As Sisters of Life, Advent is one of our favorite seasons. It is a time to ponder the incredible truth that God became a human being inside the womb of His mother. This truth changes everything — suddenly, the world is new, infused with a glory that it never had before — because God is with us. 

We experience this over and over again with the courageous women we serve in our mission to pregnant women in need. It is often the case that embracing a child in the womb shifts the whole trajectory of her life. Suddenly she is no longer the center of her world. She changes her diet and her clothes; often she must look for a new place to live; her “wish-list” is filled with onesies and baby gadgets instead of designer jeans or the latest iPhone. She has a new drive to find a good job or finish her schooling. There can be fear as she faces many unknowns and wonders if she has what it takes to be a mother. But in the midst of the ups and down, the chaos of a crisis pregnancy, there is a joy that never fails to take us by surprise. The first sonogram, the first kick, setting up a little bassinet in her tiny apartment — each of these moments is filled with glory — the glory of love. 

I can’t think of anything besides motherhood that can so quickly transform a  woman. I’ll never forget what one mother said to me when she called from the maternity ward shortly after giving birth. It had been a rocky pregnancy, full of anxiety and wavering, and she had struggled to embrace the newness her child was bringing into her life. But now her voice was bubbling over with joy. She said to me “I get it now. I know God is real. I know it sounds crazy. But when I look into my son’s eyes, I know God is real.” 

She said to me “I get it now. I know God is real. I know it sounds crazy. But when I look into my son’s eyes, I know God is real.” 

When I ponder what Mary must have experienced during that first Advent, as her life was turned upside down by the announcement of an angel, I think of courageous women like this. Love entered into her heart, into her womb, and the whole trajectory of human history changed. 

As Sisters of Life, we wear a medal on which is inscribed a line from a poem called “The Annunciation” by Fr. John Duffy CSSR

It reads “and nothing would again be casual or small.” It reminds us that because God became incarnate in the womb of Mary, every part of creation takes on new significance and meaning.   

Advent can be a busy time, full of many preparations and social engagements, and sometimes (at least as Sisters) we can lament the reality that we cannot spend the weeks of December in as much quiet contemplation as hoped. But if we really allow the life-altering reality of the Incarnation to penetrate our hearts, all the busyness takes on new significance.

During Advent, like a woman expecting a child, love can pull us out of ourselves and change our priorities, goals, and every aspect of our lives. When we keep in mind that God is the focus of this season, we will begin to recognize His image in every person we meet.  Instead of a burden, all the shopping, cooking, and visiting can become opportunities to love and serve the Lord. We will look for occasions to connect with Him in prayer, to strengthen the bond as does a mother singing to her unborn child. 

If we live this season well, then on Christmas Day we may receive a grace like that young mother in the maternity ward – to know God is real, to glimpse His face in the faces of our loved ones and in the silence of our hearts. 

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