by Sister Judith Jackson, SCL

Year upon year, the season of Advent can be such a graced and transformative time in our spiritual lives. How do we open our eyes, minds, and hearts to how the mystery of the Incarnation unfolds, not just in salvation history, but in the birthing anew of the Christ, Emmanuel, within and among us?

So, together, we explore the meaning of the Incarnation to deepen our relationship with Jesus.

  • To recognize the Incarnation AS IT WAS
  • To realize the Incarnation AS IT IS NOW
  • To long for the fullness of the Incarnation AS IT WILL BE 

From childhood on, so many sacred and secular images bombard us during this pre-holiday time. In our Christian tradition, we have only three weeks of Advent Season this year. How might we focus with a fresh perspective? You may have already chosen your path.

The invitation to this reflection centers on  realizing the Incarnation AS IT IS NOW

The specific focus is to reflect on Mary, a central character of THIS STORY OF GRACE.

As this reflection was emerging in my mind and heart, my eyes were opened and startled slightly by this quote from the 13th-century German mystic Meister Eckhart: 

We are all meant to be Mothers of God,
for God is always needing to be born.

You might wish to revisit and ponder the Scriptures of the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the Infancy narratives.

This poem by Jessica Powers, an American mystic and Carmelite nun, offers another way of reflecting on Mary and the birthing of the Presence within each one of us.  


I live my Advent in the womb of Mary,
And on one night when a great star swings free
from its high mooring and walks down the sky
to be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith’s walled place,
with hope’s expectation of nativity.
I knew for long she carried me and fed me,
Guarded and loved me, though I could not see.
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth’s most amazing knowledge:
Someone is hidden in this dark with me.

“Advent” used with permission of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.,
from Selected poetry of Jessica Powers, Jessica Powers and Regina Siegfried, 1989;
permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center, Inc.

You might wish to reflect beyond Mary to your mother who carried you in her womb.  My mother modeled a woman full of grace for me and our family.  And I quote a brief section of the Communion reflection I was privileged to give at her funeral some thirty years ago.

  • Mother’s name:  Mary Virginia
  • She had great devotion to Mary all her life
  • How many times did she recite the Hail Mary?
  • I believe that she grew into the words of that traditional prayer.
  • Over a lifetime with God’s grace, she became full of grace.

Finally, we look to Mary as the Mother of Jesus, his first disciple, the Mother of the Church and dubbed by the theologian, Elizabeth Johnson, Truly She Is Our Sister.

At this time of such global violence and chaos, we pray to Mary to heal the wounds of our broken world, the division in our churches and to ensure peace in our families and in our hearts.

And as we pray from “A Child in Winter,” by Caryll Houselander:

  • O God of Wonders, you called Light into being and manifested your glory in Mary’s womb.  This Advent fill us with your Spirit and make us Light.

  • O God who comes to us in Advent, help us recognize our humanity as a gift, that with Jesus, we share with you.



Excerpts from “A Child in Winter” used with permission of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.,
from A Child in Winter, Caryll Houselander, 2000;
permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center, Inc.




Join Us for Advent Linger Over Coffee

December 5, 12, & 19, 2023
9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Marillac Center

Lay members of the local community are invited to these Tuesdays during the Advent Season for times with input, prayer and conversations. We are guided by experiences of Marillac Center’s team members, to examine our journeys in Advent into the Christmas Season. The morning may conclude by joining the SCL Sisters for their daily Liturgy at 11 a.m. Contact for more information.