As we celebrate the beginning of the new year, we’re still in the midst of the Christmas season. The hustle and bustle of shopping and parties is coming to an end. We wake up on New Year’s Day wanting some time to rest, to relax, to pull away from the madness for a bit.
Today’s feast reminds us that God’s gracious and loving touch always comes to us in very human ways. The mystery of the incarnation that we celebrate in this Christmas season revolves around God taking on our human flesh and dwelling in our midst so that we might become one with him in that love. Marian feasts, besides pointing to Christ, also tell us something about our own lives and the life of the church. St. Luke tells us that after the shepherds left, Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.”
We’ve all had experiences that have been so overwhelming that we have no words for them. We hold them close to protect them from the ordinary push and pull of everyday life. We turn them over and reflect on them until we find a way to share what can be shared. Like Mary, we need to learn to treasure all these things as gifts from a gracious God.
Like many of the saints, St. Francis had a special devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. His favorite church in Assisi, the Portiuncula or “Little Portion” was dedicated to St. Mary of the Angels.
Then he went to another place, which is called the Portiuncula, where there stood a church of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God that had been built in ancient times, but was now deserted and cared for by no one. When the holy man of God saw how it was thus in ruins, he was moved to pity, because he burned with devotion toward the mother of all good; and he began to live there in great zeal. It was the third year of his conversion when he began to repair this church.
Adapted from Advent with St. Francis.
Photo by Diane M. Houdek