Advent is the season in which the attention of the Church focuses most naturally on the Blessed Virgin Mary. In our own country, the seasonal focus on Mary is furthered by the coincidence of our nation’s patronal feast, the Immaculate Conception, falling within the Advent season. As well as the most observed feast of the year in the United States, Our Lady of Guadalupe, lands in Advent too: In my neighborhood, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the only feast commemorated with fireworks and they go on for a good fifteen minutes after the close of Mass.
Advent is the season of expectancy as the Holy Father said during his Angelus talk Sunday, and we all await the birth of the Savior, but Mary was the only one who was “expecting.” She was free from the stain of original sin, but not from the emotional or the hormonal or the social or the psychological anxieties that attend childbirth, and hers was an age when childbirth was a dangerous moment for both mother and child. This act in the human drama that we call Christmas can be seen in many ways, but it must always be seen first in a very practical, historical way, as a recollection of the birth of that child by that woman.