Advent Reflection – week four
We want transform our heart-shrines, home-shrines into spaces where love, healing and mercy can be tangibly experienced. Father, your Shrine Heart of Love, Healing and Mercy! Then our encounter with the Child in the Crib will be truly a deep and meaningful one! In this final week of ADVENT our focus on our HEARTS.
ADVENT WEEK FOUR: Light your fourth advent candle
Sunday: A Mother’s heart
REFLECTION: Some of us may have been blessed with the experience of a warm Mother-heart and we know the bliss of ‘coming home’ to such a sheltering heart. Others may not have had such an early experience but have found their refuge in the heart of our Mother and Queen of Schoenstatt. Our Father and founder’s experience of Mary’s love and guidance and his understanding of her place in salvation history has shaped Schoenstatt’s mission..God chose Mary’s heart for His Son to be nurtured and formed by this heart and no other. Our Founder realized early in life that this gift of a warm Mother –heart was also being offered to each one of us. In our covenant we exchange our hearts with that of Mary’s heart. We say this so glibly. Just imagine Mary’s heart beating within me and how this should in turn affect ALL of my senses –my entire self! Today I want to be more conscious of Mary’s heartbeat within me and offer a ‘warm refuge to someone in need” Tonight I shall place in the crib an attempt at ‘being Mary’ in my interaction with others.
Monday: A heart open for formation and transformation
REFLECTION: Mary had quite a tough time after saying her YES to God. She had to face the prejudices of her time and also to be flexible in adapting to God’s plans for her. The bumpy, awkward trip to Bethlehem, the lack of hospitality and then the ignominy of an animal stall as the place to give birth to her Son were but a few such challenges. She was sorely tested all the way, being formed by the Divine Hand of God. We too are called in our covenant to remain open, pliable like clay in the Potter’s Hand. It has to be this way, since our hearts really cannot be trusted left to its own devices. We know too well the hidden reservations nestling in the furthest corners of our hearts and how wavering we are when it comes to ‘crunch time” .Today, I want to reflect on a painful time in my life when God was allowed to “ test me in the fire” as it were. This evening I will place in the crib one such experience and give thanks for it!
Tuesday: A pure heart
REFLECTION: “ A pure heart create for me O Lord – place a steadfast spirit within mel!” How we all long with King David to have such a pure heart. Advent is a time of longing for the coming of our Saviour – it is also a time of longing for the ‘coming of our real selves’ .We are blessed to have such a time of reflection to take stock of what is really going on in our hearts. Some of us may be dismayed about the weeds and the general run-down look of the garden of our hearts. Some areas of our hearts may look like a desert or wilderness. Maybe unwholesome things have taken up their abode there! It’s time to pluck out all that ‘alien vegetation’. Purity of heart can also be more broadly understood in terms of simplicity, humility and transparency. In short, Mary’s well-ordered heart should be our aim in life and in the covenant of love she is willing to give this heart of hers to us provided that we cooperate with her. Today, together with Mary I want to take an honest look at those ‘things’ that need to be dug out from my heart. Tonight I shall name one such ‘thing’ and place it in the Crib.
Wednesday: A heart that can bear suffering
REFLECTION: We all want to be happy but happiness means different things to different people. Our Covenant of Love epitomises the essence of happiness – two hearts beating in one – our frail hearts- sorely needing to love and be loved finds a home in the heart of someone who is capable of loving us selflessly, warmly and deeply and what’s more we know that this love is being led into the heart of the Triune God. Such an anchored heart – aherat that has found its ‘place’ is capable of bearing any suffering since it is not suffering on its own and knows that it is being purified in the furnace of Divine love. Now that may sound too supernatural but think of someone you loved and cared for when they were ill and how you did not consider the costs - nothing was too much - simply because love was the propelling force. You know the story of the young man carrying his brother – when asked if he could manage the answer was :“he isn’t heavy he is my brother”. Mary’s heart is often depicted with seven swords running through it – she loved much and thus could suffer much and can bear all our suffering with us. Tonight I shall place in the crib one experience of suffering and hand it over joyfully to the Christ-child..
Thursday: A merciful heart
REFLECTION: Sometimes we hear the words – “ I will forgive you but I will not forget what you have done! “ that is not true forgiveness and no healing can occur on both sides in such a case. We have been steeped in “mercy” during the past year but how much mercy have we cultivated in our dealings with the ones nearest and dearest to us? I know families that are torn apart because of harsh words, deceit, mistrust and unwillingness to reconcile. The emotional and spiritual costs to the human heart is incalculable. Life is far too short to bear grudges, to nurture festering wounds and to pretend that all is well when in actual fact it is not. Thanks be to God for His Merciful Heart towards each one of us – how on earth would we survive if God was an unforgiving merciless God keeping strict count of all our transgressions in order to make us squirm with discomfort and banish us from his presence?. “if you O Lord should mark our guilt, Lord who would survive? Good question. So let’s put on a permanent heart of mercy! Tonight I shall place in the crib the name of someone that I have been rather harsh towards or the name of someone who I need to seek forgiveness from or the name of someone who has been merciful towards me.
Friday: A transfigured heart
REFLECTION: Mary;s heart knew no guile. What you saw is what you got. Open, transparent, God-centered, Spirit-filled with her will wholly tuned in to the Divine will of the Triune God. How on earth are we ever going to reach that state you may ask? Yes it seems an impossible dream! My sick, disordered, weak heart filled with creepy crawlies should look like Mary’s heart? Quite true –we will not make it on our own –this where our COVENANT comes in -– nothing without you dear Mother, dear Father - nothing without us! So together we can strive for this ideal of a transfigured heart. Our Founder said – “I firmly trust that whoever remains loyal to his/her covenant will not perish”. There we have it –with God ALL things are possible. And so we may believe and trust as children do and dare to love more deeply in a simple way since we have a Mother who cares most perfectly. Mary will lead us on this Advent journey most safely towards the arms of her Infant Son! Tonight I shall place in the crib my immense gratitude for being able to enter into the covenant of love with our Blessed Mother –not through any merit of my own!.
Saturday: My heart as crib for our Saviour
REFLECTION: Come Lord Jesus Come! It is you that my heart has been longing for. For you I have prepared a ‘birthing place’ in the centre of my heart-shrine. Come be born again in me and my family. Come into our home-shrines and fill us all with your light, your love, your peace and your healing. Come Lord Jesus into our communities, our country into a world wrapped in darkness and desolation –come and give us new hope for a new beginning. Take away all cynicism, banish all hardness, awaken us to possibilities that we have been blinded to and fill our hearts with zeal, with wonder and love. Come Lord Jesus, be born in our Schoenstatt Shrines and make your presence tangibly felt there! May all who meet us meet the Christ-child that we carry in the crib of our hearts! Tonight I shall thank the Christ- child for my gift of faith and ask that he blesses all those whom I love and carry in my heart.