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Reflection for the Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

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Barbara Conroy OSB | December 7, 2022

This Gospel has manifested a deeper meaning in the past two years for me.  When I was a child, Mary was portrayed to me through the rosary. In the stillness of the night and the early morning in our bedrooms, we could hear this line, “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” My mother and father prayed the rosary out loud twice a day together.  My father must have had a softer voice because I could only hear my mother in my bedroom.  Their commitment to each other and to prayer was present in my life.  When my mother moved into Dooley Center, I could imagine my father speaking to her as she often prayed, “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

As a minister of care to the residents in Dooley Center, I have learned to be grateful for the small things in life.   The angel of God appeared to our community in a different way on March 17, 2020.  The news was one of fear, anger, confusion, chaos and change.  Like Mary in the Gospel reading, all of us were greatly troubled and pondered what this would mean for us. Our community was physically split, and soon the residents of Dooley Center were quarantined to their small rooms.  Many times we could hear, “How can this be?”

As often as we heard this question we also heard, “God will provide.” Hesitantly at times, I am sure, each one of us prayed. “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Unlike tonight’s Gospel, however, I don’t feel that the angel ever departed.

During this past weekend, I participated in the “Colors of Advent” retreat directed by Pat Pickett. She led us in an exercise to create our own Magnificat. Her guiding questions were, “How do I want to be liberated?” “What is my song to God?”

In reflecting on these two questions, I thought of the ways God was birthed to me throughout the pandemic. Because of the reality that each of us is a temple and God resides in our hearts, how do we as a community reach out to others and give messages of hope during the times of isolation and fear? How do we continue to be God to each other in the ordinary? How do we continue to heal the heartaches the pandemic has brought us?

Think of writing your own Magnificat this Advent. I would like to end by sharing my own.

My soul is overwhelmed with your love.
Why do I deserve this?
You know when I sit and stand.
You know my innermost thoughts.
At times this places fear in my heart
And I ask for God to show me the way.
God I am truly blest
That I see both your work in me
And your works shining through others.
Help me to continue to rely on you and you alone.