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My Mom’s Smile: Weekly Message for 12-11-2018
Dear Digital Pilgrims, pax Christi:
I may have mentioned to you before what happened the last time I saw my mother. But during this Advent season, and on the eve of celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe, I can’t help thinking again about that experience. Mary’s presence in Advent is so strong, and yet so gentle – a truly motherly presence, though extremely spiritual. And that’s why I keep thinking about the last time I saw my mom.
I was nine-years-old, and my mother was confined to bed. She had been suffering from multiple sclerosis for years, and although I didn’t know it at the time, she was nearing the end. My dad brought my two sisters and I to visit her in the nursing home, right around this time of year. It would be our last visit (she died around Christmas time).
Mom was weak and sickly, but she was still my mom. And I was so happy to see her. Each of us three kids had a chance to speak with her. I remember vividly getting as close as I could, next to the bed rails. I was so eager to tell her about the latest news in my life: I was finally playing on a real basketball team, in a league, with real uniforms and everything. It was my first experience of organized athletics, and it was the major, major headline in my nine-year-old life.
So I told her all about it. She didn’t say much – in fact, I don’t recall her saying anything at all, at least she didn’t say anything with words. But she gave an unforgettable response to my news, and I can still picture that response as if it just happened yesterday. She looked at me in all my childlike eagerness, and her face broke into a big smile. That smile said it all. With that smile, I knew that my headlines were also her headlines, that what mattered to me also mattered to her. And that was indisputable and beautiful proof that I mattered to her too.
It is our hope and prayer that throughout these Advent and Christmas seasons you will experience afresh the smile of your spiritual mother, Mary, which will remind you of how much you matter to God, our Savior who came to earth to redeem us. Mary’s smile, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us, is “a true reflection of God’s tenderness… the source of an invincible hope.” God’s tenderness towards each one of us. The invincible hope that in him our lives are truly, wildly meaningful – eternally so, in fact…
That is what Christmas is all about. That is the underlying theme of this year’s Advent Retreat Guide: A Woman Clothed with the Sun: An Advent Retreat Guide on Our Lady of Guadalupe. And that is what I hope you find – somehow – under your Christmas tree on Christmas Day.
Yours in Him,
Fr John Bartunek, LC, SThD