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Wait in Joyful Hope Daily Reflections for Advent with the Blessed Mother • • • • • Kathleen M. Carroll


Christmas is only four Sundays away. Use this booklet every day to prepare for the coming feast of the Incarnation. Put it in your purse or shirt pocket. This booklet is a gift to warm your spirit to celebrate the Christmas feast. It’s the Franciscan thing to do.

Fr. Dan Kroger Publisher Franciscan Media


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Wait in Joyful Hope Daily Reflections for Advent with the Blessed Mother Kathleen M. Carroll

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Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Cover and book design by Mark Sullivan Copyright ©2017, by Kathleen M. Carroll. All rights reserved. Published by Franciscan Media 28 W. Liberty St. Cincinnati, OH 45202 www.FranciscanMedia.org 2


December 3—First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 63:16–17; 64:2–7; 1 Corinthians 1:3–9; Mark 13:33–37

“You do not know when the Lord of the house is coming.” —Mark 13:33 Advent is a time of waiting. Each year we prepare our homes and hearts to celebrate the season and to receive the Lord anew. And each year we think we know just when Jesus is coming, and how. Our Mother Mary had a greater wisdom. She shared the hope of all Israel that the messiah would come, yet when the angel appeared and told her that the Lord would come in an unexpected way, she did not protest or say “not me” or “not yet.” May we all learn to see how the Lord comes to us and be open to his spirit. Prayer Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. —Psalm 80:4

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December 4—Monday of the First Week of Advent Isaiah 2:1–5; Matthew 8:5–11

“In no one in Israel have I found such faith.” —Matthew 8:11 The news of the Incarnation is astounding even today. How much more must it have been so to this young woman as she learned that she herself would play a central role. Yet Mary never doubted. She acted immediately on the angel’s announcement and rushed at once to help Elizabeth, who greeted her with the words, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Prayer I rejoiced when they said to me Let us go to the house of the Lord. —Psalm 122:1–2

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December 5—Tuesday of the First Week of Advent Isaiah 11:1–10; Luke 10:21–24

“Although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” —Luke 10:22 In her hymn of praise, the Magnificat, Mary recognizes the honor she has received, knowing that she would be called blessed for all generations. Still, she describes herself as a “lowly servant” of the Lord. Though the Advent season can be a time of competition, to outspend, out-bake, and outdecorate last year’s efforts, we should be mindful that the greatest honor comes with the humblest service we can render to God and our neighbor. Prayer He shall have pity for the lowly and poor the lives of the poor he shall save. —Psalm 72:13

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December 6—Feast of St. Nicholas Isaiah 25:6–10; Matthew 15:29–37

“Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” —Matthew 15:33 The disciples’ complaint rings true for us at this time of year. How can we ever meet the needs of all those we love? How can we provide the feast, the gifts, the holiday magic they are all expecting? As always, Mary shows us the way. She gave the world just one gift, but it was far more than enough. This season, let’s make sure that we are sharing first the gift of faith. Prayer The Lord is my shepherd; …To still waters he leads me; He restores my soul. —Psalm 23:1, 2, 3

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December 7—Feast of St. Ambrose Isaiah 26:1–6; Matthew 7:21, 24–27

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” —Matthew 7:24 Scripture tells us very little about Mary. Even the names of her parents, Sts. Joachim and Anne, come to us via tradition; they do not appear at all in the Bible. Yet, her few recorded words and actions make it clear that her life was built entirely on the Lord. She risked rejection, shame, and even death when she assented to the Incarnation, but we never hear a moment of doubt or hesitation. Once she knew the will of God, she rushed to fulfill it—a very good example for us. Prayer It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. —Psalm 118:8

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December 8—Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception Genesis 3:9–15, 20; Ephesians 1:3–6, 11–12; Luke 1:26–38

“He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.” —Ephesians 1:4 The Immaculate Conception is one of the least understood doctrines of our faith. It refers, of course, not to the virgin birth of Jesus, but to the idea that Mary was spared from sin, even original sin, from the moment of her conception. Like all humans, her salvation is from Christ; she simply had the advantage of a sort of “retroactive” salvation, so she would be fully prepared for the role God had planned for her. Though it may be hard to accept, we each have also been uniquely prepared for the work God has intended for us. What gifts have you been given for building up the kingdom of God? Prayer May it be done to me according to your word. —Luke 1:38

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December 9—Saturday of the First Week of Advent Isaiah 30:19–21, 23–26; Matthew 9:35—10:1, 6–8

“The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.” —Matthew 9:37 Often we hear (or even make) complaints about the lack of faith in the world. But Scripture tells us that there is no shortage of faith. Instead there is a shortage of those who will teach it, nurture it, and help form those looking for guidance. The Bible is filled with stories of God choosing unlikely characters—not the wealthy, the powerful, or the learned, but the humble, the meek, and, most importantly, the willing. Mary, ever humble, accepted a task beyond imagining, just because she was asked. What is the Lord asking of you today? Prayer Great is our Lord and mighty in power: to his wisdom there is no limit. —Psalm 147:5

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December 10—Second Sunday of Advent Isaiah 40:1–5, 9–11; 2 Peter 3:8–14; Mark 1:1–8

“One mightier than I is coming after me.” —Mark 1:7 Jesus had quite the family tree. Tradition names John the Baptist, St. Elizabeth, Sts. Joachim and Anne, and St. Joseph among his relatives, not to mention his Blessed Mother. Our own family might not be quite as inspiring, and, at this time of year, we’ll see more of them than ever. But Jesus wasn’t holy because he had a great family and stellar role models. Quite the opposite: each of them was holy because of their relationship with Jesus. We share in this same family of faith, but we are also called to extend it to those around us. Rather than blaming our lack of virtue on our families, we should strive to help them achieve greater virtue by our prayers and example. Prayer The Lord…is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. —2 Peter 3:9 10


December 11—Monday of the Second of the Week of Advent Isaiah 35:1–10; Luke 5:17–26

“But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles.” —Luke 5:19 Bishop Fulton Sheen used to tell a joke about St. Peter getting into trouble for all the ne’er-do-wells that were making their way into heaven. “Don’t blame me, Lord,” St. Peter said. “Every time I close a door, your mother opens a window.” We have all had doors closed to us but they needn’t be an obstacle. There is always a way to get ourselves where we should be, whether by tearing down walls (or through roofs) or by asking our heavenly Mother’s reliable aid. Prayer Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, … he comes to save you. —Isaiah 35:4 11


December 12—Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Zechariah 2:14–17 or Revelation 11:19; 12:1–6; Luke 1:26–38 or Luke 1:39–47

“A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet.” —Revelation 12:1 Though interpreting Revelation is always a challenge, the similarity between this description and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is striking. The miraculous image of Mary on the tilma of Juan Diego radiates light and shows her feet borne up on the crescent moon. The image is still visible today, always on display at the basilica in Mexico City. Though the region has been beset by turmoil and change (the hill of Tepeyac where the Virgin appeared was at that time in New Spain!), pilgrimages have been a constant. May we recognize the constancy of Mary amid the turmoil and changes in our own lives. Prayer You are the highest honor of our race. Your deed of hope will never be forgotten by those who tell of the might of God. —Judith 13:18 12


December 13—Feast of St. Lucy Isaiah 40:25–31; Matthew 11:28–30

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” —Matthew 11:28 St. Lucy, patroness of light and vision, was burdened by the expectations of her culture. Though she wanted to dedicate her life and goods to the service of God, her relatives wanted more conventional security for her, suggesting she could donate some of her wealth in a bequest. Lucy countered, “Whatever you give away at death for the Lord’s sake you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now…while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death.” St. Lucy was martyred for refusing the wishes of a powerful suitor. Prayer Behold, the Lord comes to save his people; blessed are those prepared to meet him. —Gospel Acclamation

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December 14—Feast of St. John of the Cross Isaiah 41:13–20; Matthew 11:11–15

“I, the Lord, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.” —Isaiah 41:17 As a Carmelite, St. John of the Cross lived a life devoted to the quiet spirituality modeled by the Blessed Mother. Though he was tormented by his own order during his life, St. John has since become regarded as one of the Carmelites’ most praiseworthy members. The writings born out of his suffering, including Ascent of Mt. Carmel and the Dark Night of the Soul are recognized as epic works on the spiritual life. Like the Blessed Mother, though, St. John knew that, “In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human successes, but on how well we have loved.” Prayer The Wayfaring Virgin Word in her womb Comes walking your way— Haven’t you room for your Virgin and Mother? Haven’t you room? —Poem of St. John of the Cross 14


December 15—Friday of the Second Week of Advent Isaiah 48:17–19; Matthew 11:16–19

“If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river.” —Isaiah 48:18 In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his listeners not to judge. John the Baptist, he reminds them, was an ascetic. He fasted and abstained from alcohol and people said he had a demon. Jesus ate and drank with sinners and people called him a glutton and a drunkard. “Wisdom is vindicated by her works,” he says, and this is nowhere more true than in the life of the Blessed Mother. For an unmarried woman to have a child at that time was scandalous, yet she was blameless, and her actions saved us all from the scandal of sin. Prayer Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked. —Psalm 1:1

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December 16—Saturday of the Second of the Week of Advent Sirach 48:1–4, 9–1; Matthew 17:9, 10–13

“Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him.” —Matthew 17:12 Throughout Scripture, we read the stories of those that look beyond appearances, those who recognize when something unusual is happening. John the Baptist was blessed with this gift in an extraordinary way. He recognized the Messiah even before he was born and hesitated to baptize the one who came to baptize with fire. Mary, too, accepted the word of the Lord that the Messiah could come, not on clouds and with armies, but in the guise of a helpless infant—her helpless infant. How does the Lord come to you today? How can you be prepared to recognize him? Prayer Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. —Gospel Acclamation

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December 17—Third Sunday of Advent Isaiah 61:1–2, 10–11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24; John 1:6–8, 19–28

“May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” —1 Thessalonians 5:23 With the days before Christmas growing shorter, we may be more mindful than usual about the ways in which we are unprepared for the coming of the Lord. Sometimes it is helpful to recognize our shortcomings, but it can also be destructive. We cannot imitate the perfect faith of Mary, and it is too late to be sinless. We might wonder whether we should even try. But the Scripture quote for today was written by St. Paul, the greatest persecutor of the early Church before his conversion. If he can achieve sainthood after such a beginning, it is worth it for each of us to begin again—every day. Prayer The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. —Luke 1:49 17


December 18—Monday of the Third Week of Advent Jeremiah 23:5–8; Matthew 1:18–25

“As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.” —Jeremiah 23:5 No matter his personal feelings, when Joseph realized that Mary was with child, he was a “righteous” man. That meant, according to the Law, that he could not take Mary as his wife. We see from his decision to divorce her quietly and save her from shame that he was also a kind man. It took the intervention of an angel to convince Joseph to marry and raise the child they named Jesus. What signs do we need to act on behalf of those who need our help, even if they may not seem to “deserve” it? Prayer For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save. —Psalm 72:12–13 18


December 19—Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent Judges 13:2–7, 24–25; Luke 1:5–25

“But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.” —Luke 1:7 Elizabeth is quick to see the difference between her husband and Mary. “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled,” she tells the Blessed Mother. Truly, at these words, the usually quiet Mary breaks into a song of praise so powerful that it has become part of the daily prayer of the Church. We know the Lord always keeps his promises. The only thing in doubt is whether we believe them. Prayer O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds. —Psalm 71:17

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December 20—Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent Isaiah 7:10–14; Luke 1:26–38

“Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ ” —Luke 1:38 What a model of faith! In the space of one reading, Mary accepts the words of the angel. At first, “She was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be,” but moments later she has consented to become the mother of the Messiah. Many of us wish we knew God’s will in our lives. What is the grand plan? Sometimes, though, we have already resisted God’s will—in something seemingly small and inconsequential. Let us ask for the grace today to accept God’s will in the smaller things, so that we might be better prepared to accept the larger. Prayer O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness! —Gospel Acclamation 20


December 21—Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

Song of Solomon 2:8–14 or Zephaniah 3:14–18; Luke 1:39–45

“Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste.” —Luke 1:39 The very first thing Mary does after the angel’s announcement, according to Scripture, is to go take care of someone else. She had heard amazing things about herself, the salvation of her people, the wonder of her son, and—somewhere amid all that—she heard the news about Elizabeth. The first question in her mind seems always to be, How can I help? This is good news for us, who find ourselves so often in need of help. Just as Elizabeth found comfort and John found joy in the approach of Mary, so we, too, can be assured that she is on her way to assist us in every need, even before we ask. Prayer For in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust. —Psalm 33:21

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December 22—Friday of the Third Week of Advent 1 Samuel 1:24–28; Luke 1:46–56

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” —Luke 1:46 Each Sunday we proclaim in the liturgy that we “wait in joyful hope” for the coming of our Lord. We live in an age sandwiched between the Incarnation and the second coming—and there is no way to know if we are closer to one than the other. But the Scriptures remind us how Israel waited for its promised Redeemer, through exile and slavery and destruction, for thousands of years. But Jesus came, just as he will again one day. And this child of Mary has come into our lives already, but that does not mean that he will not come again. This Christmas and anytime we look for him, he will allow himself to be found, to lift us up as often as we fall. Prayer He raises the needy from the dust; from the ash heap he lifts up the poor, To seat them with nobles. —1 Samuel 2:8 22


December 23—Saturday of the Third Week of Advent Malachi 3:1–4, 23–24; Luke 1:57–66

“All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, ‘What, then, will this child be?’ For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.” —Luke 1:66 Today’s Gospel asks this question about John the Baptist, and people never seemed to agree on what to make of him. He was the sort of man that you had to form an opinion about—madman or prophet, spirit-filled or politically motivated. Even Herod, who eventually had him executed, was troubled by his words. Even today, we wrestle with deciding who Jesus is, and who he is for us. We may be challenged in our understanding of Mary and her role in salvation history. Our questions will never get easier, but with patience and prayer, our faith will become strong enough to guide us in the truth. Prayer Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior. —Psalm 25:5 23


December 24—Fourth Sunday of Advent

2 Samuel 7:1–5, 8–12, 14, 16; Romans 16:25–27; Luke 1:26–38

“To him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages…be glory forever and ever. Amen.” —Romans 16:25, 27 Mary, who from the beginning pondered all these things in her heart, shares very few words with us through Scripture. She accepts the words of the angel, offers a hymn of praise to God, questions the young Jesus when she finds him in the Temple, and makes the merest suggestion to him at the wedding at Cana. Later in that wedding story, though, she leaves us her final recorded words: “Do whatever he tells you.” This is the best motherly advice, from the best of all possible mothers. Prayer Nothing will be impossible for God. —Luke 1:37

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Advent 2017  
Advent 2017  

Daily reflections for Advent with the Blessed Mother