Being heavily pregnant during Advent and Christmas time enabled me to connect with Mary in a new and unexpected way, writes Jacqui Giuliano. Source: The Majellan.
It’s funny how a new experience can result in a new awareness. You buy a new car and you notice similar coloured cars on the road! So, when I became pregnant for the first time, I suddenly saw pregnant women everywhere.
Speaking of all things new, like most little Catholic school girls of my time, when I received my first Holy Communion I was given a pair of rosary beads. I prayed the Rosary in our family when someone died, and I was familiar with the stories about Mary from school and church but I had never developed any kind of relationship with her.
I knew she was Jesus’ mother and called our mother too, but I have a blessed relationship with my own mum and had never felt the need or desire to get to know my "oher" mother. She certainly was not a real person to me in any sense of the word.
Interestingly, my first baby was due in January, which meant I was heavily pregnant during Advent and Christmas. During Advent I heard familiar stories of Mary but in a new way. The Christmas nativity scene struck a chord and my focus shifted from the baby Jesus to Mary. How, I wondered, had the pregnancy and birth been for her? I felt connected to her in a new and completely unexpected way.
I recalled the scripture story of the Angel’s visit to a very young, teenage, Jewish girl. Was Mary amazed or terrified? Her words took on new meaning as she asked her questions and then accepted the invitation offered to her. It seemed quite mind-blowing that she had the capacity in that time, and that place, to enter into something so foreign, so unknown and so taboo.
A baby born out of wedlock, a situation that could destroy her reputation and future prospects. She could become an outcast. Her courage, strength and tenacity took on a certain realness for me. No longer just the “handmaid of the Lord” but flesh and bone; no longer meek and mild, but bold and counter-cultural; not just assenting and accepting, but questioning and choosing her own way.
Jacqui Giuliano works at the Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation at the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
My journey with Mary (The Majellan)