December 21

“A Christmas Journey of Prayer

Then the word came with the iron
Of empire forged in it:…
Of enrollment. Lands and provinces,
They’d said, and men and citizens and slaves.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…to be enrolled with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child.

And then,
A door was closed behind them, and the sound
Was loud in isolated emphasis
Against the stillness and the dawn’s cold fog…
A woolen shawl
And wrappings clutched together for the cold
Enveloped her…
A final glance had shut away this house
That had been hers, the echo of her movement
Fades to silence…
It’s true enough, that they had often stopped,
And she had gone, as one among the rest
Of women then to find relief against
The road’s fatigues, and when the fires were made,
She worked among them in the fading day.
Did they not know? Could they not feel the nearness?
…The Source? Already, some unheld reflection
Of the questing light that was to rest
Forever in His eyes, looked out from hers
As answering, she said: “To Bethlehem.”


For Reflection

“Enveloped her…” In addition to the cold, what else do you think enveloped Mary as she trod the distance to Bethlehem? What is suggested throughout the poem? What do you think enveloped Joseph? What envelops you now? What do you make of the last four lines – consider them in light of the previous GraceLines?

(Excerpted from A Woman Wrapped in Silence By John W. Lynch)

I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me

December 20
“”No one could ever say more truly than Mary: ‘I live, now not I,
but Christ liveth in me.’”
-Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, OCD
For Reflection
Could one ever plumb the depths of the mystery of Mary’s holy “advent” – when the Divine Life took shape and form within her? Just as Christ took on her flesh, did she not “take on” something of Him as well? Could this have been what Elizabeth realized when Mary came to her home (Luke 1:40-44)? As Child stirred within her, did currents of grace flood Mary’s being in humble response to each baby move? Was she not transformed into Him throughout her nine-month advent? Is this why “No one could ever say more truly than Mary: “I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me?” Journal your thoughts and insights, your prayer and your reflection.

Heart of Jesus

December 19

“…Mary acquired a very special relation with God. The blood of Jesus, the heart of Jesus and the body of Jesus are formed by the blood of Mary. By adoring the blood, the sacred wounds and the heart of Jesus, we adore something proceeding from Mary which was assumed by the Son of God.”

-Blessed James Alberione


For Reflection

The words of St. Maximilian Kolbe come to mind: “Oh, Immaculata! Who are you?” What great mystery is ours in the Incarnation! Jesus is in Mary. And Mary is in Jesus. Ponder this mystery of our Faith and journal your thoughts. Then pray the following prayer:

Dear Mother, draw me into your Immaculate Heart and chain me there with cords of grace. In this Sweet Vessel, imbue me with the life of your Son, Jesus Christ. Teach me how to imitate your virtues that I may be filled with grace. Carry me to the Sacred Heart of your Son that in Him I may rest forever. Amen.

He who created all things

December 18
“The God who made all things gave Himself form through Mary, and thus He made His own creation. He who created all things from nothing would not remake His ruined creation without Mary.”
-St. Anselm
For Reflection
Consider the reality of this statement. Jesus Christ, the Word Made Flesh, took on the flesh of Mary only. This was His chosen means of “making” His own creation. So, too, does He seek to remake His ruined creation with her as well. What do these words say about me, a daughter re-born through Christ Jesus? How does this statement increase my wonder and awe of the mystery of the Incarnation and the mystery of Mary, Mother of God? See tomorrow’s GraceLine for another perspective of this awesome truth of our Faith.

My soul doth magnify the Lord

December 17
He might be born, and see the stars through eyes
That were her eyes in Him! And might she trace
Her features in the molding of His brow?
Here her voice in His, and know the need
He had of her, and uttered in a cry?
And she…and…she might sing for Him at dusk!
Might sing, but no, she could not dare this dream…
But yet, it was a mother’s need to sing…
And then a song the world has never heard,
Rising in the faintest strains of distance
Loveliness had moved along the silver
Shining of her dreams, like light returned
Within a purer light, until it came
To her unfrightened. Caroling of angels’
Praise, and love that lifts to lullaby
Became as one, and blended for a fragile
Music that was hers and only hers…
My soul doth magnify the Lord:…Because he that is
mighty has done great things to me: and holy is his name.
For Reflection
Every mother dreams of the child she will birth. And as her time drew near, Mary’s thoughts of Jesus were marked by the quintessential ponderings of the pregnant woman. But hers were marked by something more as well. Her Son was the Holy One of Israel! In A Woman Wrapped in Silence, John W. Lynch speaks of this reality in poetic strain. Where do you see every mother in Mary’s musings, and where do you see that which marks her as the Mother of God? Of her thoughts, which echo your own longings?

(Excerpts from A Woman Wrapped in Silent by John W. Lynch, reprinted by permission of Paulist Press.)


December 16
“Thanks to her vow of surrender, everything is divinely disposed for this direct hold of God’s word over her.”
-Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, O. P.
For Reflection
Though Mary received a singular grace from God never to be repeated for all eternity, could it be that my surrender, seeking to mirror her own as closely as possible, could divinely dispose me to a greater hold of God’s word over me? How would I most like to experience that hold? In what one way today can I cooperate with grace to make my surrender more like Our Lady’s?

A complete and total Yes

December 15
“God wants to transform us by His grace and to sanctify us, but before He does so, He waits for our assent. When this yes is complete and total, as Mary’s was, God will accomplish His work in us.”
-Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, OCD
For Reflection
What is God’s hope for us? Upon what is it dependent? Why do you think this is so? How do the last five GraceLines point to Mary’s complete and total “fiat?” In what one way can you give your assent more completely and more totally? What was the work God accomplished in Mary? What work do you believe He wants to accomplish in you?

God waiting for us

December 14

“… the spirituality of waiting is not simply our waiting for God. It is also participating in God’s waiting for us …”

-Henri J. M. Nouwen


For Reflection

Ponder this quote. What does it mean to you? In what way(s) did God wait for Mary? How do I think He has been waiting for me? (Hint: One answer is found in tomorrow’s GraceLine) What is my response?

The seed has been planted

December 13

“The secret of waiting is that the seed has been planted, that something
has begun.”

-Henri J. M. Nouwen


For Reflection

Why do you think knowledge of the planted seed holds the “secret” to waiting? Consider this quote in light of the quote of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. What seed was planted in Mary? What seeds exemplified her period of waiting (consider what you learned through other quotes)? Identify some of the seeds that have been planted in you during this
time of spiritual waiting?

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 12
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

“The Word of God is present in [Mary], dwells within her, and takes hold of all the capabilities of her intelligence, her heart, her sensibility. Her entire being is mobilized by God and for God.”

-Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P.


For Reflection

Reread the above GraceLine. Enter into the mystery these words express. Let them move you interiorly. Through the use of your imagination “be” with Mary as the Word of God grows within her. What thoughts, inspirations, and insights come to you? In what way does this aspect of Mary’s “waiting” prove the truth of yesterday’s GraceLine? What do you make of the last sentence, especially the word “mobilized,” in light of the time of Mary’s maternity? Our Lady of Guadalupe appears to Juan Diego pregnant with Jesus. How do you think she images this quote through her apparitions?