Advent is Mary’s third trimester, and every Advent she invites us join her in the spiritual and emotional experience that is a third trimester.
As a fairly recent convert, I’m still pretty new to the whole concept of Advent. Each year I’ve tried to live according to the wisdom of the Church and embrace this liturgical season, but, like many Catholics, I’ve found that Advent is especially difficult. Unlike the Church’s other penitential season, Lent, when the world is quiet and seems to wait patiently for the Holy Day to arrive, Advent comes with the arduousness of the world—even the rest of the Christian world—being prematurely lit up with sugar and noise-filled festivities before we even have time to recollect why our priest is wearing his purple vestments again.
It was during my pregnancy with our second child, Bruce, that the Holy Spirit entirely altered my understanding of Advent. I was in my third trimester, and, as is typical, could think of nothing other than my baby. If I wasn’t overtly thinking about how excited we were for his arrival and all the things we needed to do to prepare for it, then my huge belly and all the discomfort related to it would subconsciously remind me of him.
Naturally, I found myself meditating in prayer much more on our motherhood and our Blessed Mother in her role as the vessel of God made man. One day the reality of a simple truth suddenly hit me: Mary has been exactly where I am. Mary went through a third trimester and all that means emotionally and physically. Mary felt uncomfortable and found her belly cumbersome. Mary couldn’t stop thinking about the baby in her womb.
Advent is Mary’s third trimester, and every Advent she invites us join her in the spiritual and emotional experience that is a third trimester. She invites us to yearn for Our Lord and to enjoy the anticipation and awe that come with being unable to stop thinking about the new arrival. This Advent my prayer has been that I will allow Jesus Christ to etch out a place in my mind and heart that is deeper and even more joy-filled than that left by my own child. May we all be more captivated by Him than a third-trimester mother is with her unborn baby.