Our own Advent story


When we read the Gospels as a parable, they bring new meaning to us, and this is especially so in the holy seasons of Advent and Easter.

In prayer, we are now with Mary and the angel.

Gabriel does not appear to us like something from a medieval painting, but we are aware of a presence that nudges our heart.

Male and female alike, we are called to become pregnant with God.

And like Mary, we say, “How can this be?”

It is only when we add, “Let it be done to me,” that we realise we have the Holy Presence in us.

By saying “yes” to call, we are allowing it to grow.

How do we know that the call to the heart is from God?

It is positive. It is always a call to newness, a call to a larger pace.

Sometimes the call can be to a vocation or some other major change.

For me, the nudge of the angel is not about an earth-changing event.  It’s usually about the small things that inhibit spiritual growth.

I have failed to forgive. Prayer has lapsed. I have not valued all people equally.  I have been unkind.

I know we’re told not to sweat the small stuff, but on the spiritual journey, it’s the small stuff that is big.

I’ve found that if I miss or ignore a call, it will come again and again. That angel is persistent. God will keep sending it back.

When we open our hearts as Mary did, we hear her song within us. “My soul glorifies the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my saviour.”

Advent happens in us all year.

For many, a favourite Advent reflection comes from  “Wellsprings” by Jesuit Anthony de Mello.

The book is no longer in print, but here is the Advent text.

“The events of history were controlled for my coming into the world no less than for the coming of the Saviour.

“The time had to be ripe, the place just right, the circumstances ready, before I could be born.

“God chose the parents of his Son and endowed them with the personality they needed for the Child to be born.

“I speak to God about the man and woman he chose to be my parents until I see that they had to be the kind of human beings they were if I was to be what God meant me to be.

“The Christ-child came like every other child, to give the world a message.

“What message have I come to give?

“I seek guidance from the Lord to express it in a word or an image.

“Christ came into the world to walk a certain path, fulfil a certain destiny. He consciously fulfilled what was “written” for him.

“As I look back, I see in wonder what has been “written” for me and has thus far been fulfilled in my own life, and for each part of that script, I say “Thanks,” to make it holy with my gratitude.

“I look with expectation and surrender on all that is to come, and like the Christ, I say, “Yes, let it be done…”

“Finally, I recall the song the angels sang when Christ was born. They sang of the peace and the joy that gives God glory.

“Have I ever heard the song the angels sang when I was born?”

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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