Every expectant mother shares something with the Blessed Virgin Mary — the longing to see the face of her child. The mother cannot yet kiss or caress her baby, she cannot hear the sound of a cry, or smell that baby-sweetness, so she waits in loving attentiveness for the stirring of the babe beneath her heart, that fills her with joy and knowledge of the baby’s presence within.
During the 3rd week of Advent, on December 18th, in some places in the world the Church celebrates a beautifully contemplative feast which is called the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The feast has it’s origin in the year 656 in Spain and spread throughout the Middle Ages. Because the ancient law of the Church prohibited the celebration of feasts during Lent, the Church transferred the Feast of the Annunciation from March 25th to the season of Advent. The Tenth Council of Toledo assigned the feast to the 18th of December. It was kept as a solemn octave, eight days leading to Christmas. When the ancient laws regarding fasts were changed, the Annunciation was celebrated twice, on March 25th and December 18th.
On this day and the days leading up to Christmas we are invited to contemplate, together with Mary, the Divine Child within her womb, who is Our Savior. We too, through sanctifying grace, bear the supernatural image of God within us. Like Mary, we desire to become a peaceful sanctuary for the living God. We are called to be attentive, in prayer, to the faint stirrings of His presence in our hearts, which will fill us with a deep longing to see His Face as we pray:
“Mary, your life with Jesus was one of the purest, most fervent, most perfect emotions of longing and most eager expectation of the Birth of the Divine Child! How great must have been that longing! You were longing to see the Face of God and to be happy in the vision. You were soon really to see the Face of God, the created image of divine perfection, the sight of which rejoices heaven and earth, from which all being derive life and joy; the Face whose features enraptured God from all eternity, the Face for which all ages expectantly yearned. You were to see this Face unveiled, in all the beauty and grace as the face of your own child. Most just indeed it is, O Holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire which you had to see Him, who had been concealed for nine months in your chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also your own; to come to that blissful hour of His birth, which will give glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men of good will. Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy your desires and ours. Make us re-double our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by your powerful prayers for us, so that when the solemn hour has come, our Jesus may find no obstacle to His entrance into our hearts. Amen.” Prayer by Rev. Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D.
This prayer may be prayed as a Triduum from December 15th to the Feast Day on December 18th, or continue to be prayed on the days leading up to Christmas.