Thumbnail image for Annunciation detail Angelico.jpgWe have all had the occasion by a moment to sense more
intensely the presence of Christ in the Eucharist during the celebration of the
Mass, during Eucharistic adoration, or even in the Tabernacle, when we walk
into a church. There is Christ. He is there whether we sense or experience His
.  But precisely because this is the case, we are sometimes given
to experience that He is present. Such experience is not the source of faith,
but in some way it is its consequence.

But what about the experience of the
Blessed Virgin Mary during Advent? It is reasonable, like the Fathers of the
Church, to see Mary as the original tabernacle. The Word became flesh and
dwells among us.  This being hidden but present among us is first of all
realized during the time of Advent in the home of Nazareth, in the womb of
Mary, under the protection of Saint Joseph.  Mary meditated upon all these
things and kept them in her heart. We can reasonably speculate that she read
scripture during this time, in silence, most likely the words of Isaiah, his
prophesies, and found in them a sense of the meaning of what was happening to

St. Augustine says that she conceived the Word in her heart before she
conceived the Word in her flesh. So that her maternity was accompanied by an
intensification and growth in faith, in contemplation, in the intelligent
perception of mystery
. The Second Vatican Council says that during the time of
her pregnancy the heart of the Incarnate Word beat gently below the heart of
Mary, her immaculate heart. Two immaculate hearts, beating silently and
prayerfully in the night of this world.

(Fr. Thomas J. White, OP, Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC)