Hope Holders: Reflections on Mary

Hope Holders: Reflections on Mary

Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus with plain and zigzag border and white background

Hope Holders{ Reflections on Mary
Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus with plain and zigzag border and white background

Hope holders: Reflections on Mary

Do you wonder why these beliefs have taken root in your


Roots which deepen, burrow into the secret places of mind and


Year after year, prayer by prayer, tear by tear, doubt by doubt until


Do you wonder why you believe the impossible-god as infant born of a


Do you wonder at this girl child, at her trust in the incomprehensible


Enveloped by wisdom, she carried eternity in her womb,

A child emptied of ego, of self, of sin, full, instead, of grace.

She who was filled with the hope of Adam, she who came


Dry the tears of Eve through her incomparable sorrows.

Do you wonder if there is a price for these gifts we have been freely


Must we not  somehow offer back to Him some tiny


Struggle and sacrifice, penance and passion, some small


Finally we hear, we see and understand from her silence, her


Too immense for words, cannot be contained by the sea or the


We are to proclaim, to put in our hands and our hearts, to be

Hope Holders.

Poetry as language of the heart

I wrote that poem, “Hope Holders Reflections on Mary” back when poetry was the sole method for me to convey the search for, and then the gift, of this faith- the stunning, world-shaking descent of it. Poetry has never been a form of writing that appealed to me. And yet, during those years, the “language of the heart” worked…when nothing else did.

The Greek word for conversion or repentance is metanoia- some, like me, think of it as turn around-180 degree turnaround. Think of a small child whirling around and around…then stopping, often to fall on the ground, giggling. Repentance just is not a big enough word, it’s too bounded and packed with narrow, rigid thought.

Turn around is better.

World shaking?

Most assuredly.

In fact, consider this statement

Oh, if people know nothing about the message and the promises anymore, if they only experience the four walls and the prison windows of their gray days, and no longer perceive the quiet footsteps of the announcing angels, if the angels’ murmured word does not simultaneously shake us to the depths and lift up our souls—then it is over for us.

Advent of the Heart


How many times have we heard and read that word? These are “unprecedented times”: never-ending cycles of world-wide contagion, lock-downs, persecution and resulting economic collapse.

But are they?

Few of us are literally imprisoned in our homes. We drive, we walk outside and many gladly accept the governmental handouts, while simultaneously complaining about some personal lack-hairdresser closed, shivering outside at mass are just a couple of a long list.

Father Alfred Delp’s words. “if the angels’ murmured word does not simultaneously shake us to the depths and lift up our souls” were penned in a prison, a Nazi prison by a man who knew he would be executed. And yet, eighty years ago, he wrote this:

“If we want Advent to transform us – our homes and hearts, and even nations – then the great question for us is

whether we will come out of the convulsions of our time with this determination: Yes, arise!

It is time to awaken from sleep. a waking up must begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God intended them. It is time for each of us to go to work – certain that the Lord will come – to set our life in God’s order wherever we can. Where God’s word is heard, he will not cheat us of the truth; where our life rebels he will reprimand it.

We need people who are moved by the horrific calamities and emerge from them with the knowledge that those who look to the Lord will be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth.

The Advent message comes out of our encounter with God, with the gospel. It is thus the message that shakes – so that in the end the entire world shall be shaken. The fact that the son of man shall come again is more than a historic prophecy; it is also a decree that God’s coming and the shaking up of humanity are somehow connected…

Being shocked, however, out of our pathetic complacency is only part of Advent.

There is much more that belongs to it. Advent is blessed with God’s promises, which constitute the hidden happiness of this time. These promises kindle the light in our hearts. Being shattered, being awakened – these are necessary for Advent. In the bitterness of awakening, in the helplessness of “coming to,” in the wretchedness of realizing our limitations, the golden threads that pass between heaven and earth reach us. These threads give the world a taste of the abundance it can have.

We must not shy away from Advent thoughts of this kind. We must let our inner eye see and our hearts range far. Then we will encounter both the seriousness of Advent and its blessings in a different way. We will, if we would but listen, hear the message calling out to us to cheer us, to console us, and to uplift us.”


  1. L. Finn says:

    Excellent post! I heartily concur…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.