Loss, as well as life, are causes for reflection at Advent
By Megan Alfonso Lacourrege
Contributing Blog Author
Christmas is upon us, and with it comes the familiar excitement and expectation. While there is sometimes stressfulness that accompanies the present buying, party planning and the like, the season is generally joyful.
We anticipate the traditions – decorating, Christmas tree trimming, hot cocoa, caroling, the lively music. For what is a penitential season in the church, Advent can seem far from the stark challenges of Lent. But is it?
It was in the throes of a difficult summer that I realized something: Mary’s joy in the anticipation and arrival of her son was never separated from sorrow. Of course, Mary suffered through countless trials, but I specifically refer to her keen awareness that Jesus would one day die.
At the Incarnation, the angel tells Mary her son will be the Messiah, which must have been shocking and thrilling, yet Mary, as a Jew, would have been familiar with the scriptural prophecies of the Messiah’s bitter suffering and brutal death.
At Jesus’ birth, the kings bring him myrrh to foreshadow his death. Mary presents Jesus at only eight days old in the temple to be told by the high priest, Simeon, that he will suffer greatly and, what’s more, “… a sword will pierce even your own soul” (NASB, Luke 2:35).
What an amazing flurry of emotions Mary must have experienced! Not the least of them must have come from her realization that her son would live to die.
In this way, God has allowed Mary to meet a great many parents where we are at.
For parents who have suffered the loss of a child, from miscarriage and stillbirth to the death of a grown child, the message resonates sharply. We rejoice in our children’s lives and are pierced by the sword at their untimely deaths.
We believe that God has a plan, yet even like Mary in her own human limitedness, we don’t fully understand.
However, this particular trial of Mary is for every parent, regardless if they have or ever will suffer the loss of a child in this life.
Each one of us lives to die.
While bringing new life into the world is joyful, it also brings a unique responsibility – that of loving our children into eternity.
While it is natural to be over-the-moon for our children, we must know that we are not going to feel that way at all times. It is in experiencing the mixture of emotions, the joy and the sorrow, that we can best form our children’s characters and ultimately point their immortal souls to heaven.
This Advent, let us dwell with Mary by being able to reflect on Jesus’ selfless mission and realize he is calling all of us to the same life of sanctity, our children included.
Megan Alfonso Lacourrege is a wife and mother who resides in Slidell, Louisiana. She is a native of St. Bernard, graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University with a double-major in English and musical theater. She serves as youth director at St. Genevieve Catholic Church in Slidell. Megan is also the author of the children’s book, “My Sibling Still,” for children who have lost a sibling to miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death. She aims to provide resources to bereaved parents and siblings of miscarriage.