This blog post is dedicated to my mother, Eleanor, whose strong faith has inspired me throughout my life.
Regarding the birth of Christ, there is a much-quoted opening to Meister Eckhart’s Christmas sermon in which he states, “St. Augustine says that this birth is happening continually. But if it does not happen in me, what does it profit me? What matters is that it shall happen in me” (Meister Eckhart, from Whom God Hid Nothing, 45).
What I think Eckhart means is that we need to “give birth to” God’s will in our lives. He also says, “We are all mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.”
As I look back over my experience as a mother, with the joys and the sacrifices that motherhood entails, “giving birth” seems to be the perfect metaphor for change, and especially the kind of unpredictable transformation that being open to God’s will can bring.
But it takes time and willingness to discern God’s will for our lives. My mother and her best friend from grade school have said the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena together for 55 years, even though they live in different states. To me, the novena represents a meditation on the moment of Christ’s birth “in piercing cold” that can bring us closer to aligning our wills with God’s.
Saint Andrew Christmas Novena
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen. (Say 15 times a day from St. Andrew’s Day, November 30th, until December 24th.)