Back in the day, the Church prescribed fasting and abstinence both for Lent and for the season of Advent. The Nativity fast was thought to prepare the soul for the coming of Jesus, along with the practice of confession and absolution. A priest friend of mine is participating in this Nativity fast and has encouraged his parishioners to do likewise. As English is not his first language, he sent me a copy of his Christmas message to his parish leadership to proofread (one of the many duties of administration), and I was struck by the image of fasting he paints with the following phrase: “Let your empty belly become the womb which holds Jesus close to your heart.” The mystics call this “the purgative way,” to empty ourselves of all worldly satisfaction to make room for Christ. Imagine, Mary held the Lord of Lords for nine months literally inches away from her own beating heart! This priest’s image of an empty stomach becoming a womb for Christ allows all of us – with barren wombs, with no wombs, with wombs who cannot yet bear children – all to bear Christ within, close to our hearts. Advent, perhaps incorrectly dubbed “The Christmas Season” in the secular world, can be an empty time for those of us experiencing loss and whose hearts ache with emptiness. It can be tempting to fill that space with temporary satisfactions. Let us instead fill them with the love of Jesus, and give birth to Christ in our midst.
Submitted by: Kathy Wickward