By Claire Campbell
Advent is approaching and with it the usual anticipation and excitement. Ever since I stopped attending Catholic Mass, though, Advent seems less sacred. There are many valid reasons for people to harbor negative feelings toward the Catholic Church and I have my own reasons for leaving, but I still associate many positive memories with my upbringing—chief among them Mary.
In the Catholic Church, Mary is center stage during Advent and although some followers distort Mary in order to serve their own political stance on abortion, the fact remains that Mary decided to keep her child. Perhaps she felt that she had no choice because of societal mores or perhaps she decided to keep the child against the wishes of her family. The point is not that Mary made the “right choice,” but that God gave her the freedom to choose, and her choice changed the world.
Mary carried this child in her own child-like body, gave birth in a dirty stable, most likely with the women of Joseph’s family, some of whom probably wished this child were not born. Some scholars say Mary taught Jesus the basic art of healing; it’s hard to believe that Jesus’ inclusion of marginalized people (especially women) was not somehow influenced by his mother. She stayed with him until the bitter end, witnessing the horror of crucifixion, present with him even at death. She was, for all intents and purposes, the first Christian.
Mary gives me hope that we can change this world. This Advent Season, I invite you to join me in celebrating not only Jesus, but the woman who birthed him, raised him, taught him, buried him and most of all, believed in him.