Mary, the mother of Jesus, is especially in our thoughts during Advent. Here, Fr Juan José Bartolomé helps us to place Mary at the heart of our community and our prayer, by reflecting on her presence with the Apostles in the upper room, after the Ascension of Jesus, as they wait for the Spirit he promised.
Mary belongs to the life of the Church right from its beginning. She accompanies the disciples of her son as they await the promised Spirit and as they prepare, united in prayer, for the mission entrusted to them. (p86)
The apostles who pray with Mary live in hope of the Spirit, awaiting the birth of the Church. Mary, who has experience of the birth of the Spirit, has an assured place wherever people desire the baptism of the Spirit of Jesus and where the body of Christ is about to be born. The prayer of the apostles, no matter how confused it might be or however full of fear, is the best preparation for receiving the Spirit of God, and the only way to make possible a new incarnation of the Son. If we restore Mary to the community life of the apostles, experience her presence as we wait for the coming of the Spirit, share with her our waiting and our prayer, our hopes and our fears, then we will be able to repeat her experience – the Spirit will come down as before, on the apostles waiting in prayer with Mary. (p89)
From: Blessed Is She Who Believed: Mary’s Pilgrimage of Faith, Juan José Bartolomé SDB
Praying with our senses:
Set aside some time in a quiet space, where you can be still and relax. Read the scripture again, and then imagine you are in the upper room, waiting with Mary and the apostles.
• What can you see? Is the room bright, or shady? Focus your attention on Mary. What do you notice about her? Does she look familiar to you, or is there anything surprising about her appearance? What is the expression on her face?
• What else can you sense in the room? Is it hot or cool? Perhaps the aromas of spices from stalls in the street are wafting in through the windows? Is there a breeze touching your face from an open window? Or is the air still and stuffy? Is the floor smooth or worn and rough? Are there textiles and cushions where you are sitting? Can you feel the expectation in the atmosphere?
• Listen to the sounds in the room. Can you hear the noise from the street below? Are people in the room praying silently, or aloud? Can you hear their voices? Can you hear the voice of Mary, speaking aloud or within her heart? What is she saying? Maybe her prayer is for you too?
• Speak to Mary: You are close to Mary now. She is our mother, and she knows how to wait and prepare. Talk to her about your worries and your hopes. Ask her to pray with you to Jesus.