I recently got engaged to be married on the vigil of Gaudete Sunday. The experience felt like a foreshadowing of the joy in heaven, the fulfillment of God’s promises, and the restoration we await.
The first reading on that Sunday struck me: “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! … The Lord is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear … A mighty Savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in His love.”
After years of misfortune, grief, and disaster in my life and after years of reading those words each Advent with hope they were true, God has gradually in small and bigger ways given me joy again. He answered my prayer for a lifelong companion, and countless other prayers for healing and wholeness. He is restoring all that was lost in my life.
For years I waited and waited. It was hard to believe in God’s promises after so much loss and misfortune. When we’re in the dark it’s hard to see the light. But the people of God, the community of faith, helped keep me afloat. They were the light in the world. They kept pointing to hope and God’s love. They kept pointing to joy. They kept affirming that God wants to bring about the good and holy desires of our hearts.
They helped me first find joy in God alone which paved the way for even more vivid experiences of joy, and then years later, God delivered.
I have no doubt that the Mother of God played a role in this. In 2019, I consecrated myself to Mary on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In 2020, I did a 54 day Novena for the desire of my heart, ending on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In 2021, nestled in between two Marian feast days, I was given that desire.
I know now and have experienced first hand that God really is in the business of joy, keeping His promises, and restoration of all that is lost – the truths of Christmas – and how beautiful that the Mother of God was integrally part of that, as she is in these days of Advent.
That increases my faith this Advent that someday you and I will know even greater healing, restoration, love and joy in the Kingdom of God.