Today is one of the most inspiring days preceding Christmas! It is the feast of "Our Lady of Expectation," mostly unknown to many in these modern times, but still kept alive in many countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy and Poland as well as in a few religious orders. In older editions of missals, this feast is still listed as a votive Mass.
The feast is celebrated on the 18th of December, a week before Christmas Day. Our Blessed Lady, well advanced in pregnancy, is portrayed in the highest dignity of her Divine Motherhood. Dressed in royal apparel as daughter of David the King, she awaits with joy the arrival of her divine Son, Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Her whole posture suggests how she remains wholly consumed in contemplation of her Son under her heart. Her immaculate womb has become a living portable sanctuary of divinity. There are special prayers and novenas to "Our Lady of Expectation" available for women who cannot conceive or bear a child.
The votive Mass of "Our Lady of Expectation" is theologically enlightening and spiritually enriching for the time of Advent and Christmas. With the entrance antiphon, the Church prays with the prophet for the coming of the Just One from heaven that the earth may be ready to welcome the Savior: "Send victory like a dew, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the just. Let the earth open for salvation to spring up" (Is 45:8). In the opening prayer, the Church offers the prayer to God through Mary's intercession: "O God who wished that your Word would take the flesh from the womb of the Virgin as announced by the Angel and whom we confess to be the true Mother of God, may we be helped by her intercession."
This wonderful feast also reminds us that it has been almost nine months since the Annunciation/Incarnation (March 25) and that Jesus developed in Mary's womb just like we did in our mother's womb. Think of all the millions of babies who never make it through the nine months because their mothers have aborted them. May God, through the intercession of the Expectant Mother Mary, take their souls into His Kingdom.
Our Lady of Expectation: Pray for us!