“I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request” – 1 Samuel 1:27
As a sophomore at St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, MA, I attended a service trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Moved by my encounter with the Lakota people on this service trip, I lived and worked at a Catholic school on the reservation after college. Despite the injustices that plague reservations, it was so clear to me when meeting the Lakota people that God was close.
Children in Lakota culture are seen as holy. The Lakota word for children is wakanyeja, or “sacred little ones.” Lakota people believe all children are close to the Creator as they are pure and innocent, not yet corrupted by the sins of man. As an educator on the reservation, my Lakota colleagues often reminded me that we have much more to learn from children than they have to learn from us.
Like Lakota spirituality, our Catholic faith revers the holiness of children. In today’s readings, both Hannah and Mary recognize the holiness in their children and turn to God to assist with their sacred responsibility as parents. As a new parent myself, I often find myself overcome by the grace my daughter brings to our family and my dependence on God to guide me in the challenges of this new identity.
Our preparation and patient waiting during Advent ends with the infectious joy of new life with the arrival of the Christ child and our renewal of self. By humbling ourselves to place our faith in the birth of a child, we strengthen our faith and dependence on God.
Loving God, allow me to be moved by the infections joy of new life this Advent.
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