Advent meditation: Suffering in childbirth was brought in as a punishment for the fall. Since Mary was conceived without original sin, the tradition of the Church holds that she did not experience labor pains during the birth of Christ. This was foretold by Isaiah in his vision of the new Jerusalem in the age to come. Although Isaiah speaks of “Jerusalem,” the Fathers of the Church understood it to be an image of the Blessed Virgin. Isaiah describes how all the faithful are children of this mother. He also describes how an overflowing river comes from her, alluding to the river that flowed from Eden. Mary is the new Jerusalem. She is the new Eden and the new Virgin Earth. She is the fulfillment of all the themes of the feminine in scripture.

Prayer: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Scripture: Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she was delivered of a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her sons. Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth? says the Lord; shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb? says your God. Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may suck and be satisfied with her consoling breasts; that you may drink deeply with delight from the abundance of her glory. For thus says the Lord: Behold, I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall suck, you shall be carried upon her hip, and dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 66:7-13)

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